Freelancing update: How I’m doing after one-year full time blogging and freelancing

Freelancing update: How I’m doing after one-year full time blogging and freelancing

It’s been exactly one year since I left my 10 year career in Banking, managing a funds platform, and dived into the world of full time blogging and freelancing. I started exactly as I meant to go on by flying to Doha, Qatar on a press trip the morning after my leaving do (with a slightly sore head nevertheless).

During this first year of self employment I have spent some time travelling, reading books (something I never had time for before), going for day time meetings and events that I had to miss the majority of before, shooting a lot of food photos, managing the digital platforms for my three clients and totally enjoying being my own boss and working for myself.

I also won the Post Office Travel and Food Blogger of the Year 2018 which was wonderful and I look forward to planning my dream trip of a lifetime for next year to India so watch this space!

10 Things I have learned from the first year of being self-employed

Here are 10 things that I have learned from the first year of being self-employed:

1.Time management is crucial

When you are suddenly accountable for your own deadlines, for structuring your own day, managing your diary, time management is off the essence. Although it may feel like you suddenly have so much time at your disposal, using it wisely is key.

I have found spending time on a Sunday using scheduling apps such a great way to free up time during the week for other tasks or unplanned situations or meetings.

Having a dedicated office space in my house has also helped me get myself into the right frame of mind to work and far away from the temptation of my bed, sofa or from checking what is in the fridge every five minutes.

I also schedule one day a week where I spend time on me just to have a balance as when you are self employed you can end up working longer hours than in a full time job depending on what is going on with your clients and projects.

2. Self discipline is important

No one is giving you a quarterly performance appraisal anymore or chasing you up on tasks and so you have to learn how to be self disciplined and check in with yourself and making sure you are managing your projects and work well, meeting all your deadlines, accomplishing your plans and hitting your goals all by yourself.

I like to track things in a spreadsheet and review it every month just to have a sense of discipline and order. I also have a daily to-do list that helps me prioritise my work and stay on track.

3. Budgeting is essential

When you are suddenly not paid on the same day every month or the same amount every month, budgeting becomes even more important. I pay myself a set amount every month (on the 20th of every month out of habit) just to have some structure and put aside the rest in savings.

4. Invoicing and keeping track of expenses

Keeping track of your invoices and companies payment schedules becomes even more important as you don’t have the luxury of a BACS payment on the same date every month.

Chasing invoices is not fun but sometimes necessary and so I like to mark my calendar with dates when I am expecting various payments to stay on top of it all. I have also learned how to be tougher and implement late payment charges if necessary as at the end of the day a business and an individual have expenses to pay too.

5. That I can work from anywhere

The great thing about being self-employed and working in the digital space is that you can pretty much work from anywhere as long as you have data/wifi. I have been able to manage working whilst travelling too as long as I am very organised and have access to the internet.

I have tried to go work from other places as well as have booked myself a solo trip to Bangkok and Bali in October to live that laptop lifestyle and see how I get on. If I enjoy it, there will be more of it next year!

 6. Charging my worth

I have lost count of the amount of times people have wasted my time asking me for advice sugar coated as “tell me what to do for free” or have asked me for my charges and then asked me to give them a discount. I have learned to stand by my charges and realise my worth, even if they say I am too expensive or make a snide comment.

At the end of the day I am a small business and I too have to pay my bills (and mortgage)!

7. That some people won’t understand what I do and that’s okay

I have had people tell me when I was initially about to step into the world of full time blogging that it was a huge mistake and that blogging would be dead soon.

I have also come across people that don’t understand my freelance work and have made comments like “you just post on Instagram? That’s all you do?”

That’s okay – no need to explain the hours I spend planning, content creating, taking photos, editing those photos, writing posts, publishing posts, maintaining a content schedule, promoting across social media platforms 365 days a year, 24/7, or attending meetings and events, networking, managing my finances, bookkeeping and invoicing…all that which goes on behind the scenes…

8. That Self care is a priority

Making sure you aren’t getting overwhelmed, taking time off and having a work life balance is really important. Sometimes I have evening events that mean I get home at 11pm or midnight and I still need to be up early the next day to work and so I have tried not to schedule things for every single evening to have a breather and a chance to relax.

9. The continued importance of my morning routine

Life is … Getting up an hour early to live an hour more.
 When I was at HSBC I had a morning routine that meant I got up at 5am every morning to spend time on my blog before I went to work. I still have a morning routine and instead I now wake up at 6, jump in the shower and then spend an hour leisurely having coffee, my breakfast and reading a chapter of a book (usually a personal development or business book), followed by some time meditating and writing in my gratitude journal before kicking off my day.

