This dress has been hanging in my closet, waiting for my to be able to wear it without a belly. As luck would have it I came across the dress in H&M in Amagertorv a few months after the launch of the Conscious collection last year. I’d been crazy about it when it landed online but not quick enough to snatch it up. And suddenly it was hanging there on a rack, all alone and abandoned – and additionally with the sort of timing that I had one of those Club discounts on my H&M app, which gave me a 25% discount. It was one of those days when I considered buying a Lotto ticket. Instead, I went out and drank an iced coffee with Alone and my round belly.
But now it came out to float around in the air, just as wonderful and flattering as I’d imagined. The finest, feminine silk dress. And with sneakers, also totally everyday perfect.
I’ve now been self-employed for two years! In January 2017, I was crying and crying in anger and disappointment down by the canal close to DR, after having been told that our programme was being shut down – and that I was to be placed on a different channel than P3.
Gosh, I was disappointed and really upset. Back then, I felt that I’d given so incredibly much to that channel for several years. I’d filled up every gap in the transmission plan, taken morning shifts, built up programmes, subbed. Covered all holidays, been there over Christmas. And just as I felt that I’d finally reached a place in my radio career where I belonged and wasn’t just there until they discovered I wasn’t good at anything (classic imposter syndrome), I was sent away.
Rather than accepting the reorg, I picked up the courage to quit. For the first time in eight years, I was going to try doing just one thing. Not just studying, working in retail, being a radio host, blogging, which I did when I was doing it all. Just blog. Self-employed.
But can you make a living doing that? I knew that some could, but did that apply to me as well? Is there enough interest in my blog?
It’s doable. For me. And you know what, it’s just going so well! So well that my financial advisor said to me, conservative type (her, that is) that it seemed I was doing what was right for me. ‘Your 2018 was really, really good, huh?‘
Yes, it was. Businesswise, earning-wise, but most importantly; partnership-wise. ALL of my partnerships were awesome, through and through. There was no, ‘shit, I need to make some money; I’ll have to say yes.’ I say no to incredibly many things – or Barbara does, together with me. We know exactly what’s good and what isn’t good for me. And that’s cool! I’m privileged enough to be able to say no as well as yes. That hasn’t always been the case. Back in the day, I definitely also said yes to things because that’s what was offered. And I’ve obviously made the most of it – I’ve always done my best. But it’s lovely to have clients in my shop, whom I’m super proud of and happy with. Who choose me – and whom I choose.
I’m really proud of what I’ve established – with your help, of course. And I’m so glad that I’ve managed to shake the shame when people ask what I do.
‘I’m a blogger’
‘Oh! Is that sustainable?’
‘Yes, it sure is – very much so, actually!’
Helle wrote this the other day:
…. Since having kids, I’ve experienced that my place in the work sphere hierarchy has changed. Especially, I’ve experienced female bosses criticising my priorities between the lines, strongly insinuating that you don’t have the same worth professionally if you also want to be there for your kids when they are little. It makes me so sad, and I don’t feel like there’s a space for me even though I’m crazy about working (…) The idea of a self-employed life is tempting.
First and foremost, I’d LOVE it if we had a society in which young families were able to flex their time. That we’d created a society in which the older part of the population were enabled to carry more if they wanted so that for instance young families could work less and take care of their kids – without being penalised. They say that the initial 1000 days of a child’s life are fundamental to which kind of person they will become. I actually also often hear that women who return to work from maternity leave have become incredibly efficient – when you are used to juggling coffee drinking, shower, peeing and a crying baby, you start working at another level. Also even if you leave a little earlier or at least don’t stay longer. The efficiency of your time is off the hook.
It genuinely upsets me to hear that she doesn’t feel appreciated as a workforce. It’s one of the most draining feelings – for your energy levels, creativity and self-esteem.
Also, I understand Helle’s fantasy of becoming self-employed. I haven’t regretted it as much as once.
I must say that there’s something extremely satisfying about creating your own workplace, making your own rules, running to your own beat. No doubt that’s what made me dare going ahead with fertility treatment – no bosses to disapprove. No anxiety of being ‘caught’ in wanting to have babies. That’s really how it was at my old work – so many of us freelancers were longing for permanent employment, which was aaaalmost within reach. And then not at all. In the tough competition, you didn’t dare risking to dream of having kids.
