Guest: Daniel Sweeney, Totalbrand. 3

Posted by in guest blogs, professional practice

When Things Go Pete Tong

Recently I just couldn’t get a break. Every lead I had went cold, current projects were in turmoil and I found myself asking what on earth I was doing with my life. Dark times indeed.

Thankfully I have a short attention span when it comes to personal angst, but things can of course go awry and being self-employed means there isn’t the same support structure to get you through the fog. Here are a few solutions that have helped me in the past.

1) Switch Off – Staring at your empty inbox, vacant word doc or out-of-focus photoshoot for hours on end isn’t going to help matters. In fact, you’re going to start feeling worse very quickly. So, switch off, get out and breathe in some fresh air – it’s good for you (depending on where you live). The chances are, with some time away, you’ll think up a great new plan to get your project /prospects / life back on target.

2) Remember why you’re doing this – It can be hard at times to remember you DO control how many hours you work or who you work for or that your neighbour can’t stand working ‘for the man’. You are in control and if it doesn’t feel like it then maybe it’s time to make some changes. I once made the decision to let a troublesome client go at the expense of good income. It was money well spent in my opinion – balance returned instantly.

3) You are not alone! Being self employed needn’t mean you go it alone. Building a trusted network of friends, colleagues and gurus that you can lean on when times are tough will prove invaluable. There are 7 billion people out there so it shouldn’t be difficult finding a few you can depend upon.

4) Think BIG – working for yourself doesn’t mean you only need to earn one person’s salary. If you think small, then the chances are you’ll stay small. Growing your support network and pursuing bigger and better clients or projects will also grow your bottom line. Instead of thinking as a ‘one man band’, portraying yourself as a ‘small business’ can take things up a notch. There’s no one stopping you taking that extra step of contracting or taking on staff, so what are you waiting for?

In the final part of Daniel’s first series of posts, he will describe what happens after you land your dream commission: it’s not always plain sailing!

Daniel Sweeney is a graphic designer / photographer from Scotland, currently based in Banff, Canada. He has been self employed since 2007 providing design and marketing at Totalbrand. He also runs the Escape Images travel photography blog.