Freelancing. One year on.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

It is officially my 1 year of freelancing anniversary. Or roughly around this time. I can't remember an actual date which is pretty bad so I call it at some point in October.
A lot of people didn't realise I was working full time and doing the photography as a side hustle. I never really let on that more than a year ago I was working a 9-5 and side hustling as it was always my dream to be full time and my own boss. And here I am. A year later and succeeding and surviving! I basically want to talk about how I have found it and offer up some tips for anyone else wanting to do the same and taking the leap into full time photography.

I'm not going to lie. I was terrified. I got made redundant so HAD to jump in at the deep end to just go it alone and do it, but friends were telling me long before that to make it my career. After all it is what I was working towards and had been for many years of my life.
And the whole year since that point has been insane I won't lie... Part of me thinks I got REALLY lucky with the work I have done and achieved, but a lot of people who know me will say it is hard work and dedication.

So quickly let us just recap what I have done in a year: shot a magazine cover, shot regular magazine editorials for Blogosphere, travelled to Madrid & Benidorm & Canada, written articles all year long for Manfrotto, done various talks and presentations at blogger events, started a new wedding photography brand and worked with amazing new brands such as IceLolly, Trek America, David Clulow and Sunglass Hut. Oh yeah and I also photographed the Duchess of Cambridge which became a really popular photograph...

SO, number 1 top tip is to save money for tax from the get go. Don't think "oh this person has paid yay a payday let's go shopping". Go shopping after you have put 20% aside for tax. Even if it is on a £50 job or something. Always put 20% aside so you don't get stung and you are safe and have this safety net for your tax bill. My savings account is a mix of my tax money and my regular savings. Any job over £250 I chuck straight into my savings and I pay my bills and live off of any jobs under £250.

Expense within reason. Anything for my business is an expense. Food and drink when on a shoot is an expense, equipment is an expense, my phone bill is an expense because I use whatsapp with clients and social media through it, certain clothing items can be an expense for a photographer especially if you need formal clothing or branded clothing for photographing weddings or something. I also expense transportation and mileage from my car as well as the price of any workshops or talks I attend.

Some months will be quieter. Don't get disheartened. It is hard not too but not every month will be like my February which was INSANE. And then my July was dire lol cry cry cry gimme the bread and baked beans. As long as you make enough to pay your basic bills then all is OK. And some months will be drastically better so across the year it evens out. I'm gonna chat money later on though!

Use social media to your advantage. Don't be scared to advertise on social media. Yes we all want our feeds to be lighthearted and fun but sometimes you gotta push yourself and your services sometimes also! So don't be scared to pitch yourself more within 280 characters or on instagram stories! It's an effective tool to advertise after all.

Freelancer self doubt is still very much a thing I experience regularly. As well as the fear of when my next job will be or what I will book in, or if my inbox will become full. Quick insight into my life also, my inbox is never overflowing. I genuinely don't get a lot of emails and I don't know if that is a good or bad thing hahaha fml. I do book in a lot of work though through whatsapp and DMs which is weird but hey, it has worked for me! I also don't think the fear and any self doubts will go away even if my empire builds and builds.

DON'T FEEL GUILTY FOR ENJOYING TIME OFF. Feeling guilty for having days off that everyone is entitled to breeds toxic work relationships and awful working hours and a very unwell body. I work so damn much that when I finally have a day of rest I feel so unwell because my body isn't used to it and this is so unhealthy! I need to practice what I am preaching and I have started trying to implement a strict 9-5 working day (some days it isn't possible due to the nature of my work but it then means I will sleep in later or start working a bit later etc). If I work on a weekend then I will try and take a weekday off the next week or something. Anything I can do to give myself 2 days away from working really. I am yet to fully stick to it but that is my own fault as I like being busy, just please don't get to the point where you feel guilty for even going on holiday or something.

Keep a money spreadsheet! I use an accountant because I am too scared to do my taxes myself and so for her I keep a spreadsheet for my mileage, and a spreadsheet of my ingoings and outgoings. On there I list every invoice within a month and all my expenses for that month so it is super easy for her to understand and she only questions my big purchases and asks for copies of the receipt. This is also a super easy way for you to track your profit figure and not just a total income figure!
So my monthly spreadsheet has an ingoings column, an expenses column, and then a profit/loss column. I list my ingoings in one column and my expenses in another and a calculation works out my profit/loss. So far every month has been profitable thank god, but how much profit is dependant on how much I expense! My total income for this year alone has been £33,085.73. My profit has been £19,954.54 which means in just one year I have made approx £20k and it is this £20k I would get taxed on. (This figure doesn't include my expenses of mileage so actually it is all pretty approximate right now and also doesn't run in time with the tax year lol). My expenses have been £13,131,19 and not every year will have the same amount of expenses, especially because in my first year I did buy a LOT of new equipment at £2k+... so my second year of freelancing and expenses shouldn't be as high meaning my profit figure hopefully should be higher.
So yes if I had zero expenses which is kinda impossible then I would have made £33k in my first year which is just insane to think about and shows that you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it and have passion and dedication! I worked for so long with photography as my side hustle trying to build up a client base that I probably didn't realise my full potential and I am so lucky I have done now and hopefully I will just keep on growing it year after year. There are so many passive income routes I need to look into also such as selling my travel photos on stock websites and an ebook, but currently I have had zero time. I have been lucky that my first year has been non stop busy and I truly think social media has been a great tool in that. But also not every month is exactly the same and it never will be. My February was an income of £5.5k... whereas my July was just £1,200 which became a profit of £900 after expenses. So whilst some months can be harsher, if you are wise with that £5.5k month then you won't need to worry too much about a shitty month because it will even out.

I am genuinely so proud of where I am right now and never could have imagined that in my first year of being my boss that I would have ticked off a lot of dreams I had. I guess 2019 has to be the year of more travelling for work as well as trying to get a second magazine cover under my belt!

1 comment

  1. Congrats Kaye! Super proud. It’s about my 1 year freelance anniversary too actually! X


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