Guest Post: Why I Love my Weird Portfolio Career

Our second guest post while I’m away on my honeymoon is from Katy, my fellow freelance friend and founder of Freelance Folk.

Katy Carlisle helps people to create lovely websites using a tool called Squarespace. She’s also the founder of Freelance Folk, an award-winning community for freelancers that runs popup coworking social events in Manchester and Sheffield.

She likes sustainability, food and animals. Which is lucky, as she lives in the Peak District with her boyfriend, two cats and two dogs.


Why I Love my Weird Portfolio Career

I was chatting with some other small business owners a few weeks ago and we started talking about the jobs that we’d had before becoming self-employed. Some of them were quite surprising!

It got me thinking about the jobs that I’ve had on the route to becoming a freelance Squarespace whisperer. Rather than just recreating my LinkedIn profile, I’ve decided to make things a bit more interesting and hand out awards to my former roles.

Poorest Performance


Possibly the world’s worst waitress, in fact.

My first ever job was working for the Boddington Arms Pub in Wilmslow. The whole terrible affair came about when I asked one of the parentals for a clothing allowance, to which she responded, “Yes, but you have to try and get a job first”. Most 15 year olds would have nailed this; making it look like they’d tried to find work but been turned down at every opportunity.

Annoyingly for me, I was a GOOD GIRL. And I liked to do things properly (to be fair, I still do). I didn’t deliberately mess up the application form or “accidentally” get the interview time wrong. And I got the stupid job. Amazingly, I lasted six months despite regular excellent service which included dropping a (used) fork in a man’s pint and spilling a jug of water so that every single person seated around the table somehow ended up getting soaked. I had one couple who “dined and dashed” as well, but I think my highlight was getting a 2p tip. Like, they had to actively leave TWO PENCE.


Most Surprising Job

Estate Agent

Yes, it’s weird. I’m a generally decent person with a strong ethical framework. Plus I’m really bad at sales.

However I did, and still do, really like houses.

At University, I’d spend most of my time watching Sarah Beeny roll her eyes as couples ignored her patronising-but-ultimately-sensible advice. I was looking forward to pretending to be one half of Kirsty and Phil, and showing people round houses on viewings. Unfortunately, the location that I worked from was deemed too dangerous for a girl to show people round unaccompanied, so I was consigned to the office. I don’t think I got to see the inside of a single house in the months that I was there.

The deal breaker for me though was the income structure. You got a bit of commission for completed house sales, which I was quite good at as it was just matching people with places and not being overly evil or incompetent, but the rest mainly came from upselling mortgages. The problem was that I just couldn’t in good conscience recommend our in-house mortgage advisor. It had also been marketed as a graduate scheme role, but it became apparent pretty quickly that nobody had actually put a scheme in place, and after six months not a single person remained from the ten that had started.


Most Obvious Future Career Hint That Was Ignored For 10 Years

MA in French to English Translation

This technically wasn’t a job, but I was working full time whilst studying. My workplace was conveniently located next door to the lecture theatre and my lectures were extremely conveniently timed at 1pm and 5pm, so I would run over as soon as my lunchbreak started or my working day ended.

Anyway, I digress. For my Masters I had to do a dissertation, which consisted of a large translation of our choosing, plus some boring academic theory. I just about scraped a pass on the theory side, but got great marks for the practical part, which was… [drumroll please] the translation and redesign of a French website. Naturally, I then went on to work as a teacher and in the charity sector for another decade until I finally listened to my webby calling 😂

My final award is more of a thank you to an organisation that I used to work for.


Lifetime Contribution Award

Positive Impact

I started working at this non-profit in 2011, and it’s here that everything begins to make a bit more sense. My teaching experience was actually relevant, as I was project managing the education programme, and they even wanted a bit of sales experience so I was able to refer to my time as an estate agent during the interview.

During the three years I worked for Positive Impact, my role evolved to focus more on managing their online systems, as I finally embraced my inner geek. Seriously, at one point I swear I had a montage of all the clues that been left for me along the way. It wasn’t just the dissertation! My friend Sally and I had taught ourselves HTML to make Geocities websites in 1998, I did a project on the use of technology in the classroom as part of my teacher training… The list went on.

So I’m really grateful to my former boss Fiona, who gave me the space to develop and figure all of this out. She’s really inspiring and passionate about people living the lives that they want, even though sometimes this backfires on her as there are quite a few of us who were so inspired that we left to set up our own businesses! It’s all worked out brilliantly though, as Positive Impact are now my clients so it’s lovely to still be involved with what they’re up to, plus I get to go along to their Christmas do. Yay!

One of my former colleagues Charlie (who now works as a florist) nailed it. “It’s like Hotel California. You can check out, but you never leave”.


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My Office Reveal (Hello Polkadots!)

It’s finally finished!

I am completely in love with my newly decorated office. Check out the before shot. What a difference right? With some new furniture and a fresh coat of paint, it feels like a completely different space.

office reveal complete

My first job was to cover up the previous shoddy paint job and get some colour on the walls. The colour, “Nordic Sky” turned out to be a little darker than I would of liked but overall I’m happy with the end result. My favourite part of the walls is of course the polka dot statement wall. I’ve been wanting one for years and now I’ve finally got one!

office reveal corner desk

As for the desk, I’ve been after a corner desk for awhile and this one bought on a whim from Amazon* turned out to be absolutely perfect for both the space and my needs. As you can see, it fits everything from my laptop, monitor and printer, right down to all my little bits and bobs I like to have at arms reach.

office reveal desk closeup

The hang and peg kit was a present at Christmas from Emma and I was so happy to finally get it up. Unfortunately I ran out of pegs so will have to get some more as I want to fill in the gaps. But for now it looks great.

office reveal photos

office reveal printer

Apart from the desk, the main feature of the room is the Ikea bookcase I waited weeks for. It was definitely worth the wait!

office reveal bookcase view

I’m so happy to be able to finally display all my knick naks including vintage cameras that used to belong to my grandad. I finally got to put up a jewellery holder I’ve had for 2 years and never used. At last!

office reveal bookcase top

Everything has a place now.

