As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I’ve gone self employed relying 100% on income from my blog and other freelance writing projects. I have been dabbling in this for a while however I was relying on income support to supplement my earnings as I am a single mother. Since the beginning of June I’ve been gradually making the move over to being fully self employed, well fully as in still working part time hours, but no long in receipt of anything other than tax credits. It’s been a scary time, having to sort out my rent & council tax again.. setting up all my direct debits and really putting a lot of focus into running myself as a business rather than a hobby. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% there yet, as it’s not the summer holidays I’m really struggling to juggle everything but I’m hoping in September I can start promoting myself and my blog, and attending events to network. However today I thought i’d share with you a few tips on how to survive the move from blogging as a hobby to blogging as your job.
Please bare in mind that this isn’t a post telling you how to get paid opportunities, how to market yourself or use SEO as at the moment, I’m still learning this side of thing.. it’s more how to balance everything, and how to stay sane while you do it. It could be applied to any sort of self employed job.
1. Do Your Research.
This is point number one because it’s so important. I did months of research into whether or not this was a viable route for me. I kept strict accounts of my earnings in May and projected earnings for June before I really committed to this to ensure I could live comfortably. I worked out all my outgoings and what I’d need to have coming in to keep my head above water. I’m lucky that I actually have a background in accounting having studied a few years back for some certificates in book keeping and accounts. When it comes to money, tax and national insurance it’s so important that you understand exactly what’s going on. There are places that offer mentoring services in the financial department that can help you understand things better, like the one discussed in the video below;
Or you could pull up the HMRC website but personally I find that rather confusing. Instead I chose to do my research in forums and Facebook groups. There are always people happy to explain the rules and regulations to you. To ensure I was getting the right information I also paid a visit to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Mine was fantastic in giving me all the information I needed for registering as self employed. They’re great at finding a level that matches your understand.
2. Get Organised.
Personal organisation is actually one of my strong points. Growing up I was spoilt, I got a lot of pocket money and when I started to work I could keep every penny I earned. Then I went to university and things changed. I got very little money as my parents earned a lot, I had to take on a job to just have money to live on. I learned early on how to budget to the point I knew where every penny was going. I can make money stretch and I can prioritise what needs paid. Little Miss and I can live well on very little money. However, going self employed means sometimes you don’t have a regular income. Some months you may get a surplus, other months you could get very little. You need to keep a close eye on your earnings and you need to be prepared to save a little every month for those times you don’t earn enough. I set up a separate account to put savings in, which can also be used to cover tax if I end up making over the threshold. I have an accounts spreadsheets so I can keep track of what I need to do, due dates, payment dates and payment amounts. On top of that I keep track of my expenses which I can eventually claim back. I have a paper diary that I keep by my bed so I can wake up each morning and check what deadlines I have coming up so I can prioritise my work. Organisation is absolute key when going self employed because at the end of the day, you’re your own boss.
3. Promotion is Key
Lastly, this is the point I plan on working hard on come September. Promotion. As self employed you’re working for yourself and you need to do all your own advertising and selling of what you have to offer. As a writer for the first time ever I’ve started contacting companies and businesses asking if I can write for them. I look at what I enjoy writing about and try to promote those skills, for example, I like writing about travel and Disney.. so I have made a document containing links to examples of my travel writing to send off. I’m having new business cards made up for networking at events and I’m slowly putting together my media pack. In September I’ll be giving my blog a full overhaul, along with my Facebook page. Again, I’ve been doing researching in ways for me to dress up my blog and social media to really catch eyes.
There is a lot to think about if you decide that you want to go down the self employed route, but I think these three points are key to when you are just starting out. Further down the line I may write some more posts on other aspects on marketing yourself, and using SEO but this will be when I get to grips with it myself. I’m learning every day but I’m hoping that blogging and Internet journalism will be a road I can continue down for many years to come as it means I can still be the best mother possible, because for me, that’s the most important role I have.