Inspiring Figures is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people you should really know about. You can catch-up with last month’s Inspiring Figures features to celebrate Women’s History Month with Jennifer Opal and Ishan Beri here and here.
Each feature first took place live on Instagram and I’d like to say a huge thank you once again to everyone that joined in!
THIS MONTH FEATURES, SHEHLA
Shehla and I actually first met at a networking event in Sheffield whilst I was in my final year of university. Since that first event, we ended up seeing each other at other tech or blogger event.
You might also remember her from the post I wrote last year about my first blogger event at 200 degrees.
I’ve been particularly inspired by Shehla’s work around photography, travelling and social media consultation. I have expressed this in the past, but travelling solo is something I want to explore one day. Seeing Shehla do this as her day-to-day life certainly inspired and motivated me to do it!
🌟 The journey into freelancing
It hasn’t been easy!
After completing a degree in journalism, Shehla shared that she had always thought that there would just be a job waiting for her after University.
But this isn’t always the case! She ended up being unemployed for a year and a half, but during that time spent a lot of time volunteering until she secured her first role at a small agency. After that, she secured other jobs until she was made redundant.
It hadn’t been a smooth ride since graduating but she persisted. Around this time, she had nearly bought a house, but decided to not follow that conventional path anymore. So she packed her bags, and went off to travel for 5 months which was one of the best experiences of her life.
When she returned from travelling, she started her own business and secured a contract to teach with Google. Shehla is now a freelance digital marketer, social media consultant and aerial photographer (specifically drone photography!) She has also contributed to STA Travel blog in the past to share her tips and advice of travelling. It’s amazing how you can truly turn your life around with grit and persistence – Shehla is a fantastic example of this!
🤔 Thinking about if you should go freelance?
We discussed about how going freelance and starting up your own business is something that is slowly growing. When Shehla was deciding whether or not to go freelance, she weighed up the pros and cons. Hopefully this is helpful for anyone considering it now or for the future.
- More control of time – literally can work any hours that you want
- More control of what you can do – you can truly focus on your passions, to the point that sometimes it doesn’t feel like work!
- You can work from anywhere, which means that you can travel and see the world as well as work!
- Sometimes there is a lot of chasing invoices, because sometimes people don’t pay on time. This can be difficult because of there is a constant expense, but not a stable income
- You are responsible for everything – you can’t just call a team meeting! This can get overwhelming at times, especially if it’s only you doing different jobs.
Shehla also shared some of her advice in starting out:
- Build up a portfolio!
- Attend networking events – this is key! Building up your contacts can lead to potential work and a support network which you need sometimes when you work for yourself.
- Make use of your existing contacts! Make sure your family, your neighbours etc know what you do – recommendations start here. ✨
💖 The importance of having a community
When you are working for yourself, it can get quite lonely. Having other people that understand what you do, appreciate what you do and support you is so important. Shehla has attended quite a few events in Sheffield and is part of communities such as Sheffield Women in Tech (@ShfWit)
“It is nice to share experiences with others who understand what I’ve been through.” Shehla shared her experience of not being taken seriously when she was buying drone batteries. It is frustrations like these, that can make it difficult to continue at times but having that support network can massively help. In addition, you learn so much from others that may be able to help you with your own business or projects!
🗺 36 🌍 7 Continents
It is no secret that Shehla travels a lot. Recently, she visited Chile for mentoring and coaching opportunities and Antartica.
When asked about which has been her favourite trip, Shehla’s first answer was Antartica – “the best 2 weeks of my life, no internet, penguins outside. It was amazing!” The other place was Fiji where she spent nights stargazing. How dreamy.
She described how travelling has had such an impact on her. “Every place I’ve ever been to has taught me so much and given me the chance to remove some misconceptions of certain places.” Shehla credits the times she’s travelled alone as one of the confidence boosters that helped her launch her business. “If I can do this, what else can I do?” 🙌🏻
✈️ On being a solo-traveller
Shehla mostly travels alone. But it hadn’t always been like this, she used to hate travelling alone e.g. with trains to London! Being scared of travelling even on the bus myself in the past, I totally felt this.
“Make a list of what is worrying you. You might realise that they weren’t anything to worry about!”
Although Shehla is a solo traveller, along her journey she met a lot of fellow travellers and found through her travels that she wasn’t really by herself. There are so many people around you all the time! “If you’re really worried about being alone, book a day tour and go meet people.”
There are so many benefits of travelling alone, but one of the main cons of travelling are…dun, dun, dun… the photos. Shehla hilariously shared her stories of people taking terrible photos of her at iconic places. For example, at the Great Wall of China someone took a photo of her knee 😂 You can find more of these bad photos on her Instagram Story Highlights – it is quite funny but highlights the struggles. 🤣
Shehla reminds us that there is no right or wrong way to travel – do whatever works for you! If that’s luxury, or hostel-life then you do you and happy travels 👋🏻
CATCH UP ON OUR CHAT ON YOUTUBE
You can catch-up with our conversation on YouTube below! A huge thank you again as usual to Clark Narvas for putting these together.
You can find Shehla on Instagram, Twitter and check out her website! Our chat left me feeling inspired by how travel can have a transformative effect on you as a person – self-development gold if you ask me! Shehla truly is an Inspiring Figure.