I’ve successfully decluttered the room to fit in only the essentials and things that have sentimental value. My mind feels so clear now that I know where everything is.

office reveal bookcase

And Luna likes it too!

office reveal luna

So what do you think? And how would you decorate your dream workspace?

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My Week #21: Salad and Cake and Curry

my week #21 - 2

Oh My! Sorry I couldn’t resist!

*Visited MilkJam *Went to a Blogger Event at Chop’d (post coming next week)

*Freelance-a-lot conference *Got the new Slimming World curry book

*Another wedding *Cheeky trip to Chiquitos

*Finally cleared off my desk! *Pickles and Luna snuggling up together


So since I didn’t get the chance to do a my week post last week, this is a my fortnight post. We went to our second wedding out of the four we’re attending before our own next year and it was lovely. Though lesson learned, don’t convoy. Never convoy! The wedding itself was beautiful and just like I did with the last one I took a few mental notes. Definitely one of the advantages of getting married last in the wave.

It’s beginning to look a lot like autumn! I’m getting into the full swing of it. I’ve already had two pumpkin spice lattes and bought the limited edition Baileys Pumpkin Spice flavour. It’s delicious! Topher and I have decided we’re having a halloween party so I’ve been pinning like mad. I can’t wait. We also purchased our first Slimming World recipe book because it just looked amazing and so far it is. I’ve only tried two recipes but that will be rectified this week. I just love making autumn and winter recipes along with snuggling up on the sofa and wearing my winter coat, bobble hat and gloves. It’s an awesome time of year! I’ve even made Topher love the changing seasons.

On the business and blogging side, I’ve been to a blogger event at Chop’d which I’ll be blogging about on Monday. That was on the night of the crazy apocalyptic rain/thunder/lightning storm that Manchester had. And I was outside in it. Unsurprisingly I had to buy new shoes. Oh well. I also attended the Freelance-a-lot conference at Workplace on Oxford Road. Great afternoon! I learned lots and met lots of lovely people. I’ve started laying some of the groundwork for my new business and am very excited so again, more on that soon!

How has your week/fortnight been?

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#BEDM Day 4: What’s In My Bag

As previously mentioned. I don’t go out of the house a lot (hermit!). But I’m going to show you what’s in my bag when I do.

So since I’m a freelancer working from home, as many Friday’s as I can I head into Manchester and meet other freelancers at a café called Zieferblat for Freelance Friday. Here’s what’s in my bag.


I try to carry as little as possible since this bag is kind of on it’s last legs and inside is my laptop. It is a Macbook Air so it’s pretty light but this bag isn’t that great. It’s from Primark, pleather with flimsy straps and the main drawstrings have been pissing me off for the last few months as it takes me a year to close them. My next rucksack will have a zip I swear.

So after my laptop – I bring my Kikki K diary and my plain black bullet journal along with 3 pens. Because hey, what if the first two pens run out? This week there is a pair of sunglasses because I’m feeling optimistic and also some much needed lip balm.


As well as my keys and box of business cards (when I remember to bring them!) I also carry the usual rubbish of old train tickets, receipts and what appears to be a slimming world hi fi bar wrapper. Sometimes I bring food with me to eat on the train and sometimes I don’t. If I haven’t had time for lunch I’ll pop a sandwich in my bag but usually I’ll just be resisting the temptation of biscuits and cake at Zieferblat. So far I’ve only given in once.


In my bag you will also find my phone. It’s not pictured because it’s what I’m using to take photos of! Oh and headphones are a must but they are technically not in my bag because they are in my ears! And finally there’s my purse, which I love. It’s Disaster Designs and has different patterns on each side. I bought it for my 25th birthday with some money I received.

I think not having to go out everyday has served this bag well. In my previous jobs my bag has been filled to the brim with junk, food and rubbish. Now I can pretend I’m clean and organised!

What’s in your bag?

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My Office Mood board

Though it’s a long way off from being finished – or even started for that matter – my office looks beautiful when I’m imagining it finished in my head. It’s going to be a slow burner this house so it’s all about settling in and then buying individual things as and when we can afford it. So for now, here’s my mood board for it.

I’m seeing shelves, lots of storage solutions since it’s a small room and the colours to be baby blue, black and white with gold accents. Since I’m a big fan of polkadots, there’s a pretty good chance that one of the walls will be reflecting this love of mine.

I promised myself that I could buy the shelves after I made enough to cover more than my half of the bills, which I’ve just about managed to do. So next month after I’ve been paid, I’m heading to IKEA. And of course that will go hand in hand with painting the room. Because I think it will be a lot easier to paint before rather than after I put the shelves up. So watch this space.

As I’ve mentioned, the furniture I’ve got in here isn’t that great but that’s not a priority so one day! Slow and steady. I just wish I wasn’t so impatient!

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