I feel like it’s been a little while since I wrote a personal business update here. So much has been going on and I wish I’d had more time to sit down and write everything out.
The biggest news is that last month I handed in my notice at my part time job. I’m taking my business full time! This is something I’m SO excited about and, although the timing wasn’t planned, it just felt like the right time to take that step and leap into it.
I’d been with my old company for eight years, joining as an admin apprentice before moving into the marketing team. After having my second child I returned part time, about a year ago, and I realized that that’s the kind of balance that I needed. I wanted to be at home more, to be able to take the kids to the park during the day, and to pop into town mid-week when it’s less busy. Working part time gives you that opportunity and I knew that working ‘full time’ would never be my thing again… unless it was working on my own business.
While I was off work during that second maternity leave, I began spending more time on my lifestyle blog. It didn’t make a steady income, more a few £50s here and there, but it gave me a taste of working for myself and being self employed and I loved it. Sure, it was annoying when agencies didn’t pay and staying creative and motivated was hard at times, but it was something I enjoyed so it never really felt like ‘work’.
Writing consistently, taking photos, managing my social media – they were all great practice and experience for the future. I picked up a few more skills that were valuable too – writing and optimizing content and pages for search engine traffic (SEO) being the main one, as well as how to use Pinterest to grow traffic to my blog. I figured other bloggers might be interested in these topics too, so started helping out where I could within groups and writing blog posts or guides on SEO and Pinterest. From this I learned two things – that people were looking for this kind of information and that I enjoyed the process of testing, writing about and sharing what I’d learned with others.
Throughout 2017 I continued to work part time, write for my lifestyle blog and I picked up a few freelance marketing projects too. These were mostly working with fellow bloggers, supporting their SEO needs or helping them set up or revive their Pinterest presence. It meant I had less time to blog myself but I found the work I was doing so rewarding. I love working with great people and spending my time doing things that will help their blog get more exposure, because further down the line that could have a positive impact on whether a potential client finds their blog through a certain post, or their ability to negotiate for a higher fee with an agency based on their monthly traffic. I may not be saving lives or making a huge impact on the world, but on a smaller scale doing something that’s valuable to somebody is so rewarding and inspiring – something that I think is hard to find if you’re working within a team at a larger organisation.
As the year came to an end, I started to think about what I wanted my future to look like. I’d considered a few different options. Did I want to focus on my career and work my way up to become a marketing director somewhere? Did I want to change careers? Become a full time blogger? Stay where I was and focus on another area of my life?
None of these options felt quite right, so I went with the one that did and in January 2018 I made a promise to myself that this year I would stop dabbling and focus on making my business a success.
My plan was to make progress so that I could leave my part time job around August, ahead of my oldest starting school in September. I knew I wanted to be around to do the school run, to get to know other parents and to help him with the transition from nursery to school… and I couldn’t do that easily while working part time and running a business. One of them had to go, and I knew I couldn’t give up my business.
In the first few months of this year everything just clicked and came together. I’m not one for getting all ‘woo’ but I do think that being focused and having a goal in mind motivates you to take the actions that matter. I was in the right place at the right time, and secured a few marketing projects which have been amazing to be part of. I’ve worked with more bloggers and refined my offering to a package that provides better value and insight. I’ve given myself permission to spend less time on my lifestyle blog and to not worry about it. I’ve become braver and started believing in myself more. These things have all helped me to make progress faster than I’d imagined.
Another thing that helped me stay on track was getting organised and having visibility over my business – especially the financial side. Every month I add my income and expenses into my client management software and pull off reports showing me what I’ve earned and how it’s split (e.g. from my blog, from marketing projects, from SEO) as well as what my expenses were and where I’m spending the most money (in my case it’s on software!). I can also see which projects I have booked in and a projected income figure from them, which acts as a great motivator – if I don’t have much lined up I know I need to start seeking out people who are looking for the kind of support I offer. With a business that’s almost entirely digital, without this kind of oversight it could easily become more of a hobby than a true, profitable business.
As I was running my reports for April, I noticed a few things. Firstly that the first few months of this year had been profitable (hooray!) and that spending more time on running my business, marketing and serving my clients was the right decision to make. I knew that replacing the income from my part time job was possible and that I didn’t need more than a handful of clients to achieve that. With such a massive number of businesses out there securing a tiny % of those became achievable. This mindset shift was motivating and changed my approach to what I do. Yes, it’s a business, but I don’t need to work with 100s of clients a year for it to be profitable. It helped that my idea of success and profitability was simple – to cover my personal expenses and have a similar amount of freedom as working part time. That’s infinitely more possible than setting a goal of making £100k a year or something wildly optimistic.
At this point I knew that realistically the only way I could give my business the level of attention it needed to be successful I needed to quit my job. It became a reality and not a goal.
I sat down one evening in April and decided to spend more time looking at the financial side of my business. I interrogated what I’d earned so far, how much of it I’d spent on day to day living, and how much I had left in the bank. Combining this with my projected income, I quickly realised that I could sustain my business and cover my expenses for 4-6 months if I didn’t spend out on frivolous purchases and kept it simple.
That realisation was everything.
We discussed it as a family and while quitting my job was a risk, it was manageable. I was willing to put in the hours to make my business a success, and if it didn’t work I’d find a job – even if it wasn’t in marketing or a field I loved. I was so glad at this point that we do live relatively simply. There are a few DIY projects that may have to be pushed back but we don’t have a car on finance, expensive hobbies, holidays, or huge financial commitments. I have driving lessons to finance and hopefully I’ll pass my test soon, but I’m okay with not buying a car for a few months or a year.
After discussing the practical side of things and agreeing it would work, I wrote up my notice and handed it in the next day. I was SO nervous about this even though I was excited and knew it was the right thing, because I don’t like letting people down and I’ll miss the people I worked with. The final four weeks went by so quickly.
Tomorrow’s my first day of not going into the office. My first day running my business ‘full time’. I’m SO incredibly excited about it and looking forward to creating something that achieves results for my clients and gives me the kind of life I love. I’ll keep you all updated on how it goes!