Self-employed journey

Self-employment: Getting past that difficult first year

If you planned well and took a realistic approach to being self-employed, there’s a good chance your first year went well. And contrary to popular belief, research shows most small business to make it beyond the first year.

It is, however, at this time than many freelancers, contractors and small business owners experience something of a dip. Whether it’s in the amount of work you’re pulling in, how much you’re charging as your day rate, or just your overall enjoyment of being self-employed, it’s a period that isn’t always easy to get through.

So what can you do to get back to enjoying your self-employed freedom?


During your first year, you’ve probably built up a small selection of regular clients. Most likely, these will have been gained through contacts you made while being in full-time employment – friends, previous colleagues, agencies you worked with, etc. While this is great in the short term, it’s easy to suddenly find yourself getting bogged down doing the same thing.

If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to do something about it. And that thing is to DIVERSIFY.

Be confident in your abilities. You’ve done an amazing job so far, so why not offer your services to other clients? Don’t restrict yourself to what you’re most comfortable doing.

If you’re a writer who specialises in travel journalism, for example, why not look to offer your services to travel companies in a marketing capacity?

If you know how create copy that’s interesting and engaging, there’s a good chance many travel companies will value your experience when it comes to writing copy for their website.


Networking events are often seen as a way to get new clients. Personally, I’ve never found it so. Of course, you may get lucky and bump into someone who wants your services, but the true value in networking is very different. It’s a way to meet like-minded people.

Use networking events to find out what others in your industry are doing. How do they find new clients? How do they approach setting their rates? How do they deal with those troublesome clients?

When you’re self-employed, one of the biggest challenges is the feeling of being alone. Networking is a great way to overcome this. Best of all, there’s no shortage of events. Eventbrite is a good place to find local events – here’s its list of London networking events.