Why I quit my job to be a freelancer


I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this post. If you’re dreaming about dropping out of the hamster-cage-daily-grind, I’ve written this article for you.

On a cold, September morning, I slinked into the office. I’d been doing this, at 9 am, every day, for five years. On this day, I looked around at my other peers. I didn’t relate to any of them. I knew I was different. Most worked furiously on their laptops, stimulated. Others were lifeless & dreaming of a different life. Deep down, I realised I was in the wrong place.

There are gazillions of articles out there telling you how to earn money without holding down a so-called “real job”. From an ex-permanent employee, I want to give you an honest guide to freelancing without the bull. I’ll go through the emotional truth including dealing with doubt, lack of motivation and the implications on your social life.

Bare in mind that I wholeheartedly endorse this life decision. It’s been a dream so far, and I would encourage any potential entrepreneur who has the passion, capacity and capability to do it.

How-to-freelance-the-wong-blogHow-to-freelance-the-wong-blog

Should you take the leap?

Honest question. Do you love what you do? Do you wake up in the morning, invigorated or do you wake up with fear & terror?

If it’s the latter, then I have a quote for you, “there’s no reason to do sh*t you hate. None.”

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. You need to be smart, have great work ethic & real passion. You need the motivation & emotional drive to push you to achieve your dreams.

Security

Okay, so I would love to tell you to pack up your stuff, tell your boss that you’re off, throw your papers in the air, fist-pump your colleagues and quit today. I highly recommend that you save a significant amount of money before you do. Every business needs capital. You need backup funds to pay for periods of the unknown. Sell everything you have. I’m deadly serious. My friends make fun of me because I eBay everything but excess possessions are counterproductive in a risky  lifestyle. There are a million handbags in the world; life-changing experiences happen once. Make a cuppa, sit down & write down the costs of your outgoings and how much you’ll need to make each month.

One of the major disadvantages of not working for an organisation is not having any company benefits – eek! I miss my discounts so much but let’s talk about the important stuff. As you will no longer have health and life insurance (which we take for granted, but it’s worth a lot), I would suggest setting up your own. Vitality is a good one because it rewards you with discounts for being healthy and you get subsided gym membership with Virgin Active. Otherwise, there’s Aviva which is pricier, but the critical illness cover is comprehensive because it protects you & your family. Otherwise, you’re covered with LV, and it’s a great value.

Tax & Pensions

You’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC. Once registered, you’ll receive your unique tax payers reference number. HMRC will nudge you to submit your tax return each year. You can file it yourself or hire an accountant. It’s my first one this year, and I’m hoping that I won’t find it too taxing (hehe, get it?). Keep all of your invoices, remittances & receipts as you can offset and expense any payments like travel & website costs from your earnings.

Transfer your company pension into a self-employed pension. Otherwise, if you withdraw it, you will lose the value that the government put in. My pension is currently with NEST, as I am my boss, I top up and pay myself. When I top up my pension, the government tops it up too!

Where to find freelance work?

Depending on the field that you want to enter, the most successful freelancers are represented by an agency. You have dedicated agents finding work for you on a regular basis.

Alternatively, freelance recruitment agencies can find contracts for you. Contractors can earn a minimum of £250 – 1k a day. If you set up a limited company, you can pay less tax (I think it’s 12.5% but do not quote me on this) on earnings.

Otherwise, you’ll need to build up your client base directly. The best sites for freelancers are PeoplePerHour, Upwork & Fiverr. Every highest earner from those sites has a story on Forbes. Read and be inspired by their stories.

Doing all three at the same time is possible.

Doubt, motivation & social life

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have the confidence to take risks. The old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you do not receive”. Your most powerful asset will be fear. It will present you with the commitment that you need to succeed. My post on improving your confidence is here.

You already have the motivation to wake up and go to work every day. With freelancing, there is no safety blanket. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. The harder I work, the more I profit, instantly. That’s the beauty of it.

The disadvantage is working crazy, unsociable hours. Your friends will want to meet up weekday evenings and weekends, lols, that never works on a freelance schedule. Freelancers don’t get paid leave. I can’t plan holidays anymore because a job could come up the day before. This will annoy some of the people in your life. You will become flakey AF.

