January 2019 will always be special to me as it’s the month I became a freelancer, opened Stripe Social for business and started a new chapter in my life. I’ve seen so many social media posts recently where people have been talking about how long January has felt to them but I have to disagree. I think it’s flown by. Probably because I’ve been involved in the mundane setting up a business ‘stuff’ but also because I’ve got involved with and taken part in loads of fun ‘stuff’ too. As the month ends, I thought I would stop and take stock of what I’ve been up to and share things that you may be interested in too.
So here’s what I did in January, in no particular order…
- Talked to anyone who will listen about Stripe Social and the benefits of investing in Social Media Marketing. I think my friends and family are at the nod and smile stage now but if I don’t talk about it the who will?
- Designed my business cards and had them printed by Moo.
- Took part in the Brand New Mum 90 day planning session which was brilliant as it helped me empty my head out onto paper and refine everything down into three main goals which I could then break up into smaller tasks. Much more achievable than keeping everything in my jumbled brain.
- Found out I’d passed the Digital Mums Associate Programme – hooray!
- Read every “Things I wish I’d known before going freelance” blog on the internet.
- Asked my accountant friend several incredibly stupid questions about tax returns, National Insurance and VAT (I’ve never had to do this stuff before!)
- Joined weekly Tweet Chats held by Go with the Pro and Mumpreneurs Club. I was instantly welcomed into both which was so lovely. The chats have covered all sorts from embracing change in your business to how to own it on Instagram. I really enjoy the chats and getting to know and hear from other freelancers. Everyone brings a different experience or background or skill set to the conversation and you leave brimming with advice and hints and tips. It’s well worth an hour of your time in the evening.
- Similarly I joined Facebook groups, specifically Freelancing Females, Go with the Pro and Freelance Heroes. Again, they’re really lovely supportive communities. I’ve been able to ask questions and get advice and just hope I can repay them in kind when I’ve got a bit of experience under my belt!
- Joined Matt Navara’s social media news messenger group. I already stalk him on Twitter and now he delivers hot off the press social media news straight to my inbox!
- I had a great one hour personal branding session with Nicole from Go With the Pro (which I won by bringing strong GIF game to one of their tweet chats!) We discussed (amongst other things) bringing my story and my ‘why’ out more in my personal branding and how to nail my elevator pitch (basically just repeat it over and over. When it starts to drive your other half nuts then you’ve probably cracked it.)
- I’ve really got into listening to podcasts this month. What a revelation! I particular I’ve been listening to Sarah Tasker’s #Authentic and Kayte Ferris’ Grow with Soul. Sarah’s passion is Instagram and exploring creative processes. I enjoy listening to how she has built her Insta community and the creative journeys her guests have been on. Kayte focuses on slow marketing and building a business and life that is true to you. I’ve found it helpful I terms of thinking about what I really want and stripping out the unnecessary stuff.
- When I’m not scrolling away or have my head phones in then I’ve had my nose stuck in Michelle Obama’s autobiography ‘Becoming.’ Whilst not a business book, I think she’s an incredible example of how a woman should behave in the workplace (basically if you want it work hard and go and get it). She’s also a working mother and has had her struggles trying to balance family life. It’s so reassuring to read that even the former First Lady has the same stresses and worries as the rest of us.
It’s mostly been a great month but unfortunately, our household has been hit with several bouts of illness this month (me and the toddler) which meant that I couldn’t attend the two networking events I’d planned on going to. It also meant that I pretty much neglected my social channels for a week which is so frustrating when you’re working so hard to put yourself out there but also a part of freelance life that I’m going to have to learn to manage.
Another aspect of freelance life I’ve found a little difficult at times is that it can be quite lonely. Not that I don’t enjoy the peace and quiet from the toddler during the day but I sometimes miss having a team around me to talk to or go grab a coffee with. I do have my Digital Mums peer group to call on, bounce ideas around or have a general moan at though. I don’t know where I would be without them! I should probably also buy shares in Costa as I spend A LOT of time in there now.
I’ve found that work and family life seem to fit around each other really well. We’ve all fallen into a natural ‘routine’ which is good because the toddler is doing shorter days at pre-school now so I was worried about having enough time in the day to get things done. Now I pick her up at 3pm then have a couple of hours with her before the other half comes home. He’ll then take over for an hour or so if I need to finish something off or make a call. I’m actually seeing more of her than I was before which is great (unless it’s a particularly threenagery day then sometimes I see the allure of after school club!)
See I told you it’s been a busy month! In amongst all this I’ve had calls with potential clients and sent out a couple of proposals, so fingers crossed in my February round up I’ll have more news on that front. I always knew that success wasn’t going to happen overnight. Most days I’m OK with this but sometimes I do get frustrated that things aren’t happening faster. I suppose this is natural and again an aspect of freelance life I’ll need to learn to live with. The experience has mostly been positive though and very day I’m learning something about the process which I would definitely not have learned in a text book or online course!
How was your January fellow freelancers? Any pearls of wisdom to share with this newbie?