What I Learned in my First Year as a Self-Employed Social Media Entrepreneur

Sage Media Collective | Rachel Regal Melvin

For the last two weeks, I’ve been counting down to this day! It’s officially been one year since I launched Sage Media Collective into the world. My lifelong dream of being a full-time entrepreneur and working for myself came true on September 1, 2021. It’s been the fastest year I’ve ever experienced. I can’t believe it; it feels like just yesterday that I woke up without an alarm clock, a long commute, and dread over how the day would go.

To celebrate, I wish I would have planned a little party, but as I said, things moved so quickly that I woke up and only had two weeks to plan! So I’ll share my learnings from the last 365 days in hopes of inspiring or helping other aspiring entrepreneurs.

I should have started sooner.

I know my dad is saying, “I told you so.” right now. I have always been fearful of taking risks. I’m a rule follower. But the rewards from the risks I’ve taken over the last years are convincing me otherwise! (That and a lot of help in therapy.)

I know that every job leading up to this point taught me exactly what I needed to get here. Especially the confidence I needed to do this on my own. But had I known how rewarding and not at all scary this experience would be, I would have started a long time ago. I claimed this domain name years before I launched! I created so many logos, business plans, and ideas. I wish I would have known this was so doable and so, so worth it.

Don’t try to do it all.

Listen, I read all the tips from other people, and everyone says this. Of course you have to do it all when you’re self-employed… but what I mean is hire someone else to do it for you. I outsourced my bookkeeping and accounting almost immediately. I’m not an expert in accounting, and I got tired of saving 40% of my income away. I knew I needed help with that in order to take one stressful thing off my plate.

Then, when I got too busy and drained with my daily tasks, I got help from my sister, family, and husband. I can’t believe the immediate relief I felt when I was able to offload even just a tiny bit of work and have a second set of eyes helping me with content and filming.

Another aspect of this was learning to say, “No, thank you. I can’t do that right now.” when I knew I didn’t have the resources to take on a client or continue with a current client. You don’t have to do it all, and you can’t.

A closed door opens another.

There were projects I pitched that I really wanted but didn’t get. There were projects I had to let go of. There were projects that weren’t re-signed when it was time for renewal. At the time, I let myself be upset for about a day. Each time, something better happened for me when that last door closed.

One of my quotes for 2022 is “This or something better.” to remind myself that those things that I want for myself might be limiting me. I may want to take a trip to the beach, but if a trip to a private island landed in my lap, how could I say no?!

It’s easy to get caught up in the rejections or the mistakes, but it’s best to use them as a learning opportunity and move right along to the next great thing that’s about to happen.

Protect your peace.

Before I was self-employed, I almost never worked on the weekends. Now, I find myself working on the weekends more often–but also because I love my work and want to do it all the time now! However, there was a time I was so busy that I was working all day long, all night long, and through the weekends. I also wouldn’t leave the house for days on end.

I knew I couldn’t keep this up because I was feeling exhausted and burnt out. So now I’ve incorporated outdoor breaks throughout the day, fewer hours working on the weekend (only if I want to!), working from coffee shops, and asking for help. I also started to go to therapy again and even started taking medication for anxiety!

When you’re the boss, it’s so important to have boundaries with yourself and others. If you take care of yourself, you can take care of your clients/customers/business so much better.

Celebrate the wins.

When you’re employed by someone else, you typically have a team (or at least one other person) who will call out your achievements. When you work for yourself, it feels like bragging. I try to be a humble person, and while I love recognition, I hate feeling like I’m fishing for it. (‘Words of affirmation’ is my love language!) But when there’s no one else around, you have to take responsibility for celebrating your achievements.

I’m grateful to have clients who are so supportive and encouraging (!!), so whenever they compliment me or my work, I save a screenshot and add it to a folder on my computer. When I have a frustrating day, I look through the compliments to help me remember I’m doing a good job! I highly recommend that everyone do this!

I also bragged to my family many times, and I’m so glad to have their support. My friends have also been absolutely amazing over the last year with business advice, giving me confidence, being excited for me, and just being there for me personally. So I guess this one could also double as “Find a support system.”

This is the part where I say “thank you” to all of my family, friends, and clients who have helped me along the journey! I feel so lucky, so grateful, so happy every single day that I wake up and get to do this thing. Life goal = achieved!

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