Building your own business as a freelancer can seem like a very daunting idea. There’s likely to be loads of competition from other freelancers, as well as big name companies, and with the added worry of no financial security, its a decision many individuals only ever ploy with.
A brave few dabble into the world of being their own boss in hours outside of their nine to five, but do they take the plunge into freelancing full time? Not often.
Many industries are hard to crack, especially those in creative fields, but this wasn’t enough to put off photographer, and recently-turned full time freelancer, Nisha Haq.
“I was interested in photography from a young age and was 13 when I got my first digital camera,” says Nisha. “I enjoyed the social aspect the camera offered and that really influenced me. I felt people came together for a photo and I wanted that moment to be captured.
“I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a portrait photographer.
“I did work experience at a local family photography studio when I was 15, started volunteering my skills working as a photographer’s assistant with Somerset Art Works at college and took any opportunity to do photo shoots with friends to practise directing poses, composition and lighting.”
It wasn’t however until Nisha had finished her BA Photography degree at Southampton Solent University in 2014, and received an enterprise start-up grant, that she felt making a career out of photography was possible.
BUILDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Even with all the skills needed for your chosen profession in the bag, freelancing is so much more. It also requires being able to build and manage your own business.
Nisha’s first taste at building a business came at university, when she founded a social enterprise for her course with two friends – a photography magazine that raised money for the end of year degree show.
“I loved developing the brand, pitching for investment, marketing, designing the magazine and blog and managing the project – it was all very exciting! Having no previous business skills, it was a great test to see what I was capable of.”
After developing her brand, reworking her business plan, doing market research and refining her technical skills, in June 2015 Nisha felt ready to launch her business, Nisha Haq Photography. Despite feeling ready, she believed a steady growth approach was the best way to get her business off the ground, and continued to work in various design and marketing roles full-time at the same time.
“I was able to learn interpersonal, organisational and communication skills without the pressures of being self-sufficient and could reinvest any money I received from freelancing back into my business. I was also able to better manage my cash flow, build new relationships and gain clients from my colleagues, which expanded my network.
“It was a difficult juggling two jobs, but it was my determination and my support network that helped get me through it.
“Many people think that freelancing isn’t a proper job and that taking photos is easy, but managing my business is the hardest part of what I do.”
GOING IT ALONE
Jumping from freelancing in your spare time to making it your full time career (and therefore your main source of income) involves putting all of your eggs into one basket. And while the idea of using that basket – and filling it with all of your hopes and dreams (and savings) – may be exciting prospect, and one which you can’t wait get started with, it has to be strong enough to take on any bumps in the road it may face.
“I went full-time freelance in July 2017; I knew I was passionate about it and that it would make me happy. The thought of going through life spending most of my week working a job I didn’t enjoy didn’t seem right to me.
“It was nerve-wracking, as I had publically stated my intentions with my business, but I’ve always been vocal about the benefits of working for yourself.
“I think the main things I’ve done to enable my business to grow have been networking and online marketing; talking to people, seeing what services I can offer and getting my name out there online through my website, blogging, directories and social media.”
IS FREELANCING WORTH IT?
Despite being a decision that’s likely to bring you both unimaginable highs and self doubting lows, freelancing can most definitely be worth it. And this is true for Nisha.
“I won the IPSE UK Freelancer of the Year Aspire Award in June 2017 which recognises the up and coming talent amongst the youngest, most ambitious freelancers.
“It was such an honour to be recognised nationally and has by far been my proudest moment.
“At first it was daunting and the risks were high – they still are – but I’ve learned to have a positive outlook on life and that I can make my business a success.”