Back when I was in a work limbo and had to make up my mind on whether to go solo, I made a list of pros and cons. It’s one of my favourite tools in life – being the indecisive type! Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration:
- I get to choose my work times and places. I can take my work with me, and if Adam wants to be succumbed somewhere, I can tag along without problem. Whether I take full advantage of it? Probably not – but it’s a HUGE feeling of freedom in being able to be anywhere in the world; not being tied to a specific address.
- I can go on holiday ‘off season’ and thereby save money (right until we have school kids, at least).
- I can be flexible around our kids in their first years – pick up early, take a day off.
- My time and energy are spent on creating my own thing rather than working for other’s business – I’ve talked quite a lot with my dad about that, who’s spent most of his life working overtime as a manager and director. What if he’d put all of this effort into his own thing? Perhaps the gain had been even bigger?
- There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that every penny I earn – I created that myself. Every day, people choose me – and it feels GOOD.
- My day-to-day is ever-changing with new exciting challenges and assignments.
- It’s really good for my confidence when things to well. I’ve super proud of what I do and how I do it.
- I define the level myself – obviously the amount of work, but also the execution. I can geek out as much as I want without being irritated about time spent – it’s time and effort invested in myself. And my level is high! I put an honour in what I do – hence being proud.
- I’m paid to do exactly what I want. And when I don’t want to do it anymore, I can find something else to do or tweak and structure everything to make it exciting again.
- I’m never truly off – work is at the back of my mind during weekends and holidays. I also always have my computer with me, and my phone is almost glued to my hand.
- Speaking of, I really need to be conscious of my phone time so I don’t end up being on all of the time.
- It takes self-discipline not to spend the days hanging out – and even more administratively, keeping track of documents etc.
- Nothing gets done when I’m sick. And when I’m off on holiday, I need to make sure to have saved up beforehand. Maternity leave isn’t the easiest thing either.
- I need to be my own HR department, career counsellor, finance department, tech department, boss and colleague. It can be tiring and hard – and at times I miss to have someone to bounce off ideas with – is this feasible?
To me, the list of pros is definitely longer. But a big minus on the cons list is definitely never being off. Mentally, at least – you always think of the next idea, the bill that hasn’t been paid etc. You have to be able to deal with that (it’s not that bad when what you do is actually wonderful).
Sometimes I think that it would be a gift to be 100 % on maternity leave for a year, like so many others are doing. But I also LOVE what it does to our family that we both are at home (read about our way of doing parental leave HERE). Also even though I’m working – I mostly only do so when he’s asleep. I still take Eddie swimming, breastfeed fully, cuddle and kiss and carry him a lot.
Are you taking the self-employed route?
I believe that if you have a good idea, a decent amount of energy in your system and furthermore are good at what you’re doing – you’ll survive. Smart people are always wanted! And perhaps more than that – perhaps you’ll end up building up something which can make life really fun.
Experiences and lessons learned:
- KEEP FIXED EXPENSES AT A LOW LEVEL. Some months I’ll send a bill of DKK 7,000 plus VAT – this requires some air in your finances (and the ability to save up).
- INSOFAR AS IT’s POSSIBLE, TRANSFER THE SAME MONTLY AMOUNT TO YOURSELF, ALWAYS. It can be pretty tempting to give yourself a huge bonus after a good month, but try sticking with the same living costs every month. That saves something for the rainy months.
- PAY YOUR WAY OUT OF THINGS YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT. I’ve talked about it HERE and HERE – I pay my way out of everything to do with tech/coding, OOTD, accounting (a clever bookkeeper is important – most of us don’t really need an accountant (they are more expensive)). I’ve got more than enough to do just with keeping track of documents. As self-employed, your time is valuable, now that you’re responsible for finances, HR, etc. Hire help to avoid drowning.
- MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR NETWORK! There are incredibly many Facebook groups for every single field. Lots of unions have special groups with potentially relevant events as well. I’ve been a member of DJ for many years, and I learn much from reading posts in our group on FB for bloggers.
We easily spend 50 years working – I got my first job as a 10-year-old, as a church choir singer. My monthly salary was around DKK 400, and I was SO proud every time the money rolled into my account.
According to various pension checks, I’ll be working until I’m at least 74.5 years of age. Just imagine … If I didn’t dare taking a chance at least once in all of those years – there are quite a lot of years to ‘redeem’ if it doesn’t work out. Everything will be all right.