Closing remarks

I quit my secure, permanent job late last year. I want to reassure you that it’s okay to want change. Initially, I was angry. I desperately wanted to fall head over heels in love with the corporate life. As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a ‘business lady’ at a big company.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved some of the permanent jobs I’ve had. I’ve learnt so much from each role. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind about freelancing. At this present time, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I’ll love to hear your experiences and whether you’re looking to take the plunge. Either option, I’ll be with you all the way.

And if you’re a freelancer, my butterfly, what does it feel like to be free?

How-to-freelance-the-wong-blog

Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

Blouse | Top | Skirt | BraShoes | Bracelet | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara |

Follow:

FACEBOOK HAS MADE YOUR EMBARRASSING PHOTOS PUBLIC: HERE’S MY GUIDE TO A DIGITAL CLEANSE

I was doing my usual online scrolling spree, and I noticed that Facebook has a shiny search innovation that predicts what you’re about to type.

The results appear in order, Google style. The first thing I thought was, ‘Ooooh this must be new’ (I worked in Digital Marketing for four years, I’m a special geek when it comes to this stuff).

Now, you may think this search bar is an innocent feature, but two things sprang to my mind, A) why are strangers names appearing? B) what can people see when they search for me?

I was right to be cautious. Test it for yourself.

1. Click on the search bar (you know that thing you type into to find your next stalking victim).

2. Type in [‘Name Photos’], e.g., Joe Blogs Photos (do this with someone you’re not friends with).

You can see Every. Single. Photo. In one place. Technically Facebook hasn’t done anything wrong because these images are set to public. That person can thank their mates for that. The issue here is that you can see into a strangers life without even being friends with them.

This sh*t is creepy AF.

The aim of this post is to prevent any Tom, Dick & Harry from seeing your old drunken pics from say, 2013.

Okay, so what is the solution to saving your last bit of dignity?

Go to your ‘activity log’ > click photos (left hand side) > change ‘shared with’ to ‘public’. All of these pictures are what strangers can see.

I untagged myself from a total of forty embarrassing photos from 2006 – present. I’ll give you some insight, the worst image involved significant pouting and gun fingers. No potential employer/client ever needs to see that.

Oh, and btw, it doesn’t stop there. You can also search for what people are liking: Type in [‘photos liked *insert friends name*.’] To see what photos other people are liking, it’s that easy. Be mindful of what you like, that is set as ‘public’.

Before I give you my tips, I want to show you the sort of messages that I get on the daily:

how-to-do-a-digital-detox

how-to-do-a-digital-detox

how-to-do-a-digital-detox

I’m super cautious of how I use Facebook. I know that’s ironic as I use Social Media to promote myself as my brand. The downside of being an ‘influencer’ is receiving the dodgiest messages. As a result, I’ve learnt how to be vigilant. (BTW I’m not whinging, I’m very lucky to call this my job, and I choose to put myself out on the WebSphere. Creepers are a symptom of my choice).

Your Guide to a Complete Digital Cleanse

Friend Audit

Okay, this is the most common practice. It’s important not to be friends with someone who you’ve never met. If you don’t know them, you don’t know what they’re capable of knowing and doing. Facebook has more personal data about you than you realise. I never accept people I don’t know. Delete anyone you don’t know, right now.

Your ‘About Me’ section

Set all of your personal information like your DOB, where you work, your schools & contact details to private and never public. You don’t want anyone to be able to see this. I’ve had a few friends become a target of fraud as a result.

Image audit

I had photos albums from 2006 called “R U DIZZY BLAD BEST DAY OUT”. Yeah. The pictures in those albums are hilarious, but I’m not sure I want the new people in my life browsing through them. I’ve set the majority of my photo albums to private so that I’m the only person to look back at the blossoming chav that I was.

Tagging

Be mindful of tagging yourself at locations if you’re alone and potentially placing yourself at risk. I never post Instagram pictures in real-time.

Limit past posts

In your younger years, you may have posted a witty status or photo & set it public. You wanted everyone to know how funny you were. I don’t blame you. You were a baby cub, audacious and exploring life. My friends, do not fear; at a click of a button you can revert all of these posts, look for a function called ‘limit past posts’. I like this feature because strangers can’t see who comments on my public profile pics.

Ah, Facebook. It’s nothing more than what we deserve – we made it our own. We gave it our data, used it to store our memories, communicate with our loved ones, organised our events and spent too many hours wasting our absent-minded afternoon lust by watching cat videos. There is no doubt that FB has revolutionised the way we communicate.

