ad // Self employment is… a ride. To say the least. If you’re not self employed, you really can’t begin to imagine what it’s like and all the different parts that make up a self employed role. Of course all jobs are difficult and challenging at times, I’m not disputing that. But self employment is all I’ve known for QUITE some time.

I sort of fell into self employment which might sound like a dream to some but truthfully, I was blissfully unaware and naïve about it. I never actively set out to become a full-time blogger; it was thanks to my anxiety disorder that I’m even here, doing this. Although I am grateful for this job and the blogging opportunities it’s given me, it has been a bit of a shock to the system.

And despite having been self employed for around 5 years, it STILL continues to be a shock to the system.

There are various aspects of life that can be impacted by self employment. For me, at least, the most prominent aspect was my mental health. Which wasn’t surprising, considering I’ve suffered with mental illness for a decade now. The culture shock of being self employed is not easy on your poor ol’ brain sometimes!

But of course, it doesn’t stop there. From self motivation, to taxes, to that elusive work/life balance, there are so many areas we need to grow and practice when we’re self employed. So here are some things I wish I knew and did before becoming self employed IF I had purposefully set out to do it. These things would have made me much more capable!

I wish I had learned about accounting and taxes earlier

Of course I knew I had to keep track of my incomings etc right from the get-go but I wasn’t earning enough to pay tax for so long (before I really went full-time with my blog and started earning a full-time income from it) that I didn’t take it seriously enough. My records from 5 years ago are a MESS.

I could have definitely benefitted from some sort of course or even hiring an accounting for small business accounting just to get everything in order for me. I don’t know why I was so insistent on doing everything old school on pen and paper but alas, here we are.

Managing the quiet months

Here I am, over half a decade into my self employed career and I’ve just had the quietest month (February 2022) in terms of work and income I’ve had in over 2 and a half years. And I did NOT cope with it very well. I know how to keep busy during quiet blogging months but I wish I had understood this side of being self employed early on.

You NEED a dedicated work space

This one is so bad it almost makes me laugh. I was working from my bedroom for YEARS. I mean years. But it wasn’t until the pandemic happened and I had no privacy or quiet to get my work done did I realize just how much I needed my own office space. Luckily in 2020 I finally got my garden office and it’s been a godsend. I just wish I hadn’t postponed it for so long.

Self motivation is hard – regardless of how productive you are

I am one of the most productive and organized people I know. I rarely procrastinate, I work from a to-do list every single day and I just like to get the sh*t done. But I still struggle with self motivation, particularly if I’ve had a bad experience, have something going on that’s distracting me or are having a quiet work month.

Your mental health can really get in the way

And this one. OH BOY. This point could be an entire blog post on it’s own but it’s SO relevant and I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate. When you don’t have a boss to tell you to get on with your work, it’s incredibly tempting to just get back into bed, have a cry, eat chocolate and go to sleep when your mental health is bad. I’ve done that more times than I care to admit.

If you’re self employed, I’d love to hear what you wish you knew beforehand! Do you agree with any of these points?

50 Comments

  1. A business plan is highly recommended. A business plan is the road map to your success.
    As an entrepreneur starting a business, marketing plan, financial plan and others are very important.

  2. One of my partner’s parents is self-employed. So, I don’t know any awful lot about it. It is something I have been considering for quite some time now. Getting a few businesses off the ground, one of these days. Just life keeps deciding I am needing down a different path for the time being. I think these tips you’ve mentioned above, I will definitely take into consideration for when the time comes and I do get round to sorting something out – if and when that will be, I’m not sure. But thank you for sharing your advice, Jenny.

      1. Thank you, I think it has just been something I’ve wanted to do. Just cannot see me doing it just yet. The more information I can get hold of now though, will help me in the future definitely ^_^

  3. My mum was self employed for a while in my teen years so thankfully I already knew a lot about taxes etc as a newbie but the things I really struggle with the most is boundaries. My work schedule is all over the place because I’m more later in the day so my schedule is slightly off the norm anyway and it infiltrates life so much when your personal laptop/ social media/ phone are all semi-work related.

