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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2016 Goals

Happy New Year! It’s one of my favourite days of the year. The first of January. It’s always filled with hope and promise and even though it’s totally cliche, I love making new years resolutions. 2015 is in the past now and I did horribly with my goals I made a year ago but it’s going to be different now. There’s a lot of challenges that face me this year and I plan on tackling them head on. So without further delay, here are my 2016 goals.

Target weight – Get to it slimmingworld This will be the year. I feel like I’ve finally got the focus I had back when I first joined in 2013 and I plan on losing as much weight as I did then. Luckily I didn’t put it all back on so I’m not at square one but I do still have a way to go before getting to the healthiest weight for me. So this is how I’m going to do it.

  • Follow the Slimming World plan to a T.
  • Keep trying new recipes and snacks to keep from getting bored.
  • Go to group and stay every week.

London to Brighton Trek for British Heart Foundation – Complete it walingboots For those who have followed for awhile, you’ll remember when Topher and I attempted this in 2014. If not, see here. We got to 33 miles out of 64 and had to drop out due to the amount of blisters I ended up with on my feet. We couldn’t sign up again last year due to Topher’s hernia and I really want to finish it this time. Especially since his step dad passed away in November due to heart failure. I’m all the more determined. We made so many mistakes last time which I’ll go into this month in an upcoming blog post and we’re going to put them right this year and raise more money for the charity. So in order to do this, the plan is:

  • Get the right equipment.
  • Train every week.
  • Make myself accountable.

Self employed business – make enough each month to live (ie. pay my contribution to expenses and food) business Since I was made redundant last month and finished just before Christmas, I have been making plans to give being self employed a real go. I’m really not an office person and it affected my health last year so I really want to carve out my own career, my way. My first goal is to make enough money to pay my contribution to bills and expenses. Here’s how I’m going to do it.

  • Create multiple income streams.
  • Build up my freelance brand – make new product and stick to social media schedule.
  • Apply to things I never thought I would get. Put myself out there. I’ve been inspired by Tiffany Han’s 100 rejection letters.
  • Sell stuff cluttering up my house – including stock from my old vintage and jewellery shop.

De-clutter house and De-clutter life kikkikplanner Now that we have a house to move into this year, I want to make it a home. I don’t want to be dragging along a load of crap I’ve been dragging around just for the sake of it. That and I want to become more of a responsible adult *snorts. But it’s true. I love organisation but I seriously need to practise what I preach. So in order to do this I’ve got to do the following:

  • Continue with the alerts I’ve been setting up on my phone in advance like take car for MOT, Cats need their booster vacs etc.
  • Purge/Sell old possessions I don’t want/use any more.
  • Set up systems for everything
  • Make new house beautiful and keep it tidy.

So those are my four goals. Simple but I really believe in them and they need to be done. Bring it on 2016, let’s make this the best year ever! thisismyyear Do you make new years resolutions? 

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2015 in review


So now comes the close of another year and therefore its time to look back and reflect. Its amazing how much you forget happened over the year so I find doing this quite therapeutic. Putting the year to bed allows me to look ahead and concentrate on what’s to come. So here’s what happened to me this year.


Starting the New Year in Florida at what appears to practically be our second home. Obligatory fireworks of course. This was the month where we adopted our beloved fur babies Pickles (tabby shorthair) and Luna (black shorthair) and chaos ensued! Other events included Thomson’s Vegas night and getting stuck in a hell of a lot of snow. The 10 minute commute to work turning into 2 hours. I now know how to drive on ice!


Another chilly month that I spent the majority of being unable to move due to Pickles and Luna taking turns sitting on my chest. And sometimes they shared. Topher and I celebrated the holidays – Pancake day and Valentines Day respectively. Unusually we actually did something for V-day this year – mainly due to Waitrose having a rather nice meal offer on! Other points of note – Topher became a part time model *snorts and I attended a blogger meet up in the Northern Quarter.



In March I visited Moose’s and Ziferblat which I need to revisit sometime soon. I also failed taking decent photos of the lunar eclipse and earned my first cold in 5 years after going on a work night out. Do not share a giant bucket of booze where the straws all look the same…ergh. And finally I had an adventure in the land of Costco where I came home with the largest slab of cheese I’ve ever purchased. Crazy times.



Lots of cat antics this month. Luna learned to climb the curtains so we got them a cat tree to climb instead. They both discovered the wondrous world of bags and we celebrated Easter with chocolate bunnies from Lindor. I also took part in the bloggers market to destash some of my stuff. Mission accomplished.



May brought the sunshine that we especially enjoyed on the first bank holiday weekend that we were doing a car boot at a church. It also brought the Blog on Mosi conference that I attended. Interesting experience but it was very mummy blogger targeted which obviously I am not – did learn a thing or two though. Voting day came and went and I did my bit. Topher took me to Hale on a date night where we had some pretty damn tasty chicken wings! And of course a highlight of the month was Eurovision. We went all out, making bunting and themed food and cocktails which our friends really appreciated. And Pickles appeared to enjoy it too!



