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Writer who built new business in lockdown is 'hopeful' for the year ahead

Jess Bacon, from Peterborough, saw her career take off during lockdown, allowing her to realise her dream of quitting her full-time job and working for herself.
Jess Bacon
Jess Bacon saw her freelance career take off during lockdown

After spending years dreaming of going freelance, the 23-year-old made it a key point in her five-year-plan, but was able to make that happen sooner than expected.

Since lockdown was first introduced in March 2020, Jess has created income streams through Instagram, content writing, social media consultancy and many others – she was also shortlisted for innovator of the year at Athene Communications, alongside Peterborough Matters.

Speaking on her experience, Jess said: "I started blogging when I was around 17 and in Sixth Form, I started sharing my experience of losing my dad to cancer. I kept working on it during university, talking about my life and then when I left I got really into it and it got me into my first job in journalism.

"Last year I started freelance writing after working as an editor for a few years on different publications and then during lockdown it has just taken off massively. It went from being something like a side project for enjoyment to being something that I am really passionate about.

"It started to bring in some income and then I diversified my income streams and started doing social media consultancy for brands and businesses – that has just taken off during the last seven or eight months."

Jess explained that it was always a dream to take it full time, but thought it was far off, adding: "It feels very surreal to be at this point already". 

She added: "I love writing about mental health, grief and anything that breaks down taboos with women’s issues or stigma around mental health. I think it’s important to discuss it, especially as a young person, I think it’s very overlooked."

Speaking on her growth, Jess explained that she wanted to drive more people to her blog during lockdown, so she made the decision to grow her Instagram following too. 

She said: "In March, I had 2,000 followers and I had that for a while, but then I thought one of the best ways on driving traffic to my blog was to have a good social media account. So I focused on growing my social media and that did happen which was amazing.

"The Instagram growth was insane, more people were on their phones and what I was saying was really resonating with people especially around body confidence. It took off and I hit 10,000 followers quite  quickly, and within six weeks I had 20,000 – it's been crazy.

"I think people are looking for a slice of reality now and I try to do that by being as open and honest as possible. That will be a big part of my income now going forward."

Despite all of her achievements, Jess still aims to outdo herself in 2021, with dreams to send off book proposals this year. She said: "I’ve got a fiction and a non-fiction ready to go. I started my fiction book on my masters in creative writing in 2020, so it’s just turning that into a proposal and my non-fiction is an extension of my podcast. It would be amazing to be published.

"There will be a second series of my podcast, the guide to life after university, to talk about issues affecting young people and young adults. I think there’s an expectation that life falls into place and in my experience that just isn’t the case. Things fall apart and come together. We have lots of conversations with industry experts too and graduates who want to share their experience of being a young person."

Jess details all of her life on her blog, and the podcast is also available on her website too.