What my first year as a marketing freelancer taught me


January 20, 2022

Claire Moorhead


This time last year, I was still in my corporate marketing job and miserable. I had been back at work 5 months post my maternity leave but I just couldn’t settle back in. Well, it was a bit worse than that; I nearly had a nervous break down but I’ll save that story for another day. Anyway, following some counselling and some conversations with HR, in Feb 2021, I said goodbye to my familiar corporate career and took the leap in freelancing and working for myself.

Looking back now, I don’t think I could have ever imagined the year that was ahead.

I have worked some insane hours.

I’ve worn a zillion different hats and taken too many things personally, but I have also had the best on-the-job experience in entrepreneurship and had the kind of flexibility to work around my son that I only dreamt of.

It’s certainly been a rollercoaster and I think my husband probably thought I lost the plot at times – I went from going to bed each night worrying about how I was going to get clients to how I was going to manage all the work!

When I started back at work this year, I sat down and reflected on what a year it had been, and here are the things that last year taught me and in sharing this, I hope it might also help you if you’re just starting out as a freelancer.

So, here goes. Let’s start with the good…

You can make money doing what you love

It might sound crazy, but this has been such a revelation!

I always thought this was a trade-off and in order to make decent money, you had to trade your time doing something that you didn’t enjoy.

Taking messy action is better than doing nothing, perfectly!

Confession – I’m a bit of a perfectionist and have been so guilty of “over-analysis paralysis” meaning things take ages to do or I talk myself out of doing them – this is NOT the way to go.

Just f*cking do it. And if it’s wrong or doesn’t work – change it and/or learn from it.

It all starts and ends with you!

No one else is responsible for your success. Even if you’re paying money to a mentor or coach.

If you believe you are good enough and can do it, so will everyone else. You are the only person responsible for your own success, no one else.

Building a community is so much more important than growing your followers

It’s so easy to get caught up in your follower numbers – watching them go up and down is distracting and (can be) stressful.

Building genuine connections and having an engaged audience is far more valuable than having huge follower numbers.

Networking works but not as you know it.

Having advocates and recommendations is not only one of the best ways to sign dream clients, it’s also great for morale – it can be lonely as a freelancer, and having the support of others in the same industry is everything.

Thanks to social media, you can do this from the comfort of your own home – no need for awkward coffee mornings (unless you like those, of course).

As per my previous point, building a community is key to success and thriving.

Sometimes it’s best just to let go.

Guess what? The client isn’t always right and sometimes you need to let go of toxic relationships (whether it be personal or professional).

Your clients need to be the right fit for you too; it’s a two-way relationship and if it doesn’t feel right – let go to make way for clients that are.

Taking a break is more productive than not.

Make no mistake, you absolutely have to prioritise your mental health.

Boundaries get blurred when you’re running your own business. It’s hard to cut off from work and if you’re anything like me, who can take things personally, it can be really emotionally draining.

You might literally have to force yourself to take a break.

There will be ups and there will be downs

This is just life though, right?  

Never has this been more apparent and both financially and emotionally. Unlike a corporate job, you don’t have that steady you’re a money magnet. There are weeks when your clients love you and weeks when you can’t seem to get it right.

There are always ebbs and flows but it all works out in the end.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments.

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