Finding Happiness: Leaving a Full Day Job to Become a Freelance Writer
I did it! I have just resigned from my full time, monthly salary job to become a Freelance Writer and to work for myself....
This wasn't an easy decision to make, nor was it one based on the sole impulse of diving straight into something that I think I'm slightly good at. No, I took my time, I spoke to people, I researched...I've been planning this since January 2012.
Why Did I Decide to Leave the Security of my Full Time Job?
I had already decided in January after my annual reflection of what I want out of life and where I see myself going (New Year's Resolutions some might call them), that I was no longer feeling fulfilled in my current job.
My job until the end of August 2012 is an HR and Accounts Administrator at an ISP(Internet Service Provider). In a nutshell, I handle all types of queries on client accounts (almost 2000 clients) - including recons, billing, payments, as well as internally being the HR Administrator for all staff queries or disciplinary matters, keeping records up to date and handling the company's payroll function.
In January 2012 I discovered HubPages and started writing hubs - it uplifted me, and it awoke something inside of me that had been dormant for the past 2 years. I didn't think I'd leave my job back then, I only knew that I wanted to pursue writing actively - even if it was only on the side.
I wasn't happy in my job - especially the issuing of warnings to staff and sitting in on disciplinary matters, as well as following up on debt collection and black listing clients for non payment. I thought that because I'd had some solid experience in the Recruitment industry, that HR was what I was meant to be doing with my life. There were definitely some parts to the job that I did enjoy: coming up with ways to motivate staff, promote a positive team environment and organize staff events. But, the opportunity to have these ideas approved and implemented were few and far between, and slowly but surely I became aware that being in HR was a lot more difficult than simply being there for the staff. You actually need to be able to switch between the roles of being a cold heartless (almost robotic) employee for the company, and being a caring and sympathetic colleague for staff in order for them to feel comfortable enough to speak to you.
After a few discussions, I went about my work as best I could but I just couldn't see myself doing the same thing a year from now. The stress was also taking its toll on me. I'd been to the doctor a few times for the impact it was having on my body, I'd skip lunch because I was "just too busy", and I'd work on Saturdays sometimes to simply "catch up". I simply decided to put my health and my relationship ahead of my job at that point - even if it meant taking a drastic salary cut.
My "Light bulb" Moment...
And then we went on holiday in April 2012. We took two weeks, and went on the most incredible journey into nature along the beautiful Garden Route on the South Eastern coast of South Africa. Those walks through the forest and on the beach, the lazy days of lying in the middle of nature and listening to the birds and to the water flowing, of looking up into the sky full of bright stars, of walking alongside elephants, of being with the man I love and feeling at peace - in those moments I truly realized just how short life is. Too short to spend 8 - 10 hours a day at a job that doesn't make you happy, and this one unfortunately wasn't. I started to think of where I wanted to be three years from then, that definitely didn't include sorting out accounting queries for clients!
Billybuc's Article on Freelance Writing...
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Yes, I've already had quite a bit of resistance and negative remarks to my choice of profession. I'll often be met with a lifted eyebrow and an "Oh", when asked what I'm going to be doing with my time. As if writing full day is a luxury career or a walk in the park. I don't think people understand just how difficult and competitive the world of writing is. I am taking a huge risk going into this field, but I'm doing it because I don't want to look back with regret on my life one day and wonder why I didn't just go for it.
I don't really care what other people think - they can say what they like, and think what they like. I have my own goals that I need to reach - I have my work cut out for me! It is certainly not child's play or an "easy career". No. But, it is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career that can be done from the comfort of my home office, or anywhere in the world. When I have children one day, I'll be home to look after them. That's another reason for this career choice. If we need to relocate one day because of my husband's job - we can pack up and go without me needing to worry about my job.
The only person's opinion that mattered with this decision was my husbands. I'll admit, I had to do my research properly in terms of a game-plan for income over the next few months. There are things that we have to sacrifice - I am giving up part of my independence, my car that we are selling - in order for me to follow my dream. He has always supported me in everything I do, and he is right behind me with my writing career. I can always count on him. If I didn't have his 100% support for this, I probably wouldn't have gone for it full time right now.
Research and Preparation
I don't proclaim to know everything there is to know about becoming a Freelance Writer, in fact, I have a lot still to learn about writing full time.
I have a plan of action for the upcoming months, and I have a goal that I want to reach by 1 January 2013. I'll probably add more here once I get closer to reaching that goal, but for now it's a work in progress.
I am currently working on exposing my personal blog, continuing to write articles on HubPages and other similar websites, and marketing myself as a freelance writer to various establishments and companies.
I've been working on this since April and what I've come to realize is that it's a long process. It's also something that I am not able to do for the rest of the year on a part time basis as I had initially planned. Some people might be able to do this after they get home from work in the evenings or on weekends, but I personally prefer to spend this quality and precious time with my family or friends, or just simply relaxing.
My Advice for Leaving a Full Time Job for your Dream
If you don't need to worry about money or think of anyone else but yourself - it's an easy decision to make. But, if you have other people relying on you for your part of the income and you are used to living with this income, you need to plan well ahead of time and do your research.
Here are a few tips I would recommend if you have the same passion and desire to follow your dream career that I have, but you're unsure of how to go about it:
- Find out as much as possible about your chosen career. Speak to people already in the industry, find out how they started out or what they would recommend that you do to get into the field.
- Research the need in the world for your skills in this particular field. There's no point in starting something that you love, when only a few people are going to buy your product or will be needing your services. (I learnt this the hard way with my home business a few years ago - I didn't plan properly and the business didn't last long). Make sure there is a need for your product or service first.
- Come up with a plan of action. Write down exactly what you want to be doing a year from now. How do you plan to get there? List your monthly goals, your weekly goals - even your daily goals if you need to. It's great to have the dream, but if you don't have the plan to achieve it - it's going to be just that - a pie in the sky dream, and not the reality that you're imagining.
- Find back-up source of income. You might be earning a great salary right now. When you stop working, that's going to fall away. Are you able to survive on one salary for a few months? Do you have something to sell that can tide you over in the beginning? Can you take on a part time job to earn some extra money while you live out your dream?
- Talk to your partner. Now that you have a plan of action, you've done your research and you have means for some sort of income during the time that your new career is taking off - it's time to have that conversation with your partner. Be open and honest, ask for their feedback and let them know that you are in this together. You need their support on this in order to follow your dream, but you also need to be realistic. Have a time-frame for meeting your goals, if it takes longer - have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is to cause stress and resentfulness in your relationship.
- Go for it! Once you have your partner's blessing - it's time for the second hardest meeting - resigning from your job. As you don't have a starting date with another company, you can be gracious and give your employer 1.5 or even 2 months notice so that they have ample time to find your replacement.
Melanie Chisnall is a freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa.
After years of writing on a part-time basis, and working in various industries throughout her career, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a full-time writer earlier in 2012. She's determined to prove that by sheer persistence, commitment to prove her success and an "I don't quit" attitude - that anything is possible!