When Boy Dom and I first got together – a whole seven years ago – I worked in the sales department of a call centre, and he worked from home as a photo retoucher. In the beginning, my job was relatively easy, the bonus structure was lucrative, and I loved being part of a team environment (team nights out, ‘banter’, and Christmas parties – what’s not to love?), and so Boy Dom’s self-employed status didn’t interest me. Then as my job took a turn for the worst – teammates began to leave, targets were stretched, and the previous high paid bonuses were reduced – the self-employed, working from home lifestyle started to look more appealing. I wanted to be part of the pyjama wearing crew (yes, I’m aware that not all self-employed people wear pyjamas to work, but Boy Dom did so I wanted to be in his gang).
Every morning, I was brushing my hair, applying makeup and leaving the house to battle the rush hour traffic, while Dominic had the luxury of speaking to clients and working in the comfort of his pj’s in our flat (I was quite hung up on the pyjama wearing, can you tell?). Like many 9-5 jobs, I was on a strict break schedule with every minute scrutinised, while he took his breaks whenever he liked and (depending on his work load) for however long he liked. This carried on for years, and although I’d played with different ideas, trialled out new ways of being able to take the leap and leave my 9-5 (at one point selling phone cases on eBay), nothing came to fruition. That was until October 2015 when our child care system for Penny began to crumble, and we made the joint decision for me to leave. I was waking up every morning wishing that I was poorly (nothing too serious, of course, just a lost voice or broken wrist, something small but still big enough for me to use a sick day ). Chances of me earning any bonus were now nonexistent (turns out I’m pretty shit at sales), and because we were lucky enough to have the extra security blanket of living with my mam, for us, it made sense. This scary decision was the best decision we could have ever made as it gave me the extra time I needed to concentrate on my blog and my Instagram, and soon I started to earn money from these platforms. And as they say, the rest is history.
Looking back, I was naive to be so hung up on Dominic’s ‘luxury life’. The vision of self-employed that I was seeing was very different to what was really going on (I think the allure of wearing pyjamas all day was clouding my judgement). While I envied his flexible working hours, I turned a blind eye to the late nights (sometimes all nighters) he had to pull to meet a deadline. While I came home feeling down in the dumps about my crappy day, I turned on the TV and forgot all about it, but the fact that Dominic never switched off went unnoticed. And most importantly, while I enjoyed my guaranteed wage with the added reward of an end of the month bonus (back in the days when I was selling what I was meant to be selling), he was in the dark as to what his earnings would be month by month. So, my first view of this self-employed world was through very rose-tinted glasses. I saw all of the positives but didn’t even consider the negatives.
I’ve now been a self-employed blogger/Instagrammer for about 6 months – the length of time I’ve been actually making money from this rather than only receiving products or sharing pretty pictures for fun. And although there are many, many positives of being your own boss, and I wouldn’t change a thing, there are also some parts of it that I would like to tweak. So, I thought I’d give you my thoughts on being a self-employed Instagrammer.
The good parts…
Flexible working hours
One of the most enjoyable parts of being self-employed is the flexibility. I understand that this won’t apply to all, but in my case, I can be very flexible. So, when it comes to the girls, I’m always around. I can do school runs, go to all the sports days, plays, performances, there isn’t one activity that I miss (unless of course, I forget, then I just become the worst mam ever).
There’s also the added bonus of being able to slide your working day back, forward, and deciding on a rota that works for you – and if you want to add a coffee date in with a friend, you can just work till late to accommodate it.
