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How to Escape Your Dead End Job and Become Self-Sufficient.

Updated on July 25, 2017
ChristinS profile image

Christin has been successfully self-employed for over 17 years. Her passion is helping others hone their skills and find good opportunities.

Empowered Employment - Take control of your own career path.
Empowered Employment - Take control of your own career path.

Do you ever experience the gnawing ache of despair as you prepare to go to work? Do you feel unappreciated, underpaid or like you're suffocating under the weight of stress and responsibilities? If you've ever worked a soul sucking job chances are you're shaking your head yes right now. If you're currently in this situation, you may be actively seeking ways to make your escape from the drudgery of a dead-end job.

I was there once 15 years ago. As a matter of fact, the very thought of spending one more day doing my job was so devastating I quit – without a plan, without much foresight. It was not the smartest move I ever made, but despite the many challenges, I have never regretted it.

It is possible to free yourself from the monotony of traditional employment, and today it is much easier than when I did it! If you're aching for freedom, or you are struggling with anxiety at the prospect of being “down sized”, know that it's never too soon to start planning how to take your power back. Life is short, why spend it working to make someone else rich if what you do is not rewarding or fulfilling?

Many of us were raised with a lot of deeply ingrained beliefs. You have to work hard to have money. You need to find a good job in order to be successful etc. While these things are true, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to work for an employer punching a time clock in the traditional sense.

This mindset was hard for me to shake for a long time. I believed that the average “lay person” couldn't start a business without a lot of prior experience and money up front. The truth is, with a bit of creative thinking and resourcefulness you can start several different types of businesses for next to nothing.

Planning for Self-Employment

So, you want to be self-employed – either by choice, or because you're unemployed and no prospective jobs are opening up. No problem. The first step before deciding what to do is to take an honest assessment of your knowledge, skills and passions in that order. You want to do something that is both practical, but also fulfilling. Those who are truly interested in the jobs they do fare better. Freelancing requires a deep level of dedication and you won't have that if you are pursuing something that doesn't appeal to you.

You want to do something that is both practical, but also fulfilling. Those who are truly interested in the jobs they do fare better. Freelancing requires a deep level of dedication and you won't have that if you are pursuing something that doesn't appeal to you.

For example, I have an impressive typing speed, but the idea of transcription and its repetitive monotony is not something I could stick with long-term. Yes, there is money in transcription for sure, but it is not something I can enjoy. I need a job where I am able to get up and move around, change rooms etc. I don't do well with tons of structure or sitting still in one place for hours on end with demanding deadlines. This would not have been the job for me, despite having the skills for it.

Look honestly at your skills and also at your interests and personality. You have to find something that can work into all these areas to be successful.

Sally is a fantastic cook who loves to tell a good story. She has a lot of old family recipes, coupled with a natural knack for knowing how to put ingredients together. She loves cooking and feels great when she's in the kitchen. Although she loves to tell stories and interact with people, her writing skills are not the best. She prefers to take an active role.Food blogging may not be a great choice, but cooking videos on Youtube could be a potentially lucrative source of residual income as she works to become a caterer or develop her own product line.

Some self-employment ideas for Sally might be to get a food handlers license and start selling items at fairs and markets. She could also consider becoming a personal cook, catering, baking pies/cakes for office parties, etc. There are many ideas that would fit her natural talents and abilities. The key is to brainstorm and start small. Perhaps she could cater a small function for a friend or relative. Business cards and word of mouth advertising are the key to growing a micro-business or sideline. Creating videos to monetize could help her show off her skills and earn her some money as well.

So, consider your hobbies, skills and natural inclinations. If you are not a people person and prefer more solitude, you may want to freelance doing something more “behind the scenes” for clients. Copywriters, transcriptionists, translators, programmers, and editors are a few examples of freelance careers that lend themselves to more introverted types.

Can't stand the idea of isolation or hours in an office? Consider other career choices that allow you to interact with people. Personal organizers, party planners, craftspeople, and entertainers are all great ideas for those who need a lot of interaction.

Use this guide to help you know and understand self-employment taxes. When you freelance you will be using 1099's instead of W2's etc. It's important to know how to itemize deductions and expenses to ensure you don't end up paying more than you should.

Transitioning to Self-Employed Status

Ideally, you should start your micro-business while still employed to avoid the stresses that come with loss of income. This isn't always possible, especially if you have been laid off. The key is starting small. When I first left my job, I placed an add in a local paper to clean houses. My ad and supplies cost me less than $100. My first job covered the start-up costs.

Once I had been doing that house for awhile, my client recommended me to others and my little sideline business blossomed. I did several houses per month, bringing in over $1200 almost immediately. It was very part time, allowing me to pursue other interests simultaneously. On the weekends; I went to fairs and festivals to sell my handmade soaps and lotions.

I also taught myself HTML and built websites in my spare time. Writing had always been my hobby and first love. I knew that one day I wanted to “be a writer”. Over time, I grew my client base enough to be able to write full time. Writing and building websites also provides me with residual income every month. This comes in handy whenever there are dry spells or extra expenses.

Business Ideas with Potentially Low Start Up Costs

Here is a list of just a few of the many ideas for self-employment. What can you come up with?

