With Christmas fast approaching and the year drawing to a close, I tend to be in a reflective mood. I have previously written about the Highs and Lows of being a freelancer, in my personal blog The Emerging Flower https://judithhealy.wordpress.com/ However, this year I decided to concentrate on my work blog on my website, as well as writing some ghost blogs for other people.
After building up my portfolio of clients over a year it felt like my working world collapsed around me in June, through no fault of my own. One of my clients and I don’t blame them in anyway decided to move their admin support in-house leaving me with a large gap in the hours I worked. No problem I thought – a change is always refreshing, I have gained some valuable experience in new fields, so I can easily (as I have done before) find some new clients. The reality was somewhat different, I applied for everything I thought I could do, using the various platforms I have used before. By this point we were approaching July – I spent hours reading articles online, making decisions, about logos, a website relaunch and braving it out the house to networking and tried to remain optimistic, while watching my bank balance diminish. I have a policy that whenever anyone does any work for me I pay them immediately, because the number of small businesses that fail due to late payments is high and having worked for people that take up to 6 months to pay I don’t appreciate people doing it to me so why would I treat someone in that way.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was fortunate to have a holiday, purely because my parents live abroad, I’m not sure I was much fun. My teenage daughter tells me that I was miserable when we were away and even worse when we got home! I believe her because she has to put up with me.
With September dawning and having worked my way through my savings, as any freelancer will tell you, you work when the work is there and save for the lean times. It was time to make some decisions. I discussed with my daughter the possibility that I would close the business down and look for a job. I also made one of the hardest decisions ever, to claim help again and on my daughter’s first day back at school I went to do this. However, then I turned a corner, all the jobs I had applied for back in July started contacting me for interviews and in the space of 10 days I turned it around and took on 5 new clients.
Note to self - gaining new clients is fantastic, but scary at the same time, especially when they all want you to start within 3 days of each other. There was a lot of juggling, late nights and very early mornings, to get to grips with what needed doing and perhaps less cooking than usual!
Having completed the initial trials with these clients I feel that things are on the up, I have more than doubled the number of clients – my ambition was to have 10 and at times I have worked with 12, so mission accomplished or maybe not. There is always room for more, as some projects naturally come to a conclusion.
However, this has been a major learning curve, it is not the first time I have worked with one major client and then the work has dried up and left me in this position (although that was when I first started out 7 years ago). However, I didn’t expect it to happen again. I can hear you shouting at me – why were you so stupid? I asked myself that as well. My confidence was knocked, and I questioned my capabilities, both personally and professionally. I wanted to prove to my teenage daughter that I was a good role model, but felt I had let her down.
Now as year-end is approaching not only am I working with a number of clients and feeling more confident, both personally and professionally, I am volunteering for a local charity, as well as running a Single Parent Gingerbread group in my local area. So, my advice to anyone in a similar situation is you can turn it round with perseverance hard work and determination.
I would like to thank all those people who have supported me both knowingly and unknowingly over the last 6 months and most of all the biggest thank you is to my beautiful daughter.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year – I hope the new year brings you everything you want.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
I am a small business Virtual Assistant and run my business freeing people up to do what they do best, while loving the paperwork you hate!