I wanted to take some time to write this piece for two reasons.
- I genuinely didn’t have any time to write this and give it the thought it deserved
2. Although I write personal pieces all the time over on Medium, I tend to focus on imminent topics rather than reflective pieces on my journey as a freelancer
Firstly, I wanted to say an incredibly belated thank you to the clients who hired me for projects last year. It was difficult for all of us, and if it wasn’t for the power of LinkedIn I would have had no money and no prospects.
Deciding to take the plunge as a freelancer was a deliberate choice, something that I’d thought about for many years beforehand. Before I started my career in Recruitment back in 2016, my dream was to be a freelance writer, whether that was as a journalist (not tabloids, ever) or a copywriter.
All my employers (and even friends) didn’t know that for the vast majority of my career I had freelanced on the side of whatever else I was doing, but unfortunately fell into the trap of “it’s not the right time” and kept putting it off.
Deciding to trial my freelancing back in November 2019 three weeks before I was due to backpack around the world was genuinely the best career move I ever made. Although my travels were cut short in March 2020, and I’m not living the “Digital Nomad” dream any more, I believe my passion for writing has kept me sane during some of my darkest days, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Quitting my “safety” role to pursue my passion has made me a nicer person
I can already imagine people I know reading this and rolling their eyes thinking, “OK Claire”, but without sounding like a walking, talking, cringey cliché – looking back at when I worked in Recruitment, I don’t think I was a happy person.
Now, don’t get me wrong – some of the best moments of my life happened when I worked in Recruitment. It opened doors for me to develop my copywriting niche (Recruitment), introduced me to my long-term boyfriend, and gave me the financial means to become a copywriter in the first place.
But, if there’s one change I’ve noticed in myself, it’s that in hindsight I was deeply unhappy working in a role that only gave me monetary fulfilment. I know that others truly feel fulfilled by recruitment, and I always yearned to reach that peak. But when I eventually hit my monetary goals, had a team and progressed to management level – it was somewhat of an anti-climax.
Deep down, the reason why I was unhappy was because although recruitment gave me so much and allows me to this day to network with some of the most engaging agencies and brands globally, it just wasn’t what I wanted to do as a long-term career.
I still look back at my days in recruitment with fondness and gratitude, but it’s an industry I prefer to write for, rather than actually doing recruitment.
Although freelancing has been incredibly gruelling both mentally and physically (back when travel was a thing, running around to offices takes it out of you) it’s made me a better individual both personally and professionally.
Being Self-Employed forces you to look after yourself
Looking back on my working life, from starting my first job at 14 and leaving recruitment at 24, I never looked after myself physically or mentally – because I had the safety net of sick pay, and an employer to fall back on.
For those who worked with me back in Recruitment, you’ll all know my long-term love affair with alcohol, and generally going out because socialising and partying was my way to let off steam. Now, I’m not saying I’ve turned into Doris who knits at the weekends (imagine), but I actually care about my health and wellness now because, well, I can’t take sick days or move a candidate call because my brain isn’t functioning on a Monday morning after a heavy weekend.
Towards the end of my time in recruitment I really wasn’t looking after myself physically and mentally, and after going through some intense therapy last year, I’m now forced to look after myself! Some would say I’m officially adulting, and they would be correct.
Being Self-Employed teaches you patience
My patience level is somewhat comparable to the attention span of a fly, but flying off the handle and acting irrationally doesn’t seem to pair well with being self-employed. It’s a long slog, and there are days where I want to tear my hair out, however, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s given me a new outlook on patience, something which I have struggled to master for the majority of my life. Dare I say this whole experience has made me calm and patient? I guess if I (ever) return to working for someone else, that will be the real test.
Why I’m sharing this
I like to think that I’ve got a professional persona online, but it wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t share the journey with people who pay me to write for them. I think vulnerability is a wonderful thing, and I’ve learned so much about myself and others since biting the bullet and doing something for myself.
I guess the importance of this blog is to mark a milestone for myself (it’s nearly 18 months being a one-woman-band), and to gently remind anyone who is working in a job that isn’t fulfilling them to make a change and do something that will make you happy.
Also, there is too much information out there that tells you that you can’t make money from your passion, and I call bullshit on that. If you really want to monetise your passion and carve out a career from it, you absolutely can.
Anyway, thanks for coming on the journey since 2019, here’s to many more years (hopefully) of doing this!