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I’m here to assist you with your freelance onboarding



One year after starting to work for herself, Esther O’Moore Donohoe gives her guide to being self-employed


Hello and welcome to self-employment. You listened to Break My Soul on repeat ten days ago and handed in your notice two days later, as is your right. My name is Esther and I’m here to assist you with your freelance onboarding. I have officially been a self-employed person for one calendar year. In that time I’ve snot cried in the car park of Harvey Norman, Carrickmines over a broken laptop, checked my bank account 1,692 times and bought three bird feeders that live in the window opposite my desk. But you, my friend, are a newly hatched self-employed-er who can’t think beyond next Tuesday let alone a whole year so I am writing this for you. You won’t find what I am about to share in any HR manual/blog post or on a podcast because it is of no practical use. Just remember to put away your tax money, don’t dilly with your invoicing and you’ll be off to a good start. Let’s release our wiggles and get started. 

Sexy Time

Time is an illusion but also your own personal Tamagotchi which you are now completely in charge of. There’s no neat clocking in and clocking out time in Self-Employment Land.  There are days when being your own time Lordette will mean googling ‘cool shorts’ into Google for an hour instead of dealing with the huge deadline hanging over your head. Ignoring the responsibilities you have a contractual obligation to fulfil is simply all part of the magical process of working for yourself. Some days it will seem like there are fires everywhere and you’ll feel utterly overwhelmed. In these moments, remember you can only do one thing at a time so prioritise your flaming work turds in order of importance. And then go back to the shorts because you are an unstoppable self-saboteur with great legs. 

The end of office cakes

Undoubtedly, the best part of office life were the meeting sandwiches. Some would turn their noses up at the slightly curled, dried up platters of dough but not me. Add a side salad of Cheese and Onion Hunky Dorys and boom, you’d have a full meal. Unfortunately, the glory days of slightly stale free food are over once you flip the self-employed switch. You are now the human vending machine and supplier of tea bags, snacks, lunches, electricity, equipment, building, phone, Wifi and everything else you can possibly think of. On the plus side, you can sing Come What May from Moulin Rouge full blast at your desk at half eight in the morning and no one can stop you. 

Put it on my account! 

Seen a snazzy pen or an embossed notebook on your travels lately? Wanted to throw it in your basket but then you remembered the world is on fire and you have no money? Well, yippee ki-yay my friend, because you need it for work and therefore can expense the papier frippery when tax return time comes around. That hardback Minion Keep Calm and Eat A Banana notebook is coming home with you bbz because you are a real life business person. But don’t forget to K.D.R (Keep Dem Receipts).

Who’s the boss?

You are of course – which is great because now you can make jokes to people about sleeping with the boss and then doing the big reveal ‘Because I work for myself!’. Everyone around you will cry laughing and lift you up on their shoulders, as a small crowd gathers to clap and cheer.

Would you like to see my spreadsheet?

If you’re single and looking to find a significant other, your newly acquired skills with a spreadsheet will increase your allure and sex appeal by 800%. Deadlines and outstanding invoices are just two of the infinite number of things you can list in rows and columns. Make your potential lover’s eyes dance with desire as you show them how you use pivot tables to recognise and organise information. Add ‘highly proficient in Excel’ to your dating profile today and wait for the magic to happen. You’re welcome.

Breaking the internet 

‘Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?’ And by thing, I’m referring to the internet, because trust me, sometimes your inbox will be Tumbleweed City, USA and you’ll start to sweat, especially at the start. You’ll send out an email containing an explosively breathtaking idea that will change the future course of the universe only to get….nothing. Nada. Not a fiddler’s fart of a response or offer will show itself in your inbox. You consider going on Facebook and marking yourself as safe in case people think something has happened to you and so there’s no point in replying to your email. The internet is not broken – people are just busy. 

Night night

Being self-employed means that sometimes you’ll need to work through the weekend. Some days you’ll have so much to do you’ll forget to leave the house but you can’t run on an empty sleep tank. At a certain point you’ve got to put down the laptop and go to sleep my bébé. You want to deliver more mediocre ideas on time? Then it is essential for you to rest and restore. And put down your phone. 

The semi-sincere closer

And there you have it. You’ve made it to the end of this piece and are possibly more confused than ever. But if you’re thinking about changing your career or working for yourself, don’t be an island – ask questions to friends and family who have made similar decisions. I thought about leaving my day job for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long time. Too long if you ask me, which you didn’t but here we are. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything, everywhere all at once. You will make mistakes along the way which is great because that’s the best way to learn so be nice to yourself. And of course, when in doubt stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, what would Beyoncé* do? 

*net worth circa $500 million.