All it’s doing is responding to our desire, to turn a profit.

I just wish it didn’t make me feel like such a creep.

Location: Napland, London

Laptop Case (get 20% off with code: monicawong20) | Glasses | Top | Shorts | Duvet Cover & Pillow Cases Set |

Follow:

How to grow your confidence

As a teen, I wasn’t confident. Bullied during my school years, I always knew I was different. I was weird (I still am) and I had a drive that no one else had. People would ask me questions, and I would be too shy to answer them. I was an easy target.

Today, I’m confident, the happiest I’ve ever been, and I don’t apologise for it. Why should I? A journey with insecurities and low self-esteem is extremely hard to overcome. I believe that confidence is something we should celebrate.

The other day, a friend asked me how I developed confidence, and as a result, I’m going to share this personal post with you.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-modelHow-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Being who you are inside & out – loving yourself

You need to accept who you are, inside and out. Never try to be someone else or someone you’re not. You will be forever searching for comfort when all along, it’s within (PS I’m fully aware of how cringeworthy I sound, but it’s all true).

Fall in love with the strengths of your personality. Appreciate your: witty, smart, graceful, happy, motivated, assertive, organised and/or caring self. Dance, sing, speak: do the things that make you feel confident. It’s about being aware of makes you feel insecure and what makes you feel confident. I’ve been in situations where I could feel my confidence deteriorate, so I got up and removed myself. Surround yourself with people who ignite your positive attributes.

Fall in love with the flaws of your physical body. Accept it for what it is. If you’re unhappy with your body, do not whinge or compare yourself to someone else. Fall in love with your body. When someone tells you how beautiful you are, believe them.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-modelHow-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Risks

I see so much potential in my some of my friends that they cannot recognise in themselves because they lack the self-esteem to go and get what they want. Hate to break it to you folks; nothing will ever come to you on a white horse. Smart people do things directly or indirectly to get what they want:

Here are some examples:

Friend A wants to land their dream job, but they don’t think they’re good enough to apply. As Richard Branson said: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. I hesitated for a long time not to quit my secure job to go freelance, simply because I didn’t believe that I could do it. Since then, I’ve had incredible opportunities that I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t take the leap. Weigh the risks, and be aware of what your gut is telling you.

Friend B wants to fall in love, have amazing sex and relationship. They lack the confidence to leave the miserable one they’re currently in, or if single, they don’t think they’re good enough to communicate with that potential partner who could turn out to be ‘the one’. You get one shot at this life. As the saying goes, you don’t ask; you don’t get.

Friend C wants to have a fit, athletic body to feel comfortable in, but they’re self-conscious and is scared of people staring at them in the gym. It’s a catch 22. I’ll be honest; no one gives a flying f*ck about what you look like because they’re thinking about themselves. That’s the truth. Do what you want to do without the need to seek approval from others.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Learning to stop giving a f*ck about other people think

Aslong as it’s not a situation where your friend is trying to get you out of danger with their advice, then do not give a flying what people think. If people don’t like it, they can back off. You’re in your situation, not them. You do what you want because it’s what you wanted to do, at the time.

I’ve elaborated on this in my goals post but here’s a refresher.

  • Those who are confident in business are successful because they’re content with failure
  • Those who are trusting in their social lives are sure because they’re comfortable with rejection
  • Those who are self-sufficient in their relationships are trusting because they’re healthy enough to bear the risk of getting hurt

Be comfortable with the bad, to reap the good.

People who attack your self-esteem and confidence are well aware of your potential, even if you’re not. Once you’ve developed confidence, you will notice that you eat, sleep, and feel better.

I hope this post has inspired you to be more confident. Believe in yourself, believe that you can go for what you want and that you deserve it.

Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

Burberry Coat | Black Blouse | Leather ShortsQuay Sunglasses | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara | Red Lipstick |

Follow:

5 reasons to start Pilates

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I’m giving you another workout suggestion when you’re struggling to make time for a sit up.

There are more than five reasons to start Pilates. A reduction in stress, better sleep and improvement to your pelvic floor (wink) aren’t on this list, but they could be. If you practice yoga, you’ll love Pilates. Now I’m not an expert, but thanks to the lovely team at John Lewis, Pilates babe Lottie Murphy & Hayley from The Nutrition Coach, I’ve discovered some new health & fitness tips, and I’m going to share them with you.

