Hey there! It’s been a while. This blog sadly tends to be the thing that falls by the wayside when things get busy, although I feel like now I’m doing a better job of juggling so I hopefully won’t go another whole month without posting (whoops.)
Today’s post has been a long time coming and I don’t have a snappy SEO-friendly title to use for it. As you probably know, I quit my full-time corporate job back in April to pursue freelancing full-time. What you might not know is that I’m currently applying for part-time jobs. That’s right, I’m giving up ~the dream~ to dive back into the working world, at least partially.
Why? Well, to be honest the freelancing thing was never meant to be permanent (although I certainly wouldn’t have said no if it turned out to be super profitable.) I needed to freelance over the summer because I had a lot of fun travel planned and no vacation time left at my old job with which to do it. Not to mention it was time to move on from that job anyway, so it seemed like the best idea to quit, freelance for a while, then see where we stood once the travel was over.
In this community, there’s SO much pressure to quit your day job and follow your passion/travel the world/embrace true freedom/whatever. I’ve always been against this idea because, as someone who’s had to struggle to get by, it’s frankly irresponsible to suggest that everyone’s goal should be to quit their main source of income for a big fat unknown. It’s not a trust fall into the Universe, it’s giving up your paycheck on a lark, and if you have a family or debt or even just bills to pay, I promise you the Universe is not just going to suddenly start footing the bill because it sees how much you hate your day job.
Freelancing for the past five months was so incredibly rewarding and also so, so incredibly hard. I wanted to share my candid thoughts on my summer of freelancing as it comes to a close. Note that this is just my experience – it obviously looks different for everyone! I’ll be talking a lot about money because I’m keeping it real here, so sorry if that’s uncomfortable for you – I really want to be as honest as possible. This is going to be a LONG post, so let’s jump right in!
it takes privilege to be able to leave your job.
I can’t stress this enough. What so many blog posts about how to “live the dream” fail to realize is that many people CANNOT just up and quit their jobs. I was in a situation where I could save up an emergency fund, I had no children or dependents to care for, and I had supportive parents and a partner to help me pay the bills, and I STILL struggled after losing my main source of income. It’s not a matter of keeping an “abundance mindset.” This is real life and some problems can’t be wished away by positive thinking alone.
It’s so frustrating to me to see blog posts that preach “don’t do anything you don’t want to do! you only have one life! the Universe will lead you to something better!” That might be true, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that the Universe rewards those who work for what they want, and it’s awfully hard work on your dream when you’re stressing about paying the rent. If you’re not in a position to quit your day job, don’t let those blogs make you feel like you’re not “living your best life.” I promise that your best life does NOT look like going into credit card debt over buying the cheapest groceries available.
If you do want to quit your job someday, I 100% believe you can do it. But don’t just up and leave without a backup plan because the Internet says that’s the way to higher vibes. Do it on YOUR terms, when it’s right for YOU.
you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing
If I had a nickel for every blog/website/whatever I’ve read that says freelancers HAVE to have their own website and HAVE to blog regularly and HAVE to be on every social media site ever, I’d have more money than actual freelancing ever made me.
The truth? Thinking about having ANOTHER blog/social media presence makes me wanna vom, so I didn’t do it. I went out to the job boards with nothing but a few writing samples and it was never a dealbreaker. Given, I was not applying for the types of writing jobs that would nab me a byline on a prestigious website (or even a byline at all), but I was still able to land paying jobs without a website or any social media dedicated to my freelancing at all. If the thought of making a website makes you panic, don’t do it. If you can’t decide on one niche, don’t do it. You can always figure it out later if you want to.
it’s a constant struggle
As a freelancer, you can’t take anything for granted. You might have more work than you can finish one week and crickets the next. There’s probably a better way to balance all of that and it’s easier if you have regular clients, but you still can’t take that for granted. I was making a consistent $400 a week from one writing job… for four weeks, and it’s been about $150 for the two months since then. Even a regular client can suddenly drop you with no warning or reason.
You’ve got to constantly be seeking out new jobs in order to find enough work to get by and hopefully get paid enough for it. It can be exhausting, but I recommend coming up with a solid cover letter template so you can get through a lot of applications quickly. It’s never comfortable, but that’s also part of the fun!
that said, finding jobs isn’t as hard as people make it sound
As mentioned above, the Internet really makes it sound like you’ll never make it as a freelancer unless you do X, Y, and Z (usually blogging, networking, and social media.) I honestly found that it was super easy to get started finding freelance jobs. NOW, these were not the high-paying, $1000 an article jobs that some people making a living off of, but there ARE jobs out there that pay a decent amount that don’t require you to have years of experience or a million social media followers. Once you have a few jobs under your belt, you can use those to apply for better jobs.