I attended my first rugby match with the girls from work and we attempted to follow the game! Luna developed a love for stealing food and I attended a blog event at the end of the month where there was chat and interesting pizza. Of course June is my birthday month which ended up being the weirdest birthday ever in which Topher had surgery and I had a burrito with his mum.



July was mainly dominated by my annual trip to Jordan where I managed to pack for 10 days using only hand luggage. Winning. This was also a tough month in the run up to my holiday for my mental health. Due to a combination of a trapped nerve and repetitive strain, I have been having a lot of problems with my hands, arms and shoulders this year and this was the month that I experienced a bout of anxiety about it. Panic attacks at work and horrible pain in my shoulder and neck made me so thankful for my holiday where I could get some rest. This was also the month I finally got my hands on some watercolours and there was no stopping me. Why didn’t I do this years ago? In other news, the kittens discovered the printer.



I don’t know what it is about August 1st but everyone seems to have a birthday on it. We went to two parties in one day on the first of the month. As well as going on a blogger photography class with 3, this was also known as the month of anticipation and preparation for my friends and I’s upcoming trip to Florida. The tickets arrived!



While we waited for our holiday to begin at the end of the month, I kept busy. Learned a new curry recipe courtesy of the latest Slimming World magazine. Beef curry, turmeric rice and mint yoghurt. Divine! I also travelled down to Milton Keynes to visit my cousin as well as having her and my brother come and stay with me in Manchester where we all managed to forget we were wearing bowling shoes. Well, a family that wears bowling shoes together and all that! And of course there was painting.



Now where do I start with this month? I think this was definitely the best month by far. A holiday of a lifetime where I got engaged to the love of my life, seeing Bill Bailey for the third time and managing to squeeze in a spot of afternoon tea! Also, I drove in America for the second time in the biggest car I have ever driven – a seven seater. And it all went fine! The trip was a complete success and everyone had a great time. Click here to see the music video I made of the trip.



Now of course when there are ups, there are sure to be downs – such is life. This month we lost Topher’s 49 year old step dad to heart disease. Words cannot describe how bad I feel for his wife, sons, family and friends. A month later it is still raw for many, but fingers crossed 2016 comes better times. Other things that happened this month were that Topher and I rejoined Slimming World, we visited the Christmas markets and got an offer accepted on a house. Paperwork is currently going through but it all looks good and we hope to be in by Spring 2016.



The final month of the year saw lots of holiday parties and birthday parties of course. I had my work do where I got dolled up and Topher had his birthday where practically everyone turned up over the course of a day in town. I had a day down in London to see some family including my cousin who I hadn’t seen for almost two years and by some miracle Topher and I still managed to lose weight. I got my half stone award and Topher got his stone award. Our tree went up, then down after the cats tried to eat it and at work I was made redundant. All I can say about the redundancy is that it was a relief after all the trouble I’ve been having with my health because of it. I need to find something different now. In other news, after some dithering, I decided to take my mum up on the offer to drive me and the cats home for Christmas. Once they were in the car it was surprisingly easy!

So that was my year. Hectic at times and lots of milestones and non milestones reached but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Goodbye 2015, happy new year and here’s to 2016. I will be celebrating with Topher at a friends house party. Hope you have a good night!

See my recaps of 2014, 2013 and 2012.

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Yet another life update

It feels like all I’m writing on this blog is posts like this at the moment. So as well as trying to buy a house, plan a wedding and deal with the loss of someone, I have another bit of news. I am being made redundant. However, I’m not freaking out about it. I’m getting paid for January and my last day is 23rd December. So I’m pretty much getting a month of free wages. I’m actually looking forward to January and I seriously need a break. I’m tired, my body is agreeing and I just want a change.

Once again I put myself in the situation of being in a job I don’t enjoy and I seriously want to get it right next time. I’m going to take my time finding something good and in the meantime I’m going to attempt freelancing. So I’ll be making a couple of additions around here to advertise my skills for hire. Wish me luck. Regular posting will commence for December!

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#BEDM Day 20: Role Models


My dream is to one day work for myself. So any role model I have at this point in my life is a badass woman who has her own business. There are so many of these people out there and it’s amazing what they have proved is possible.

They have taught me that you can do anything you want as long as you believe in yourself and put the work in. You can moan about your day job all you want but if you’re not willing to get up and start something then what’s the point?

Call me a dreamer but I’m going to keep working until I fail. Then when I do, I’m going to get up and keep working again. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was 15 and I will keep going until I succeed at something. Otherwise I’m just another zombie at a job that doesn’t fill them with joy.

So thank you to all my role models for paving the way for people like me.

Bring it on.

Who are your role models? What have they inspired you to do in your life?

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