PS excuse my weird feet. No amount of photoshop can save them.

Pilates

Breathing

Pilates is a mind-body workout, it emphasises on proper breathing techniques. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who do not breathe properly during workouts. I was encouraged to breathe through the nose and exhale via the mouth.

Total Body Workout

Pilates works the body in a practical way; the movements are designed to prepare you for the physical challenges of daily life. The sequences encourage the use of all muscles in the body.

Core Stability & Postural Alignment

Many of us suffer from poor posture. Pilates teaches you to maintain optimum alignment in the spine and core.

Muscle Tone and Strength

Pilates elongates and strengthens the body, developing muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Due to the nature of holding positions for extended periods of time, you’ll improve your stamina.

Improved Body Awareness

Pilates encourages you to be aware of your body. In practice, you’ll notice how far you can push yourself and which areas of the body that you should pay particular attention.

Smoothies

As part of the John Lewis Wellbeing Campaign, we made delicious smoothies at the Oxo Tower (recipes below).

There are more smoothie and juice ingredients that you can pop into your blender than you think. Let’s start with the basics. Add in your favourite: fruits, vegetables & herbs (I love orange, carrot, mint & spinach). Then combine with water or coconut water. If you’re making a berry-based smoothie, it’s a treat with milk (almond & soy are great vegan alternatives). If you have nuts/seeds and olive/flaxseed oil lying around, pop those in too. If you’ve got spices; add a pitch of those (turmeric is a good one as it’s anti-inflammatory). I’ve recently discovered Matcha, Spirulina and Cacao powder; oh boy they’re delicious in drinks.

To cover all your juicing needs, here’s what I learnt from the event:

  • Don’t forget to fill your smoothie cup to the brim! It keeps it fresher for longer.
  • For best results, drink your juice straight away or within twenty-four hours. Methanol levels in stored fluid can develop a naughty formaldehyde, which is toxic in the body.
  • Post workout, the thirty-minute recovery window is when the body is at peak for juice uptake.

As promised, here are the smoothie recipes that we made on the day:

Get your game on green smoothie

This glass of green goodness has lots of leafy greens, teamed with the benefits of electrolytes in the coconut water; this is perfect for an energy boost!

Ingredients
Two handfuls baby spinach leaves
300ml coconut water
One ½ cups fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
One tsp coconut oil
One scoop whey protein powder
½ tsp cinnamon
Manuka honey to taste
One tsp maca powder (optional)
One scoop spirulina powder (optional)

Red ambulance recovery shake

Packed full of antioxidants, this alkaline shake is a yummy way to muscle recovery. The turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits which help with body retrieval.

Ingredients
1/3 can coconut milk
100ml coconut water or plain water
1 banana
One scoop whey protein powder
½ cup frozen berries
One handful cos or romaine lettuce leaves (not iceberg as this is the lowest in nutritional value)
1-2 tsp Manuka Honey
One tsp cinnamon
One tsp turmeric

I hope these health & fitness tips have helped you. If you’re a Pilates guru, did I miss anything?

Location: Bedfordshire
Photographer: The fabulous Simon Richardson 
Calvin Klein Bralette | Calvin Klein Shorts | Nike Running Tights | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Waterproof Mascara |

Follow:

Happy Chinese New Year: six steps to achieving your goals

Happy Chinese New Year (春节快乐). It’s the Year of the Rooster. Do you know what Roosters do? They wake up & get sh*t done. The aim of this post is to lead you to your dreams so that you can be the best version of yourself (and all that jazz).

For the first time in my life, I’ve started this year as a freelancer, so I have no excuse for being unorganised. Anyway, this isn’t about me, let’s begin the journey to a goal getting you.

In the Chinese Fire Rooster spirit, I’m going to split this up into three sections: health, happiness and prosperity.

Health

Exercise

I don’t work-out to look like a Victoria Secret Model; I exercise because it drives my motivation, confidence, determination, willpower, organisation, and of course, my health. If you don’t know the benefits of regular exercise, you must be living under some (excuse the pun) large rock. Besides from naturally making you feel sexy (hi endorphins), exercise improves your mood, sleep, energy, *ahem* sex life, concentration and learning. I enjoy yoga, pilates and flexibility exercises. But everyone is different, find your sport that makes you thrive and set goals.

