10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Working For Myself



Next month will mark the five year anniversary of me leaving my job in beauty editorial to work on my blog ‘Vivianna Does Makeup’ as it was then – full-time. I can’t believe we’ve bloody made it to five years. How mad is that? Growing up, working for myself was never really on the cards. No one in my family owned a business and most were in office work or trades, and at school I did those tests with the Career Advisor that flashed up results that said I was a good candidate for teaching or HR work. Working in the HR department at MAC Cosmetics was the dream.

Things took a turn at Uni when the fire in my belly for beauty took over and I started this blog, back in March 2010. Of course it makes sense now – I was always going to do this, it just didn’t exist then. When I was younger I would pretend I was a fashion designer and write magazines with my sister at the weekends. I had a barbie head that I’d spend the evenings smoothing blue eyeshadow up to her eyebrows and I even started an AOL chatroom for girls-only to talk about beauty, boys and fashion (it only lasted a couple of days before they informed my Dad and it got taken down – damn parental controls!).

My jump into the full-time blogging world was a gradual one thanks to me cutting down my hours of work to part-time in editorial first (have a listen to Lizzy’s podcast for more on that), but it was a still a bit of a shock to the system when I dived in headfirst with little savings to back me up and a ridiculously expensive/ridiculously small London flat to rent. Here are 10 nuggets that I would pass on to my early twenties self if I was to do it all over again…


The first years require GRAFT, but it’s a hell of a ride. I don’t like to moan, nor do I like to make out that bloggers are martyrs, but whenever you give up a secure salary for a new business venture that could earn you a big fat zero one month, it’s a risky move – whatever industry you’re in. Now I can’t believe I did it! I was so young and naive and had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, just some kind of innocent belief that I could make it work. But I wouldn’t change those early days and mistakes for anything. Character building and all that.

Daytime TV is a slippery slope. I learnt this one pretty early on, so now I just don’t switch on the TV during the day. It was never really daytime TV that was the issue, but more Friends being on E4 constantly and then when I found How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, I watched the whole series in about four days. I used to just put it on in the background but found myself glued to it for hours. So if Jeremy Kyle is trending on Twitter, resist the urge.

You have a new found respect for those who work a 9-5 and still manage to schedule appointments. Seriously – how do you do it? How the hell did I ever do it? I have mad respect for those that still manage to go keep up with regular visits to the dentist every six months and hold down a 9 to 5.

Lap up your colleagues (even the kinda annoying ones). Setting yourself up as a one woman band can be lonely at times and I often find myself leaning over the banister watching the front door for Mark to come home (HOW LAME AM I?), so if you currently have colleagues lap ’em up. Share lunches with them, go for after-work drinks and tart yourself up in the loos together before. I was lucky to work with some really lovely ladies and lads throughout my office work days and I still miss them (AGAIN – HOW LAME AM I?).


Delegating is everything. In the early days of your business you do everything, but as things grow it’s time to delegate to ensure that you’re running things to the best quality level that you can and at the most efficient capacity. Chances are that you’re a control freak like me and the idea of somebody else doing a task that you usually do is terrifying; but learning that you’re not the best at everything and to loosen the control a little is a big step forward.

Explaining your job is strangers is interesting. With jobs in the digital industry being more prevalent these days, sometimes when I explain that I’m a blogger/YouTuber/Instagramer/Podcaster hybrid, people get it. Other times they’ll misunderstand and think that I run an eBay page, which I’m still convinced is what my Grandparents think I do. It makes meeting people at weddings a very interesting experience.

Get help with your finances. Thankfully I had my Dad on hand during the early days of setting myself up telling me to get on board with an Accountant even though at the time I really couldn’t afford it, but I’m so bloomin glad I did. So I’m throwing this one in there as a word of advice for any fellow freelancers or business peeps; Accountants aren’t the cheapest thing in the world, but they make the backend of running an operation run SO. MUCH. SMOOTHER. It’s worth the investment for sure.


Everyone will think you are free and available 24/7. Whilst it’s sometimes a nice distraction to have your parents pop over mid-afternoon or to be able to go for lunch with a mate who’s got the day off, contrary to popular belief I often am not available for social engagements during classic working hours. I wish I was (don’t we all?), but this post ain’t gonna finish itself, you know?

Office Christmas parties are hilarious. My first ever Christmas party was when I worked in retail when I was 17 and my older colleagues managed to sneak me into a PROPER CLUB and it was possibly the coolest day of my life. I also remember one office Xmas shindig where I had to spend the whole train journey back to Brighton locked in the loo because I’d had way too many raspberry sambucas. It’s the one time of year that always brings back a little twinge and yearn for colleagues.

There are pros and cons. The moral of the story is that there are pros and cons to both sides of the career coin and I’ve tried my best to soak up all the juicy bits of both because you never know where you’ll end up in the future. In the meantime if you currently work in a office in the city, then have a Pret Prosciutto and Cheese Baguette for me at lunch because man where they the highlight of my day when I worked in London. Slip in a Chocolate Mousse whilst you’re there too because let me tell you, the tin of baked beans in my cupboard just don’t look so appealing…

Photos by Lauren Shipley

*Sign up to my monthly newsletter ‘An Edited Life’ here*