Nine years ago I embarked on my freelance career. I started off as a commercial photographer and my services have expanded into writing and offering courses in photography and writing, for enthusiasts and businesses. I provide all this through my business Aberrant Perspectives.
As a freelancer and a single mum, this has worked out really well. I have been able to work flexibly around my children, part time, whilst earning enough to pay my bills and keep food on the table for the children.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic, forced a national lockdown, which has shut my career down and left me without any income for the foreseeable future. I've lost 18 months worth of work and I don't even have a return to work date, or any hope of that happening soon. If that's not bad enough, a technical error means I've lost my entire website, and my only source of income that provides for my children.
My story so far.
I started off in this industry nine years ago. At the time I was a homeless single mum and recently unemployed due to government cut backs leading to a redundancy. But instead of giving up, I worked hard to turn my photography hobby into a career and established myself as a live entertainment and commercial photographer.
Over the years I've had the privilege of working with household names and worked in places that are a far cry from a 'normal job'. I've been truly lucky that my skills in photography and writing have meant I've been able to work flexibly to provide for my children. I was also able to share my skills through lessons in photography and writing and help others enter the industry.
It was all going well and this year I was set to grow my business into a full time job, but then Covid-19 hit.
The national lockdown has left me with no income and I've received very little help from our government's schemes. In fact Universal Credit's bonkers calculations leaves me £58 per week worse off. The bounce back loans aren't something I'm eligible for as my business bank aren't a provider and I can't seem to switch it to a bank who is a provider of the scheme as they're all overwhelmed. The SEISS scheme is flawed, it averaged out over three years, two of which weren't great leaving me eligible for less than £800.
It's a common misconception that everyone who works in entertainment earns huge amounts of money. Unfortunately I work on the wrong side of the curtain, so the high rolling pay days don't come my way. This is the case for a lot of freelancers in the industry.
Right now, it's beyond heartbreaking to know that 4 months ago I was able to afford fresh food and now I'd be lucky if I can afford a weeks worth of basic food for me and my two boys. In short, throughout this pandemic I've been skipping meals so my children can have a full meal. I'm trying to lessen the impact this is having on them and protect them from any potential impacts this could have on their health in the future.
Why not just get a temporary job?
The pandemic poses a significant risk to my son's health, he's in a high risk group. Which means I can't get any sort of childcare, it's not safe for my son. My priority is my children's health, so I can't go and get a job elsewhere, until this is over.
Never the less, I've worked hard to take my business online, like all freelancers I'm resilient and determined. This started to become hopeful when I'd added some online courses to my website, some prints and some help guides. However, with the increase of things on my website and the software needed to power their sales, I was encouraged to change severs to give my website enough power to run at an acceptable speed. Everyone hates a slow website, and I was losing views due to how bad it got. So I agreed to make the switch and started to make the changes required.
Unfortunately the worst thing imaginable happened. During the transfer and backups something went wrong and my website content was lost during a technical error.
Why is a website so important?
My entire career was displayed in the portfolio of my website, years worth of my interviews, features and blogs all vanished. A website in my industry, works like a visual CV, it's a place for new clients and contacts to see what results I deliver, the skills that I have and confirms that I'm qualified in what I do and that my work is high quality.
Google liked it because it proved to it's algorithm that I'm good at what I do and therefore I should appear in their searches, which leads to new business. It offered a place for customers to purchase my services, my prints and my courses, or access free guides to help small businesses and photography enthusiasts.
But in the blink of an eye, my entire website content has gone. Any chance of future proofing my business and my income has disappeared with it.
I've looked up several freelancers and companies to help me fix this issue. But I'm looking at a minimum cost of £1000. With a more realistic quote of £4000 upwards to rebuild the website, make it google friendly again and to replace some of the lost content.
Proper webdesign is something that's beyond my capabilities, especially with the technical things that my website needs now. As you can probably guess, in 2020 a website is a vital element to any business, especially during the pandemic.
To say I'm devastated, is an understatement. The only source of income I had and the only hope of future proofing my business has gone.
They say bad luck comes in threes.
For me this is beyond three strokes of bad luck.
I've lost 18 months worth of work, due to the pandemic causing so many cancellations. My website has gone and so has my income. You'd think that was enough for anyone to cope with along with the lack of government support. But it gets worse.
It's that wonderful time of year again, a staple on every parent's calendar with a timeframe dictated by supermarket, school uniform shopping. Along side that, my children have birthdays either side of the back to school date. Given everything that's gone on I can barely afford food, let alone an eye watering £500 school uniform bill. my son's high school mandatory uniform, is £150 alone. They've kindly redesigned large portion of it which means I have to buy it all, so he fits school policy and avoids detentions for circumstances beyond his control. They've both had a growth spurt throughout summer, which means the uniform they have doesn't fit so I'm having to buy a whole set of uniform, plus shoes and PE trainers each this year.
That is before I think about buying two lots of birthday presents.
How can you help?
I'm here asking for support and kindness. I'm in a state of desperation and struggling in circumstances beyond my control. A situation that is currently irreparable without financial backing.
The bills I'm desperately needing to raise fund for are:
- £500 school uniform.
- £100 - £200 for birthday presents. (This includes clothes for them to wear over the next year and a toy/gift of some sort).
- £2000 - £4000 website redesign. (This will enable me to retain and future proof my business. Leaving me able to pay for my children's needs once again.)
My ideal target is really £3000-£5000. But I've had to set the limit for this as low as possible, because it will make a difference. When you set a target and don't reach it, you won't receive the funds.
Anything you can donate would be gratefully received, I will ensure that any funds raised are used to provide for my children's needs first.