In the last year, I’ve gone from freelancing my digital marketing and social media services to starting an online body jewellery store and training as a professional body piercer. When I tell people about my career change, they’re often a little shocked and confused. I’m not surprised – they are two wildly different careers after all, but for me it was the next logical step.
I’ve wanted to be a body piercer since I was 16. As a teenager, I was very passionate about piercings but at the young age of 16 I was not old enough to be trained.
This is where the career origin story most of my long-term followers know comes in. I went to 6th form, started a music blog, dropped out of 6th form and moved to London to study music business where I developed an apt for marketing. Since then I’ve worked for a range of music businesses both as my full time job and on a freelance basis. I enjoyed it, and for a while I didn’t have anything to do with piercings other than occasionally adding a few to my canvas.
However, last spring is when things started to change. As I’ve grown older, there’s been a greater need to become financially independent and this wasn’t going to be possible with my client base at the time. Most of the artists interested in working with me weren’t far off from my age, meaning they didn’t have a lot of disposable income to actually hire me with. Frustrated with being broke and keen to work, I started focussing on small businesses. After all, I had a good handful within my network and they were more likely to have a bigger budget. I’d worked with a few before, but this was about changing my whole target audience. I adjusted my marketing efforts and re-wrote articles I’d written about music marketing to apply the information to businesses.
For a while it seemed like this plan would work. I got more clients with bigger budgets, but the problem was there was no consistency. Start-ups would put money aside for a month’s work and wouldn’t be able to continue afterwards because they hadn’t fully set up their revenue streams beforehand, or they’d take me on in the run up to their launch and never actually launch. The last straw for me was a late payment and the completely unprofessional manner a client of mine dealt with it in. You see, I rarely invoice clients and tend to request money upfront and this is exactly why. I took a chance on a client due to mutual connections, She paid half upfront and when the rest of the payment was due she gave me very little notice that she didn’t have it. She’d known the due date for the second payment was coming for over a month. I was very frustrated, but gave her a chance and rescheduled the payment. It didn’t arrive. When you’re 21 and living in London, not getting money you’re owed (even just the couple of hundred this was) will fuck your life up. I added a late payment fee (something freelancers are entitled to by law) and a few months later received the remaining balance without the fee. I had two options: Hold onto the frustration and go after what I was rightfully owed (an extra £40) or move on.
Meanwhile, while waiting for the late payment, I looked into other revenue streams. A close friend of mine was selling his old games on eBay to make some extra cash. After some success, he suggested I sell something I knew a lot about. At first I couldn’t think of what to sell, but then it hit me: body jewellery. I’m not even sure why that came to mind if I’m honest as I hadn’t gotten a piercing in over a year, but it did.
I bought a variety of jewellery in small quantities and created an online store. I did try selling on eBay, but found I had more success using my own website so decided not to bother and avoid the eBay fees. Not long after, I decided to re-visit my dream of becoming a body piercer. I trained as soon as I moved into my new place. I was still marketing on the side, but I guess you could say I’d become disheartened. I love marketing, but nothing comes above my passion for piercings. Once trained, I started working in studios and I’ve been doing so ever since as well as selling jewellery and creating content for my piercing-focused YouTube channel on the side.
Admittedly, when I went self-employed at the age of 20 I probably wasn’t ready, so it’s not surprising that a year later I was struggling to get from month to month even after targeting clients with larger budgets. The financial stress this put on me definitely contributed to the decline in joy and satisfaction I got from working. That said, it can’t be ignored that marketing never truly was my main passion, and I am a lot happier now I’m piercing. However, I’ve not given up on marketing as I love the mental stimulation it brings. I’ve helped with marketing and digital sides of things for several studios I’ve worked in and continue to offer my digital services to businesses – I’m just a lot more fussy about who I take on (and I can be now it’s not my main source of income). As for writing, I shut down Eat More Cake. I still write from time to time and I’m trying to make more time for it. Like right now for instance. Watch this space!
It always amazes me to think that I actually ended up doing my dream career from my younger years and the way things fell into place to lead me to this path. Without sounding cheesy, it’s brought me some kind of peace.
Whether you’re here for my marketing or piercing, I hope you stick around to see how things go. I’ve been piercing for just under a year now and I can’t wait to progress and get more experience until I’m ready to open my own studio and apply my marketing knowledge there.
Do you want to make a career change? Did you skip out on a childhood dream? Comment below!