Followers of my Instagram account will know that I always post a positive message every morning too. It’s all about those positive affirmations!

10. Saying no sometimes is very necessary

Finally, saying no sometimes, to new projects, new clients, events, reviews or even trips, has been necessary just to stay on top of things, manage my time well, stay true to my niche and focus on what I love.

It’s difficult to turn down paid work but knowing when to say ‘no’ is an important business skill. When you have an instinct that a potential project or client just ‘doesn’t feel right’ its sometimes best to go with your gut feeling.

Travel

I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit during this time and here’s where I have been since September 2017:

Doha, Qatar

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2017/10/16/why-qatar-needs-to-be-on-your-radar/

Hong Kong

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2017/11/30/my-top-things-to-do-in-hong-kong/

Bali

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2017/12/19/things-to-do-in-bali-indonesia/

Lausanne

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2017/12/28/top-things-to-do-on-a-winter-break-in-lausanne-switzerland/

Hampshire

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/02/18/hotel-review-a-slice-of-country-living-at-four-seasons-hampshire/

Barnby Moor

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/01/13/review-ye-olde-bell-hotel-and-spa/

Palma

You can read about my trip here:

 https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/03/12/top-10-things-to-do-in-palma-mallorca/

Rome

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/04/23/how-to-make-the-most-of-rome-in-3-days/

Santorini

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/05/09/travel-guide-santorini-greece/

York

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/05/31/a-taster-of-the-superbreak-masterchef-travel-dining-break-in-york-with-a-sara-danesin-medio-private-cookery-experience/

Jura, France

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/06/26/a-trip-to-the-jura-massif-region-of-france-to-learn-all-about-comte-cheese/

Verbier

You can read about my trip here:

https://www.binnysfoodandtravel.com/2018/07/03/luxurious-swiss-chalet-chic-at-the-lodge-verbier/

At the time of writing this I will be on my way back from India. My travel plans for the remainder of the year are Bali, where I will be working from for a few days, followed by Thailand, where I will be visiting Bangkok, Khao Lak and Phuket.

Thanks for reading xx

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Binita Shah-Patel

Hi, I’m Binny – a writer, dreamer, serial wanderluster and travel addict. I am originally from Kenya but now live in London. I set up this blog to share my experiences eating out as well as travelling.

I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way.

It’s my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible.

Find me on: Web | Twitter

11 Comments

  1. Kamal
    September 28, 2018 / 4:29 am

    Hi binny, relate to your article completely… my journey is just begining and its exciting times ahead. Thank you for mentoring us with our travel blog Kampur Travel Diaries.

  2. September 28, 2018 / 7:06 am

    This is so super inspiring! And people who make snide comments have NO sense of the work that goes in behind the scenes. Well done on an awesome first year – but as I always say to you, you were doing this even with a full time job at HSBC – which you need to write a book about or mentor people like me as to how you managed such a fantastic balance.

  3. September 28, 2018 / 7:07 am

    Well done Binny and you have come so far in just a year. Wish you all the best in the future blogging ventures.

  4. September 28, 2018 / 8:13 am

    Wow you have had a busy year! Fantastic to read about it all. I have heard people saying a few times recently “Blogging is dead” – apparently it’s all about being an influencer on social media and no one is reading blogs?! I don’t agree at all, what have you found Binny?

  5. September 28, 2018 / 11:21 am

    LOVED this post so much! You are AMAZING at what you do and I cannot wait to see what the next 12 months holds! xxx

  6. September 28, 2018 / 12:15 pm

    I am so happy that you have had such a fantastic year Binny! 🙂 Really inspirational read.

    Lots of love and luck for the the next year!

    XX

  7. September 28, 2018 / 4:51 pm

    Binny you have done incredibly well and super proud of what you have achieved in the last year! You are true testament that hard work and following your dream irrespective of what others think is the only way to be! Huge congratulations and here’s to the future xx

  8. September 29, 2018 / 9:40 am

    What a wonderful wonderful year and I wish you so much future success.

  9. September 30, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    I am so happy to follow along on your journey, Binny! Being self-employed is the best – you have full freedom to plan and experience your life as you choose and that is absolutely priceless. What a wonderful year and wishing you so much future success as well! XOXO

  10. October 2, 2018 / 10:52 am

    I’m so pleased it’s all going so well, you thoroughly deserve all the success. I can’t wait to read all about your next year of adventures! xx

  11. October 10, 2018 / 1:09 pm

    What an incredible year you have had! Full of adventure and excitement x

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