Meet three inspiring women

Now, I’d like to introduce three women you may have come across before – an author and podcaster, an entrepreneur, and a freelancer who runs a freelance parenting community on social media. They are now in a position to reflect on the start of their journey and offer some advice for feeling confident, as you make this change…

Meet Elizabeth Day, author of How to Fail and podcast host

Part of success is failure and Elizabeth Day writes – and speaks – so well about this. For her podcast: How to fail with Elizabeth Day – she’s interviewed the likes of actress Vicky McClure, Lily Allen and Tracey Thorn. She has shared four tips for starting out, as a freelancer…

  1. For women who have been socially conditioned to feel self-doubt, believing in yourself can be a revolutionary act. My greatest tip for going freelance is to cultivate the faith in yourself you want others to have in you – because once you start valuing yourself highly, others will too.
  2. Put in the necessary safety measures (save up for a financial cushion that can get you through a month) and then take a leap into the unknown, which is where the greatest opportunities always reside.
  3. If you’re fearful of not being able to do something, chances are you should probably do it. (This does not apply to physically impossible feats such as flying).
  4. Set your boundaries, claim your fee, and say no when people do not respect them.

Meet Steph Douglas: founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers 

Steph came up with the idea for her business after having her first baby. She was given loads of bunches of flowers and thought: I don’t need yet another thing to look after. She returned to her job after maternity leave and continued thinking about what it is that new mums really want/need. Before launching her gift package business, she started a blog. She wanted to build a community and make sure there was a market for this. Her blog took off, she found her target audience and a couple of years later, Don’t Buy Her Flowers was born. Here are her tips for confidence, when staring out…

1) There’s a lot you can do before you quit your job, that will help you to hit the ground running but also make that leap feel less massive, and all while you’re still taking a salary. Get your business plan written. Whilst you’re still working, you can build your network – attending relevant events, connecting with businesses and people on social media, writing about something that shows you understand your customers and product or service. It all helps on how people view you but also in improving your confidence in your subject and being able to explain what you’re doing succinctly.

2) Start small. Don’t think you have to launch with a completely finished product. In fact, you want to have somewhere to take it and once you’re live, you’ll get real feedback from customers and be able to hone your business to incorporate that. This also means your starting cost should be lower, which makes it less terrifying.

3) Know that the first couple of years are unsettling – there is so much to do, it’s going to be hard work, and if anything goes wrong – which it inevitably will – it can really knock your confidence because you can feel very exposed, like people are waiting for your to mess it up (which they’re not). Just knowing that rollercoaster is part of the journey will help. I had no idea and had been so focused on the physical side of running a business, the mental/emotional part of it took it’s toll until I realised that you have to work out how to keep your head together and what success is to you. That also means don’t compare yourself to other businesses. I rarely look at what anyone else is doing now, because there’s nothing you can do to change what other people are doing, so use that time and energy to push yourself forward instead. It’s an amazing feeling when you get through that first phase and realise how much you’ve learned, how much more skilled you are and how you are more steady with handling the good and the bad.

Meet Frankie Tortora, freelance graphic designer and founder of Doing it for the Kids Facebook community (@doingitforthekids)

Frankie at one of her ‘Doing it for the Kids’ events

One of the things I admire about Frankie, in terms of freelancing, is how honest she is about the challenges. It’s not all lounging in PJs and drinking tea (especially not when you have kids) and she doesn’t pretend it is. So here, she’s shared three tips for building your confidence as you make this career change that combine the reality and optimism…

1. Be realistic. Be prepared.

The glorification of freelance life is rife, particularly when it comes to working for yourself as a mother. While stock photographs of women working on their laptops, in tidy houses, next to quietly sleeping babies will tell you one thing, the reality can often be quite different.

Make sure you do your research and prepare yourself for what day-to-day life might look like, for you. Knowledge really is power here. The more prepared you are for the realities of self-employed life, the more confident you will feel to a) take the leap in the first place, and b) succeed in the long term.

Arm yourself with as much information as possible and manage your own expectations from the off. Read all the stuff. Ask all the questions. Talk to other freelancers already doing it. Put the groundwork in now — it will pay dividends.

2. Ignore great-aunt Maude.

When you decide to go freelance and start telling the world about it, you may be subject to some pretty mixed responses. Some people may be hesitant at best, while great-aunt Maude might spit out her tea and outright tell you that you’re making the wrong decision.

Reactions can (inevitably) be more extreme when there are kids in the mix too — there are real responsibilities; mouths to feed, bills to pay. And while I don’t advocate blindly ignoring genuinely constructive advice, I would encourage you not to let the throw-away comments over Sunday lunch get you down.

Only you know how much time, energy and work has already gone into making that decision in the first place.

Have faith in your choices. Stay in your lane.

3. You don’t need to know all the things.

Starting out on your own can be intimidating. If you’re not careful, imposter syndrome can run riot with your confidence and, before you know it, you’ve miraculously talked yourself out of even getting going in the first place.

>From the outside, it’s easy to feel like every other freelancer is hugely successful, has their shit together and knows exactly what they’re doing.

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret — they don’t.

Working for yourself is a never-ending learning curve so on some level — and across all stages of our freelance careers — we’re all making it up. So try to let go of the fact that you ‘need’ to have done that course, or read that book, or have those skills before you can take the leap. Just do it. You don’t need to know all the things.*

*Unless you’re a freelance brain surgeon. In which case, maybe worth investing in that course, and that book, and those skills…