Being your own boss
It’s taught me so much about the world of business, and now I’m the front woman for it all. I don’t have anyone to answer to, there is no one in a higher position than me (although, Boy Dom does need reminding of that sometimes), and it’s my choice what work I take on. And although at times, it can be overwhelming, it mostly feels good to be in control of your work. Now I kind of feel bad for rolling my eyes at my old bosses for being so stressed, and being on our backs all of the time. Business can be rather stressful – who knew? 😉
My colleague is pretty awesome
My work colleague is cool and on top of that, he’s also pretty hot. Ok, so yes I’m talking about Boy Dom, but sharing an office with someone I like, love, in fact, is great. We can both read each other well (I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been together for 7 years), so we both know when the other is intensely into their work and shouldn’t be disturbed or when it’s more relaxed and they’re up for a chat. We enjoy listening to the same music (until I push my luck bu sliding in a bit of Enya), we listen to the same comedians on YouTube as we work, and he’s very forthcoming with the cups of tea. So, after working alongside people who perhaps aren’t as enjoyable to sit next to or with the same interests as Boy Dom, I know I’m onto a good thing. Plus, our ‘business meetings’ at the pub at lunchtime while the kids are at school make me very happy.
No day is the same, and I never know what job offers I’ll get next. My old job, outbound sales, was incredibly monotonous. I followed the same script on every call, all day, all week, all month (probably why I was so bad at it, I mean, where was the personalised service, Dominique?). A lot of the time it felt like groundhog day, so to get excited whenever I see a new email land in my mailbox bringing with it new opportunities, is a real luxury.
I get to wear my pyjamas. All day. (but weirdly, I never do).
The not so good parts…
Job title confusion
I still don’t know what my job is.
*meeting a new mam in the school yard*
Mam: “So, what is it you do?”
Me: “Well, erm….well I’m a, I take pictures, I
on Instagram. So, I guess I’m like a blogger type thing.”
You get the gist. I can’t seem to shake off the feeling that people are thinking that I’m just being a little overexcited about my Instagram addiction and trying to pass it off as a job.
In my old job, I was paid a set wage, and if I met my sales targets (admittedly something that became a rarity at the end of my time there because like I said, I was shit), I would be rewarded with an additional monetary bonus on top of my set monthly wage. The stability of this was great; I always knew what money would be coming in, what I could afford, and I could budget for the upcoming months. And although my ability to manage my finances has never been something to brag about (more like something I should hide), the security of a guaranteed wage certainly helped. Now, my job doesn’t have that stability, and my earnings can fluctuate month to month. Some are good, some are bad, and if I have a quiet week and receive a relatively low amount of emails, I begin to panic. What if I can’t buy croissants (#firstworldproblems)? What if I never get another job offer ever again? What if everyone clicks unfollow? Argh!
Oh, the little stinkers. There are many brands and agencies that pay on time – some even earlier than you expect them to – and to them, I’d like to say a great big thank you – thank you! However, there are times when you’re expecting a payment to arrive the day before your bills are due to come out (and you kind of really need it to be there the next day), and it doesn’t. I’m starting to get my head around the fact that these payment guidelines are exactly that, just a guideline. You can’t rely on any payment, and they’re never guaranteed. Even with the lengthy 60-90 days terms that some impose, payments are still sometimes late, and after speaking to other bloggers, it can get a lot worse. Late payments are shit, they’re stressful, but they’re part and parcel of self-employed life.
I never switch off
Like I mentioned earlier, at my old job I had zero responsibility. Once that clock hit 6.00pm, I switched my mind off along with my computer, I’d run out the door, and it wouldn’t think about work again until 10 am the next day. I would watch TV, read a book, and sit down to enjoy my night from 7.30pm. Nowadays, completely switching off and forgetting about work is unheard of and the only time I actually turn off my work head is when I go to the cinema or when I go to my nana’s – both places where I’m not allowed to sit on my phone. If the odd occasion does arise, and I tear myself away from the laptop, I immediately feel pangs of guilt. I should be working. I should be answering those emails. There’s always something more I could be doing.
Zero sick days
Sick days are not permitted. I wouldn’t like to say that I abused my sick days when I worked for someone else, more like I would take them more easily and maybe that my sicknesses tended to last a few days longer than they do now. If I fall poorly these days, I can’t really spend the day on the sofa binge watching series. Instead, I actually toughen up and carry on. And, unless I’m physically hurling the contents of my stomach into the toilet, pangs of guilt will rush over me if I even consider taking my duvet onto the sofa with me.
Are you self-employed? Would you like to be? What are your thoughts on it?