Freelancing and family: how a mother of one found herself as a Young Freelancer of the Year finalist

March 12, 2019

How freelancing for her family changed the course of Leah Layzell's career and helped her become one of the IPSE's Young Freelancer of the Year finalists 

© Nisha Haq Photography

After having our first child at 20, it was a struggle for me to get back into flexible work. Although I was offered the opportunity to transition from a full-time to a part-time role within my current employer, it proved extremely difficult to juggle childcare and working life.


I looked into all the home-working opportunities out there, but in the end I decided to take the leap into self-employment as a freelance Virtual Assistant (VA). My first work was offering virtual administrative services to business owners. It made sense because it fitted my skills and experience at the time, but before long I found it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. 



© Nisha Haq Photography

Instead I started exploring my passion for design. I already had some self-taught design skills, but I started taking a lot of training to build on that. Soon I was actually designing for clients and even branching out into development and technical support, as well as branding and graphic design.


Being able to set the rules of my working life was a huge plus for me – especially with a child in-tow (soon to be two children!). It allows me to spend quality time with my family, as well as help my clients and do the work I love. I’ve been able to watch my daughter grow and help her with her learning.


Last year, I applied for the IPSE Young Freelancer of the Year Award. One of my VA mentors had applied for the awards some time ago and had been telling anyone and everyone in her network all about it. So I took a look at the awards – and IPSE and their mission – and thought it would be a great thing to apply for.


During the application process, I had no confidence that I would be selected, but just the experience of writing down exactly what I did was eye-opening and gave me clarity about my business. If you’re thinking about applying, I would say go for it – even just for the process of filling out the application form!


© Nisha Haq Photography


Juggling a business and a family can be a struggle at the best of times, but being a Young Freelancer of the Year finalist has given me the confidence to keep pursuing my goals. I have met so many inspiring people since the awards, and have even worked with some of my fellow finalists. It was a huge boost for my confidence in my business and really helped me overcome my impostor syndrome! It didn’t stop with the awards either: I’ve been working closely with IPSE since as a speaker and panellist, and that has been massively rewarding too!


How to apply

For more information and to apply for one of our individual awards visit our awards page.


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