Success Story: Ellen Holcombe

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Finding something that you love to do, are passionate about and can turn into a career is one of the reasons why the freelance industry and ‘gig economy’ are booming.

We spoke to Ellen Holcombe, a freelance writer, about her experience and how freelancing has given her the opportunity to create a career working for herself.

So far, what has been your highlight since starting working for yourself?

The biggest highlight for me was a couple of weeks ago. I was sat in my home office, typing away, probably on article number 4 or 5 of the day, and I just remember thinking 'this is incredible, I'm being paid to do something that I love'. That for me was a pinch-me moment; I really started to appreciate all the hard work I'd put in to get to where I am.

How have you dealt with any adversity you’ve faced as a consequence of freelancing (if any)?

I think the biggest hurdle I've found is perhaps one that I have created; I'm only 23 so I often find myself wondering why anyone would take my opinion seriously. What would I know, right? I just have to keep reminding myself that it's not always about the amount of experience I have, but the quality of my experience and the quality of the work that I produce for my clients. I've never come across a single client who has voiced doubts about my age or experience.

Did you choose to work for yourself straight from university or did you work somewhere else first?

I didn't start freelancing until 2 and a half years after graduating. I'd worked in various full time marketing and project management roles and I realised that I just wasn't enjoying working on the same projects day in day out. I'd just got a promotion and I thought that if I don't make the leap now, I'll never do it. So I did, and haven't looked back.

I was also having problems with anxiety, it was slowly taking over my life due to the pressure that I was putting on myself to please my colleagues. Working for myself has been a way to stay in control of my workload, my clients, and the kinds of projects I work on.

Did you always want to work for yourself whilst you were at University?

Not at all; when I was at university I was desperate to get out into the working world and climb the career ladder. I could see myself working my way to some kind of Head of Marketing role at a big company. My mum has her own business and had always told me it's the best way to work; I never believed her until now.

Is your current career sector in line with what you studied at University?

It is, yes. I studied English Language, Literacy and Communication at university and despite straying away from this a little for a couple of years, I'm right back doing what I love: playing with words.

Did your University discuss freelancing/working for yourself/starting a business as a viable option post-graduation? Did they support your transition to freelancing?

Freelancing and starting your own business wasn't something that was discussed at university, even in the compulsory careers module. I think it's so important that students are made aware of the possibilities with freelancing, because although there are risks, it is a viable career option for plenty of people.

Would you encourage others to start a business?

Absolutely I would. I know that it's not for everyone, some people need the security of employment. If you're anything like me, however, enjoy working on different projects for different clients, and are a bit of a control freak, then freelancing could be for you. Work out what you love doing, what you're good at, and just go for it.

Is there anything you would change about your journey/career so far?

Not at all, I wouldn't even go as far as saying I wish I'd done it sooner. I think the journey I went on to get here was important in the shaping of my businesses and services.

To learn more about Ellen and her career you can visit her website,

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