Food

Apparently, I’m a ‘human dustbin’. The fact is, most of us are, and we do not eat well. I’m an advocate of food education because most of us lack the time and knowledge, so we settle for quick and easy junk food. If you don’t know how to cook; start with the basics. Fry, scramble, boil or poach an egg. The ingredients for salads or wraps are endless: mix up some lettuce, avocado, peppers, beans, sweet corn, salsa, mushrooms, peppers and meat (or falafel if you’re vegetarian). It’s quick and easy to make homemade fresh pesto, soups and smoothies with a Nutribullet. If you need a kick up the bum, join cooking classes. The benefits of eating fresh are again: better energy, focus, mood (from sugar) and sleep. Being a great cook means that you develop a greater appreciation for good food and you save money by not eating out.

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Happiness

Friends & Family

Alright, this may sound like an obvious one. But listen up, it’s important. Many of us, overlook our relationships and we don’t give them the time and attention necessary to keep them healthy and happy. If you want a long and happy life, spend time with your loved ones. I can’t tell you how much better I feel with just half an hour with my friends. Don’t make distance an excuse; no one wants to hear it. As humans, we need physical contact. Try and be physically touched every day. And no, I’m not asking you to start touching people up because that’s creepy AF. It could be as little as shaking hands, hugging or sitting next to someone. Get in contact with those (not the drama llamas please) who you haven’t seen in a while. You might be surprised at how receptive they are to meeting you.

Confidence & Honesty

Plato said, “the man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily”. Having a good relationship with yourself and thus, the people in your life is the key to happiness. The two keys to happiness are confidence and honesty. I will write about my journey to confidence soon, but in short, many people don’t like themselves, and this hinders them from their potential to do amazing things. My advice (unless you’re in danger) would be not to give a flying f**k about what people think. You know your path more than anyone else. And always be honest. If you don’t, I promise you; it will bite you in the ass. And this is why. Lying breaks trust. Individuals who lie, carry a burden of guilt and unhappiness that they (unconsciously) bring into their future situations, which in turn causes karma towards themselves (and they always get found out eventually anyway).

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Monica-Wong-Model-The-Wong-Blog-five-steps-to-achieving-your-goals

Prosperity

Creativity

I believe that we all have a creative outlet within us. It’s a such a shame that 1) most of us are too busy to channel it and 2) most jobs are process-driven and not imaginative. By performing the same tasks every day, you’re blocking yourself from potentially prosperous opportunities. There’s no harm in making a habit of regularly performing an activity that you enjoy. Painting, knitting, making pottery, photography, singing, dancing, playing instruments — if you enjoy a venture, do it. Aside from organising your mind, uninhibited self-expression opens doors. You could meet like-minded friends who will contribute to your success in the future; you could win yourself an award or get to perform on stage. You get the gist.

Reading & writing

We’re so lucky to live in a country that has educated us to read to and write. I can’t express to you how fundamental these creative skills are. The written word is the basis for civilisation. Without the capacity to feel each other’s thoughts, we have no sense of identity. I know that I’m not the greatest writer that has ever lived; for god’s sake, I pose for a living. But as a skill, you need to be able to communicate with people at all levels, in a clear and coherent way. The mind is a muscle that we need to exercise. If you’re going through a tough time, write it down. Writing helps structure your thoughts so that you think clearly. Treat yourself to nice stationery and write down your ideas. I love all of my beautiful notebooks; Kikki K is my fave brand ATM. If you’re reading this and haven’t developed the urge to facepalm, you probably already enjoy reading. People who read regularly are smarter, well-informed and are better at generating ideas. It’s cliche, but knowledge is power. If you aren’t enjoying a book, stop reading it. And find material that you enjoy.

To achieve your bigger goals, you need to form habits. These are your smaller daily goals. They are the basis of substantial achievements. It’s about being consistent.

The benefits of exercise, food, reading & writing, confidence and honesty overlap of each other; they affect you in all domains: physically, emotionally and socially.

I’ve been so excited to write and release this post. I would love if you could share it with your fellow fire roosters.

Love Monica x

Location: Richmond Park, London

Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

Red Dress | Nars Foundation | Nars Concealer | Nars Multiple | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Loreal Eyeliner | Clinique Mascara | Guerlain La Petite Noire Lipstick |

Follow: