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Why I took a 3-week holiday in my first year of freelancing

Sounds mad, right?

A road trip around Europe. In a Ford Fiesta and a blow-up tent.

With one of my best friends and her dog, Maximus. Who we quickly discovered had multiple personalities, all of whom barked at everything!

Don’t worry, I was fully aware spending 3 weeks away from my new business was utter madness. I endured many panic attacks of ‘What the hell am I doing?’. But you know what, life is short. Too short. One of the reasons I started freelancing was to create a better work/life balance and I intend to fulfil that mission.

So, how did I manage to head off on this bucket-list adventure before my business hit its first birthday? Let me share a little more about the madness behind the trip.

“Let’s go on a road trip around Europe!”

We can either blame or thank Covid for this one. During the second or third lockdown, maybe the fourth – I forget how many there were now. It really was a messy year, wasn’t it? Anyway, my friend, Lindsey and I were ready to get away…somewhere, anywhere!

We’ve both worked two jobs for as long as we can remember and although there’s no place like home, even we were bored of the monotony of Northampton. So, what big adventure could we do on a pretty tight budget? The answer was on our doorstep…literally.

Lindsey’s Ford Fiesta is a great little run-around and big enough to fit a tent, bags, a dog, two humans and a whole lot of wine. As independent women with great common sense (before the wine), we knew we could easily hop between seven countries – visiting those off-the-grid spots and discovering a bit more of the world with no problems.

Just like that, it was set. In 2023, 2 years on from Covid (we needed time to save up), we would travel around Europe. Bucket list ticked!

The unexpected diversion

Within the next 2 years, we were both made

redundant and found ourselves in new jobs. Lindsey became the Operational Manager of our local sports club, and I started as a Project Manager for a Creative Agency. But our plan had not rerouted; we had a year to get settled in before submitting our holiday requests.

For me, however, I wasn’t really enjoying my role and the thought of freelancing kept niggling away at the back of my mind. This was the time in my life to give it a go. I started my side hustle: mostly blog articles and product descriptions which I could fit into my evenings. By the time I’d completed a year, I was ready to fully jump in and set up as a Sole Trader. In my head, starting my own business meant I could still complete our road trip and work along the way.

Hello, digital nomad life!

Setting my business foundations

Ok, I wasn’t at all ready for freelance life. To be honest, I’m still figuring a lot of it out. Thankfully, I met James Warren from Made In Blue – a professional photographer working through the freelance world too. With some reassuring words and encouragement, he told me about networking to broaden my exposure (I had one client at this time), and invited me along to a BNI meeting.

Now, don’t jump to the same reaction as everyone else when they hear ‘BNI’. Yes, BNI is a networking group. No, it’s not a cult. Yes, it’s bloody brilliant. Well, it has been for me. After just two meetings (and two gluten-free fry-ups), I had the confidence to pursue my dream. If that isn’t a positive experience, then what is?

I joined BNI in August 2022 which gave me 8 months to secure clients, book regular work and have enough money to put towards my trip whilst still paying my bills. I regularly met with my BNI team, discussing both mine and their businesses and consistently being on the lookout for potential opportunities. That’s the great part of networking; you’re not only pushing your own business but you get the buzz of helping others with theirs.

By April 2023, I was in a position where I could switch off my laptop and open my road map (aka Google Maps).

Creating great relationships

Early on, and even in my previous roles, I knew the

importance of building a trusted relationship with your colleagues and clients. Realistically, the only way I could even consider taking a break is with my client’s consent. Now, I don’t mean submitting a holiday request, but only a strong working relationship would leave us both feeling reassured their monthly content requirements would still be met.

By showing up from the start as professional, reliable and trustworthy, I’ve built great relationships with my clients. With over a month’s forewarning, I was able to deliver two months’ worth of work before leaving. Although I still checked in whilst I was away, I didn’t have to set aside ‘working hours’. On my return, I simply caught up with everyone and began prepping their content for the following month. It was like I never left!

Why I’d do it all again!

Firstly, it was an incredible trip with beautiful beaches, glistening lakes and waterfalls, momentous mountains, and delicious vineyards. We saw so many places and barely touched the surface. As we left one town, I was mentally planning my return. Secondly, working within a creative industry, it’s so important to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and be inspired by new experiences and stories – all of which I can’t wait to share with you.

Keep your eyes peeled!

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