self-employed – adjective | self–em·ployed | \-im-ˈplȯid\

: : earning income from your own business or profession rather than by working for someone else

A year ago, I left the security of a job and a paycheck and employer-sponsored insurance. I gave two months notice, and nearly wore myself into the ground trying to document and train on all my duties. On my last day at the office, there were treats and gifts and see-you-laters.

Then, two weeks later, I was back. My former employer hired me as a freelancer. Shortly after that, another organization I was already contracting with expanded my duties. Friends and acquaintances heard I was now freelancing, and soon I was editing books and taking on web content projects. Not to mention finishing up my own book with Ann Kroeker, followed shortly after with a book launch, speaking engagements, workshop teaching, and more. Last fall, I legally organized my business as an LLC and applied for a federal tax identification number. I even got my own checking account.

Steve and I had saved money and prepared for a hit to our income when I resigned from my job. I expected to have a few months of down time to prepare and plan my new business. Instead, I hit the ground running, earning back my income and more, and at the one-year mark of being totally self-employed, I’m just now getting around to taking the time to figure out what I want to do.

So, I’m giving myself an annual review. The boys and I always tease about how my boss treats me (that’s me, by the way, in case you missed it. I’m my own boss!), but maybe, just maybe, she’ll have something nice to say about the work I’ve done this year. So, as I take this opportunity to reflect back on a year of being self-employed, here are three things I’ve learned while working for myself this year.

  1. Sick time, vacation days, or personal time are called benefits for a reason. And if I ever have a job again that offers these, I promise I won’t take them for granted. Working for myself means when I’m not working, I’m not making any money. Which is actually okay based on the way we’ve planned things, but try telling that to my anxiety level, which shoots sky high anytime I need to take a day off.
  2. People who work at home don’t really work in their pajamas. Okay, so I did this once when I was working in bed, trying not to take a sick day. But other than that, I get up and get dressed every day. Now, it’s not like I wear a suit and put on lipstick, but I at least have on different clothes than the ones I slept in. And most days, I take a shower even.
  3. Being self-employed requires a lot of paperwork. You might not think someone who writes for a living would need many accounting or administrative skills. But you would be wrong. I spend several hours each week updating my to-do list, rearranging my calendar to squeeze in events, walking to the bank to deposit checks I receive, recording expenses, and filing away receipts. I’m constantly behind on correspondence, and I’ve developed ADD trying to keep my inbox clean. Oh, and did I mention I don’t get paid for all this administrative work?

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It didn’t take long once I started working for myself to ask, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” That’s a post for another day. But now that I’ve done it and have a whole year under my belt, I am more grateful than ever that it’s working. At least for now.

On a side note, I’m taking this annual opportunity to introduce a few changes to my business model and website.  Over the past year, I’ve been able to fine-tune what it is I do, and I hope these changes will help you know what that is, too. When you visit my website, you’ll notice a new logo and a new tagline to help people understand a little more about what I do. Also, I’ve developed a new web design to allow first time users and regular guests to find their way a little easier to what they are looking for. I still have a blog, portfolio, and events calendar. But now you can also find articles, services, and resources based on who YOU are. Are you a reader who’s interested in what I write as well as other good authors and books? Check out the Readers section. Are you a writer looking for resources and encouragement? There’s a Writers section for you. Or maybe you are a prospective client looking for someone to help you with writing, editing, content marketing, speaking, teaching, or coaching? Now there’s also a section for Potential Clients.

One thing has not changed in this first year, though. More than ever, I have a passion for bringing words to life.

What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.

Photo by Harsh Patel, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.