Thursday, 20 February 2014

Self-Employment: The best decision I ever made

According to the Independent today, there are more women in work than ever before. 67.2% of women are now in employment which is the highest rate since records began. The article does caution, however, that this increase is largely due to so many women declaring themselves as self-employed:

"The increase was also largely created by more women declaring themselves self-employed, which could mean many pocketing paltry sums far below the minimum wage." The Independent, 20/02/14

On November 3rd 2013 I joined this army of women as a self-employed Editor.

It was the best decision I ever made.

I left job security and a relatively well-paid position (for the industry) and swapped it for the unknown, less stable world of self-employment. Why is this such a good deal?

I get to parent my child
I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mum and I've always wanted to have a successful career. I count myself as very, very lucky to have a vocation where I can have the best of both worlds. The fact is I can't afford to put my daughter in childcare five days a week and I can't afford to work outside the home in a part-time role once a commute is factored in.

Ruby can have play-dates, we can see the health visitor whenever we want to, she can visit her Nana whenever the mood takes us. When she's older we'll be baking cakes, painting and crafting. Yes there are days when I wish I could 'escape' to an office, have face-to-face conversations with my colleagues and put a bit of distance between Ruby and I, but the flexibility I can maintain is by far the biggest advantage to self-employment and working from home.

I set my hours
My hours very much depend on my workflow. Sometimes I work six days a week. Sometimes I don't work at all. But if Ruby is teething and has a tough night, I don't have to drag myself out of bed at an unearthly hour to embark on a long commute and prop my eyelids up with match-sticks. If I'm super busy, I can say no to work (though I haven't done this yet!). I don't have to ask anyone to take the day off, finish early or go on holiday. When you have kids and your spouse is already at the mercy of these restrictions this kind of flexibility is invaluable!

My pay is unlimited
What I'm paid is influenced by whether I'm willing to put in the work. It's not stable, it fluctuates from month-to-month, but even after just a few months with a handful of loyal clients, I am already earning more than my original minimum target. There are no pay structures or glass ceilings, budgets or MDs holding the purse strings. I am in control. If I need more money, I work more. If I don't think I'm being paid enough, I pluck up the courage to negotiate a rate. I am in control and it can only get better from here!

Copyright (c):

I'm building my own business
It was never my intention to commute for miles, work long hours on a paltry wage just to be made to feel like I was lucky to even have that job - all the while lining the pockets of some rich big-wigs. I left University just before the recession hit and was lucky to find employment relatively quickly in a sector that I enjoyed and had trained for. But since then I think our generation has been made to feel like they can't aim higher, they can't ask for pay rises and they can't think of progressing further because, quite frankly, they're lucky to be employed in the first place. Now I am building something for myself. I am lining my own pockets. I am in control and I am building a future for my family rather than just settling for my lot and feeling privileged to have secure employment.

I am an example to my daughter
I want Ruby to grow up thinking she can do anything she wants to do, and that includes being a SAHM if that is what she desires. But I want her to know that if she's willing to take risks and put in a bit of hard work, then good things will happen. I want her to know that she is in control of her own destiny, not her employer. That the skills she obtains have value and that people are willing to pay for them. This is not a debate over being a SAHM or a working mum, this is about being an example to her - if you can't afford to be a SAHM (as I can't), find another way without compromising on your skills and dreams. For some that might be employment, for me it was self-employment.

I'm living the dream
I get paid real money to read craft books. To write about craft. If I fancy a bit of 'research' I can read craft magazines or blogs, or have a knitting day. And ultimately, in some way shape or form, I get paid for this! This is amazing! I don't have to sit through boring meetings about budgets. I don't have to negotiate with difficult colleagues. I don't even have to ever get on a train ever again unless I want to. My office is Starbucks! No words can describe how amazing this feels!


To be honest, I became self-employed out of necessity. I could not see a way of negotiating childcare, commuting (to London) and full-time or part-time work. Neither could I find any jobs locally that paid anywhere near what we needed or that used my training and skills. I had my baby and once my maternity pay stopped I took the plunge. I knew that if I didn't do it then, I never would. I knew that if I didn't do it, I would have taken a part-time retail job and struggled to make ends meet.

And if you're doing that, or if you're working outside the home because that's what your job requires then I have the greatest respect for you. But I'm writing this for the other people who have always wanted to work for themselves, who have skills that could be used on a freelance basis (or would like to retrain so that they can work on a freelance basis), who wish that they could stay at home with their kids. If that's you, I encourage you, take the plunge. Make a go of it. You might be surprised at how quickly you can build up a client base.

And to put the record straight, the article suggests that self-employed women could be working long hours for paltry pay, that hasn't been my experience. I work when I want and I get paid a competitive rate, if you actually divided it up per hour, I would be on far more that I could ever dream to achieve working for someone else. Go for it!


  1. So very happy you have found this fabulous balance, well done you. Mich x

  2. I am really encouraged by this, not from a young motther's point of view but from someone with a disability where working regular hours is difficult. Thanks Emily x

  3. Good luck Sharon, once you get started there'll be no stopping you! X


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