What would you like your life to look like?

When I was pregnant with my daughter (my firstborn), I was working full-time as a copywriter. I enjoyed my job – especially the regular income – and planned to return a few months after giving birth. However, the HR department had other ideas.

I was told that I wouldn’t have a job to return to as my contract would terminate when I gave brith. This was a big blow, as it took the decision out of my hands. But if I was being honest with myself, I hadn’t been completely sure I’d want to return to commuting into an office and working 9-6pm Monday-Friday.

Once my daughter was born, it became clear that in order to get the balance right for me (and her), I’d need to work part-time and either from home or close to home. I didn’t want to do a long commute. But I definitely wanted/needed to work and earn my own money.

I focused on what I loved doing: writing. And started pitching freelance articles. I got a few commissions but decided to start building an online profile so I launched The Early Hour – basically, a glorified blog – and got to write whatever I liked. People started to read it.

In time, I was able to charge for sponsored posts. But also, publications I’d dreamed of writing for – the Guardian, Stylist, Red Magazine – started coming to me and asking me to write articles. Two years later, I got a book deal to write The Freelance Mum.

But while this was all amazing – and in-keeping with my dream of writing for a living – the pay was ad-hoc so I started running online courses for freelancers and entrepreneurs. As I could do this from home, working the hours that suit me and my family.

I was using my skills – writing, teaching, sharing my knowledge, social media – and creating an online business around them.

But I should say that I tried lots of different businesses and ways of making money before I found this one.

So if you try an online shop, or course or workshop and it doesn’t take off immediately – firstly, persevere. Growing a successful business does take time (and continued effort).

But if you really start to see that it’s not financially viable: you can stop. Reassess. Try something new. Maybe you could pivot your business into a slightly new area. Or try a reaching out to a different customer base.

Before you can plan your business, though, you need to think about how you’d like your life to look. Do you want to see your kids more? Or less? Work shorter days, less days or from the kitchen table rather than commuting?

Starting off with looking at the shape you’d like your weeks/months/years to take might help you to narrow down a framework for your new work-life.

You can then think about how you will fill those hours/days – what will pay you regularly, what time will you devote to the ad-hoc or ‘passion work’ that doesn’t necessarily pay (at first, anyway).

I’ve put together a set of questions to get you thinking about the ideal work life balance…