top of page

My first year being Freaky by Design

I was unemployable as a designer. I had no qualifications so no one would hire me and therefore I had no experience.

But for the last 12 months I've been a successful self-employed graphic / web designer:

  • I have 20+ websites and 10+ brands in my portfolio

  • It has been my only source of income

  • I've financially met my side of the household contribution

  • My work fits around my life and I don't work full time

  • I'm a working mum: I home educate my son and run my own business

Here's the thing though - it's taken me nearly 20 years to achieve this.


Another Personal Best!

I've made my first £10K! ..

It's taken me 12 months and not 4 weeks - but the way I have done it has made me feel like millionaire!!

The entire £10,000 has been made from designing beautiful Wix websites, creating gorgeous brands and focused social media marketing for small businesses - so that £10,000 might as well be £100,000 in my eyes.

Could I work more? Yes. Could I earn more? Yes.

But for me, running my own business isn't about working all the time or making 6 figures, it's about bringing in the cash to pay the bills, whilst doing something I love. And then spend the rest of the time enjoying myself!

Where I am right now, is my version of SUCCESSFUL.


Almost 20 years previously ..

I've always wanted to be a Graphic Designer - right back since 1994 when I told my careers advisor as much. She was useless and her contribution was a leaflet for the Job Centre. But I knew the first thing I had to do was to get qualified, so I enrolled myself into an Art & Design college. I finished with 2 merited A Levels.

Unfortunately my parents then decided to tell me they couldn't afford to send me to university. At that age - without further education and a degree - no business would hire me as a designer.

In 1998 my dreams went in the bin and I got an office admin job.

I worked in admin for 12 years. I commuted with the World's Most Miserable People and ate my lunch out of Tupperware. I hated being employed. I hated being interviewed and pretending like 'this was the best job ever!' I hated being told what to do, when to do it and what to think. Company values, office politics, 9-5 and doing the same thing everyday, with the same people.

And I even hated Friday's because it was only two days until Monday again.


The Entrepreneur in me

Apart from having a job in design, I've always wanted to work for myself - ever since the age of 8. I remember seeing a shop For Sale in our local shopping parade and thinking 'one day I'm going to own that and run a business'.

Obviously I never bought that shop but I loved the sense of achievement and freedom I got whenever I thought about it.

But I come from a long line of grafters that said you should be employed in a job you hate for the next 50 years till you retire. Because that's the way it is.

To be fair, it taught me responsibility and loyalty - but it also made me feel like having my own business was never an option.


The Leap to Self Employment ..

In 2011 I couldn't stand office work anymore. I wanted to run my own business. I knew I couldn't be a Graphic Designer, so I did the next best thing - the right thing - and looked at doing something I enjoyed: photography.

I retrained in digital photography and Photoshop and quit my office job to become a Wedding Photographer.

It was HARD running my own business because over the next 5 years I always a struggled to find new clients, which fuelled my financial anxiety and imposter syndrome, so my confidence was low.

In the end it didn't feel right. I didn't enjoy being a professional photographer the way others clearly did. And if I'm going to be really honest, it didn't come naturally to me.

Plus, I needed a part time office job to fill in my income gap. In my head I was a Photographer / Business Owner - but to everyone else I was a part-time office temp with a failed business.

I wasn't a successful Business Owner because SUCCESSFUL to me meant:

  • it being my only source of income

  • having work come through organically

  • and to love what I was doing

So in 2016 when my son was born, it was a relief to give it up and focus on being a mum.

I vowed never to work for myself again.


I'll never go self employed again. But wait ..

Fast forward 6 months after my son was born there was no way I was going back into employment!

I didn't want to miss out on - or be away from - the most precious thing in my life: my son.

I will take the financial anxiety and lack of self confidence, thank you very much.


Self Employment: take 2

I previously tried running a business in something that I enjoyed but that didn't work out, so then I decided to run a business in something I was good at. The one thing I could do with my eyes closed and had LOADS of experience in was - admin.

I fucking hated it. But at least I was good at it.

So in August 2019 I started a Virtual Assistant business: One Hour PA, specialising in traditional admin services to small businesses in the Salisbury area.

Even though I had previous experience as a Business Owner, I wanted to do it properly this time, so I enrolled onto a VA Mastery Course in 'How To Start Your Own VA Biz' for £500. It was brilliant. It gave me business skills I completely missed the first time round (things like niching, branding and marketing).

(Check it out if becoming a Virtual Assistant ever interests you - )

My new business got off to a great start, compared to my photography venture and I felt good about this.

But there was something missing. And it was called passion.


A choir of angels started singing and light shone around me ..

During the early stages of my admin business I found - a brilliant piece of software to create a beautiful business website with. Then I discovered Canva - a much simpler and more fun version of Photoshop. I also got hooked on creating content for social media marketing and figuring the best strategy to build my online audience.

Casually, I started to offer branding, web design and social media marketing amongst my admin services.

Then one day in September 2020, I realised that I had been doing what I've always wanted to do - I had the clients and I was already doing the work. In fact I had already designed 5 websites and 2 brands with 2 other clients on my social media service.

If a design business wouldn't employ me as a designer - I'll start my own design business and DO IT MYSELF!!!

(que: choir of angels)

In October 2020, I closed down One Hour PA and Freaky by Design was born.

12 months later and I'm #LivingTheDream baby!! I don't do interviews, I do consultations. I don't go out begging for a job, people find me. I don't jump through qualification / experience hoops, I have natural talent and actual work. I'm doing what I have literally always wanted to do.


You know who you are ..

I want to thank each and every one of my clients who have believed in me enough to hire me - from quick power hours, to massive web design projects and ongoing social media retainers - you are the reason I am here today and living my dream and I love you for it.



If you like what you've just read, this is your personal invitation to join my newsletter mailing list for more tips and advice about web designs, brand design, marketing and my honest experience on what it's like to be a small business owner ..


Claire x

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page