You don’t need to stick to one niche, especially not at first, and you don’t even have to have published writing samples in many cases. Just see what tickles your fancy and use any existing writing samples to apply, or write one especially for the job application! Honestly, I had 0 freelancing experience and I managed to find LOTS of work this summer (not enough to pay the bills, but way more than I expected!) You can do it, too!
I feel like so many people dream about freelancing but never try because they’re intimidated. Just jump in! A lot of jobs are either one-offs or not very demanding, so you can totally start building your portfolio while working your day job. Give it a shot and see what works for you!
not having a routine is not always good
Part of the appeal of freelancing for me was breaking out of the 9-5 grind and being able to do WHATEVER I wanted, WHENEVER I wanted! Yeah!! Well… it didn’t really turn out that way. It turns out having more time doesn’t mean you’re going to get more done, and having a routine is surprisingly essential for me to stay on track and be productive. My freelancing routine looks a lot different than my corporate job routine, but it’s still a routine and it still involves working for at least 8 hours a day (honestly closer to 10).
There were still hobbies I didn’t get to, my mornings weren’t full of sunshine and yoga (more like coffee and forgetting to shower until 2 pm), and not having a full-time job to “keep me down” didn’t magically transform my circumstances into my dream life. You still have to work to make that for yourself.
you really need multiple sources of income
Honestly. My freelancing alone probably only managed to nab me about $600-700 a month, and there were plenty of dry spells where I didn’t make any money for a while week. I’d sort of planned on doing an income report but it made me depressed, so instead I’ll just list my sources of income, in order of what supports me most to least:
- Freelance writing
- Course sales from the Lavender and Lupine School of Magick
- Young Living (you can view their income disclosure statement here! and if you have any questions about how I’m building my Young Living business, feel free to shoot me an email.)
- Tarot Readings
- Residual income from Amazon Affiliates
So it’s a good idea of branch out if you can and not rely 100% on freelancing to pay the bills, at least not at first. It took me a long time to navigate the freelance world and find a level of work that I could accomplish while still having time to do other things, and I’m grateful I had these other sources of income to support me while I did.
you might end up being super broke
I realize that this is a very privileged realization to have this late in my life and I’m very grateful that I grew up without ever having to struggle to keep a roof over my head or food in my stomach. The last thing I would ever want is to come off as a spoiled white girl who never fell on hard times before – that’s truly not it, and I’m not whining about my current financial situation. I just want to communicate to anyone dreaming of quitting their day job to travel the world or whatever that poverty could very easily become a part of your freelancing world.
Like, so easily. I went from making $40k a year to less than $1000 a month in an instant. I thought I’d saved up enough of a nest egg to hold me over until I had more jobs, but the REALLY profitable jobs never came and some weeks I couldn’t find any work at all. I had to put off paying the electric so I could buy groceries. I’m three payments behind on my already-massive credit card bill. I’m taking the necessary steps to get out of this situation and I’m very fortunate that I have the experience and opportunity necessary to find a new job now that I need one, but many people aren’t that lucky, and that’s something to consider before you quit your job. If it happened to me, it could happen to anyone.
Now, my situation is completely on me. I’m not blaming freelancing for making me poor. I knew it would be tough, but I really didn’t take enough precautions before I left my job and I probably could have tried harder to find higher-paying freelancing work. But I promise you that I did the manifestation meditations and burned the green candle and made gratitude lists and did the abundance rituals and while that all helped, the Universe did not magically grant me a check to get me out of debt.
Some people will probably say that my fault for not thinking enough good thoughts to attract all the abundance I need, but I’m honestly not on that bandwagon. Life is hard and bad things happen to everyone, even people who live on green smoothies and high vibes. It’s important that you don’t go into freelancing thinking that all your problems will be solved just because you’re “on the right path.” (Note: I didn’t think that. I just want to make sure YOU don’t think that.)
but all in all, the freedom is really, really nice.
Was it amazing to stay up at late as I wanted and wake up whenever I wasn’t tired anymore? HECK yes. It was refreshing to drop everything to go camping in the middle of the week. I felt super posh doing my assignments from the beaches of North Carolina on vacation. I didn’t have to ask for time off to go to the doctor, I got to the grocery store before the dinner rush, I could take a four-hour break in the middle of the day to watch the North and South BBC miniseries if I wanted to (it happened once.) As hard as freelancing was and still is, as much as I sometimes missed having a regular paycheck, it was also everything I wanted it to be and more.
Would I freelance again? In a heartbeat, and I probably will once my partner and I move on to the next stage of our lives (exciting changes to come in 2018, stay tuned! it’s not a baby though, sorry.) But this time I’ll be sure I take all of the necessary precautions before I do it, and hopefully – hopefully! – I’ll pay off my credit card before then. Because yikes.
Do you have any questions about freelancing? I’m obviously not an expert, but I might do a post in the future about how I got started because that’s something people ask me a lot. Do you have any advice for freelancers? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear it!