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Daisybutter - Hong Kong Lifestyle and Fashion Blog: being self-employed, how to freelance successfully, freelance writer tips

Not the blogging sort. And I included downloadables.
Today I thought I’d go for the big guns and tackle a subject that I have a love-hate relationship with. Freelancing. Rather than sugarcoat the topic, I thought I’d cover everything from my experience to the realities, the highlights and then some tips and downloadables.

Me, The Freelancer
I fell into freelancing by accident and on purpose. In my final year of University, we studied a whole module about freelancing in fashion and all of the potential pathways that were available to us. The module pretty much came to exist as a result of the whole no-jobs-for-graduates and no-magazines-for-journo-grads thing.

I began to freelance in copywriting, social media consultancy (planning and executing strategies for BAU and campaign work) and editorial both in-house and remotely, meaning I could place my other focuses on Aesthetic and building something else up. I have been both self-employed as a sole trader and dabbled in going with an umbrella company. In January 2014, I decided to put freelancing on the backburner and head to a pretty big company full-time, then in November 2014, I moved to a full-time position in Hong Kong, but my little business is still around.

The Boring Bits
Some top tips from my own freelance experience:
  1. Know your worth. You’re your own boss, employee, price list and more. Within my own work, I created editorial copy, advertising copy, planned social media strategies and executed projects, worked alongside up to 5 other teams to support their work, heck, I used to design magazine spreads and cover media events, run 8 social media platforms and more in one day! Take some time to add monetary value to these and work out your fees and pricing whether for day rates, project work or for client requirements. You're a pretty big deal if you're a one-man band.
  2. Accounts. I learnt to do my accounting at University – also where I set my company up – so it is almost second nature to me. Almost. HMRC isn’t as scary as you’d think. Keep your invoices (for money you’re earning) and keep your expenses receipts (travel if applicable, software, gadgets, stationery, etc.). Create a balance sheet and fill it in weekly and be deadly serious about it. After about a month, you’ll be able to see where your money is used work-wise and you can even use this to tweak your fees. This will also be your ticket to #THEGOODLIFE when tax return time rolls round.
  3. Get strict with yourself. The beauty in freelancing is that you work as you wish. I used my mornings to exercise and run errands or research, took lunch outside of my house, and then I’d be at my desk for 1.30pm to start work. Of course this is dependent on your client requirements, but remember to be strict and make sure you’re being productive with your days. Make a daily and weekly schedule and stick to it.
My Highlights
  1. Learning your own path. Another odd airy-fairy number from me, but being my own boss meant I could learn, carve and enhance my own path. Each day I’d be able to work out good and bad in how I worked towards a project and this would help my next project for another client. I learnt the skillset that suited me best and also worked out what I wasn't so great at.
  2. Me-time. When work time is also me-time, then things are good. I find I’m most productive when left to my own devices and even more so when work isn’t a rigid 9-5 thing. Sometimes I’d work from 2pm to 2am but it was still all good in the hood!
  3. Diversifying the skillset. Another kinda odd thing to pick out, but in freelancing, I completely diversified my skillset. Not only would I be providing services, I could now manage my accounts, organise days by campaign, provide innate research for multiple projects, my time management increased positively.

  • Put your all into it. You have to be completely dedicated if you want to go it alone.
  • Save like a crazy person before you make the leap. Freelancing is fairly uncertain to begin with.
  • Be super strict about your balance sheets.
  • Make sure you network and band together with like-minded freelancers.
By the way, my email – much like love – is an open door, so please feel free to drop me a line if you want!


  1. I really love this post, Michelle - as a self-employed person (but in a totally different field), I nodded along to a lot of this in agreement. I love being self-employed, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies as many seem to think... not quite as simple as just having a flexible schedule! i think it can be amazing for someone who suits the lifestyle, but you need a lot of discipline and dedication. x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

  2. This is interesting! I haven't got any plans to do anything like this but I know when it comes to it I will be a mess at keeping accounts and balance sheets...

  3. thank you so much for this post. i'm sort of freelance myself in different (lower) league and i'm still clueless eventhough it's my fifth year in the game. lots of things to learn from this post so thanks again! and downloadables urgh. so helpful. thank you, sweetie!


  4. Going freelancing is such a daring move! I've always respected freelancers as the thought of going freelancing seems really intimidating... Gah, I don't know if I'll ever get the courage to freelance. Huge props to you, Michelle!

    Connie from theconbonz

  5. Loved hearing about your experience and your tips! I'm shocking at my accounting :/

    Sarah | More Than Adored

  6. Thank you for this post Michelle! Great to hear from someone who has been through starting a business and freelancing. Planning to freelance after uni this year and it's great hearing your experience!
    Tiffany C x

  7. I found this post really interesting. Freelance isn't something I would delve in really but it was nice to read your tips about it all! :-)

  8. This was lovely Michelle and lately I've been thinking of freelancing especially since I'm going to be finishing fashion school at the end of the month. I'm def going to download some of these.

  9. I have so much respect for freelancers who work their butts off! it's definitely not easy! xx

  10. these are great! I'm at the 2nd tip right about now - saving like a crazy person (but failing miserably too, I think) haha. thanks Michelle x

  11. Thanks Miho! It's definitely not for everybody, I absolutely loved my time freelancing and am hoping to be able to get back into it once I'm done adventuring here in Hong Kong (if I ever decide to!)

  12. Thanks Jane! Aw I can imagine you being an expert in keeping yourself organised if it came down to it.

  13. It was pretty intimidating and kinda tough to explain to friends and family who just didn't understand the industry that I work in. But they warmed up to it a lot and now wonder why I've decided to dabble in full-time employment again!

  14. Thanks Sarah! I found it much easier to keep up once I'd made myself a simple balance sheet, formulas and all ;) you can download my template if you fancy!

  15. Thanks Leanne!! (PS. Yay, you're back blogging!)

  16. It was easily the most fun yet exhausting time of my life! 6am-2am days tho(!) haha x

  17. Thank you for this post! I'm totally going to bookmark this. Being a freelancer is definitely one of my biggest life goals and I'm saving up for it. Thanks again!! :) x


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