  4. I’m still struggling on how to cope with quiet months. This month is proving even worse but I’ve just applied to quite a well paid freelance job, so I’m hoping it goes through. Thanks for this – it’s reminds me why I’m not fully self-employed. I don’t think I’d cope.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a quiet one. Last month for me was DIRE but this month has been great so it will pick up, patience is so key but it’s really hard to manage it sometimes xxx

  5. I don’t know what else I *would* be doing tbh but with the ~current situation~ being out and about normally is still a big no so I’m looking at things I can do myself from home. I learnt bookkeeping on a whim before I started doing art last time, I’m glad I did now! x

  6. Thank you so much for sharing these with us lovely. I know a couple of my friends will really learn from this post as their thinking about going self-employed. You’ve been really open and honest and I appreciate that. It can imagine it can be so scary going self-employed! Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  7. These are ALL so true! I am self-employed and what I thought self-employment was, did not materialise HA! I was confused, stressed and panicky at the very beginning, rather than excited and ready to conquer it. I am a little better now and I have hired someone to do my tax return as I didn’t even know where to start!

  8. I’m not even self employed yet but I can imagine the kind of struggle it must be. I plan to be self employed but, I’m not mentally prepared for it. My blog isn’t making enough yet to sustain me.
    Thanks for sharing your honest opinion about being a full time blogger

  9. I so enjoyed reading this as it provides helpful thoughts on how bloggers can approach blogging in general, either as hobby bloggers or bloggers looking to step up their game and go full-time. It is important to go into everything as educated as possible about what the future will look like! <3

  10. This was a really informative and home post Jenny. It was helpful to know about your struggles. I am blogging for less than a year but I would like it to evolve into something bigger. Learning from those who have already walked the path is always a precious lesson. Thank you!

  11. This was really interesting to read. Going self employed is something that I’d like to achieve in the future so its good to hear things from your perspective.

  12. Such a refreshing and honest post which doesnt idealise the notion of being self-employed, so many people make it sound more glitz and glam than it is x

  13. This is such a useful post, thanks for sharing. I’m not self-employed but it’s definitely something I’ve thought about and it’s great to know what to think about before taking the plunge.

  14. Such a well-written post…like a breath of fresh spring air! You are such an inspiration to others and it really shines through in your posts. You command such a sense of your own originality and you are able to communicate so many important truths to others. You did find your ‘dream job’, and you are so very good at it! And now, you have a garden office too! 🙂 Time to celebrate! Fresh flowers on the desk and a thank you note to yourself for showing up each day and making your dreams come true.

  15. Oh man! I actually DO work from my bedroom – I’m not full time, but I can definitely see that it would be helpful to have a work space. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that right now, but I’m hoping to create an office once I have a bigger place.

  16. Good sharing! I need to take note on these five things as well. I’m also self-employed and starting my own company soon. Yeah, everything has pros and cons, beauty and challenges. I agree with you on that. Being employed by people also has a lot of challenges. I once had a bad mental health when I was working with people. I don’t have a good relationship with my ex boss. Just sharing.

  17. I only blog on the side around my day job, and I’m glad I do that. I don’t think I’d ever want the pressure of having to worry about whether I had enough work and putting myself out there all the time. My OH is self employed and always has been, in one of the worst industries for mental health (farming). He can’t imagine working for anyone else!

    1. Oh wow, I’d love to know how that’s one of the worst industries for mental health. I don’t know much about farming other than what I saw on the Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm programme!

  18. My current circumstances have changed and working on my blog as my main role could be an option. However, this post is really helpful, because if I really did want to do this, I would definitely need to learn about taxes. Thank you for sharing this honest post Jenny.

    Lauren – http://www.bournemouthgirl.com

  19. I love how honesty you have been about your experience and I can also relate to this! Thank you for sharing this was a great read! Claire 💕

  20. This post is very timely since I will be self employed myself soon. Thank you for sharing all the aspects of it. I agree even though I am like you, that I am self disciplined but on bad days it is hard to stay motivated. When I feel those moments I give a productive break, meaning I go and do something productive while keeping my mind away from the work, like organizing a place and it really helps!

  21. Thank you for being so honest about your experience being self-employed. I think being self-employed is often glamorised so its refreshing to read something so honest. I can see how it must be difficult to motivate yourself to work. Even just working from home I’ve seen the importance of having a dedicate workspace. I suppose being self employed appeals to me as you have flexibility with when you work.

    1. Flexibility for SURE which is a HUGE advantage! But that also means you have the flexibility to like, have a day off or go back to bed when maybe you shouldn’t. Swings and roundabouts!

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