  • Crafter (sell your items at craft fairs and on Etsy)
  • Writing – (Ghostwriting, blogging, product descriptions, instruction manuals, tutorials, website content, magazine articles)
  • Editing
  • Transcription
  • Translation
  • Cooking (cake baker, homemade candies, specialty recipes, dip and soup mixes etc)
  • Detailing Cars
  • Cleaning Houses or Offices
  • Running Errands
  • Handyman / Janitorial Duties
  • Consulting (use your accounting, business, finance skills to assist individuals and businesses)
  • Sewing/tailoring
  • Party planning
  • Personal organizer
  • Personal trainer / fitness coach
  • Yard work
  • Refurbish and sell electronics, computers, games

Successful Self-Employment

Self-employment brings weighty responsibilities. To find success; you must be a resourceful, creative thinker who is not afraid to try new things and solve problems. It's also important to be thrifty, and above all, patient. It takes persistence, long hours and usually some tears to see measurable success.

There is a lot of trial and error with a personal business, because it's just that – personal. Every individual will respond differently to challenges and will have different ideas for where they want to take their business.

Start small. Most successful businesses started as micro-businesses. McDonald's was originally a barbecue stand with 15 menu items started by two brothers. Again, think small – all great things start that way.

A lot of people fail because they don't see how they could keep up with the giants. You don't have to! Offer something unique to your area, bring your own skills and talents forward. It isn't about competing with “box mart” it's about doing something that no one else offers in quite the same way you do.

Another valuable lesson: be willing to do more than one thing, but don't spread yourself too thin. At one point I was cleaning, doing craft fairs, writing, and going to school - all at the same time. It got to be too much and everything began to suffer.

At first, more than one thing was exciting. The diversity ensured that I was making enough money and that I was never bored. Too much going on however, had the opposite effect. Soon the stress was overwhelming and I couldn't manage all of my priorities, so I began to let go of things I didn't need anymore.

I stopped cleaning and doing the fairs and devoted myself full time to writing for clients and managing my own blogs and websites. These days, I am always very busy, but it's a “good” busy. I have multiple streams of income, but I don't feel like I need octopus arms and more hours in the day to keep up with it all.

Is Self-Employment Right For You?

Ask yourself the following questions and be brutally honest. Even if the answers aren't what you think you want to hear, addressing them with candor can help you develop the right stuff to make it on your own, even if you need to wait for awhile.

  • Are you disciplined and organized? If not is this a skill you can realistically learn?
  • Do you take initiative to do things? Or do you do better having a set schedule where you know what is expected of you?
  • Does not knowing what to expect make you feel exhilarated or overwhelmed?
  • Do you love to learn?
  • Do you have adequate problem solving skills?
  • Do you have the technical skills your business will require?
  • Can you cope with not having a set, steady paycheck?
  • Can you manage your time and resources well?
  • Do you have supportive people around you?
  • Do you have marketable skills?
  • How resourceful are you when a problem presents itself that you don't have an immediate answer for?

Are you or have you ever been self-employed?

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© 2014 Christin Sander


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    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 20 months ago from Midwest

      I agree yecall, in this day and age you can't trust traditional employment and being self-sufficient is the way to go when you're able. Thanks for the read and comment.

    • yecall profile image

      yecall 20 months ago from California

      I love your hub. I too am totally into self employment and I really want to focus upon passive income sources this time. I mean, of course it is a misnomer because there is nothing passive about setting it up but still. I think it is smart to be self employed as you say and totally into passive income.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Yes, you can have more than one HP account, it's fine. You have to reach minimum payout on each account individually to get paid though. For example if you had 20 on this account and 30 on the other - you wouldn't get a payout. Each account would have to reach the $50 threshold.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from Alabama

      thanks Christin. you rock! I'm wondering now if starting a separately named hubpage is feasible with a single subject rather than multi-subjects. and if they will allow this.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      I understand Oscarlites It was about that timeframe that Panda hit HP the first time around and those who had made very good income suddenly saw it take a massive hit. Then fast forward a bit and there was another hit, and even more was lost. The positive side of HP is that they, despite not knowing what exactly Google expects, still continue to work on improving the quality of the site. Many other UGCS sites have gone under completely (Squidoo is the prime example) I have hope that HP will continue to work to improve and that they have a real interest in making this site succeed. There are indeed a few hubbers that earn hundreds per month - but they are very few and far between it's true. They also tend to be very good at marketing themselves and their work and are well trained in writing for the internet. Sadly, the vast majority here don't and probably won't ever make anywhere near that amount for a variety of reasons. That doesn't preclude HP from being a good venue though - if for nothing else as a way to get experience and have a great set of clips for potential clients to view when getting work. The majority of my money is writing in my niches that I enjoy, but for other people :)

      It sounds like you have some good expertise, 20 years of living in Alaska sounds like the makings of a good niche market/blog/ebook type venture to me. It may be not be the highest in demand, but when you tie it into the hunting, fishing etc. I bet it could do quite well. Good luck with it.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from Alabama

      I see. well trucking is one that is on my mind right now and different aspects of trucking, not just one venue. I also have focused on 20 years plus of living in Alaska. flying, fishing, hunting, and general lifestyle, with a bent toward advertising of tourism and industry. maybe I will benefit from your suggestions as I will try to focus on it. See, I have been here three plus years on a deadhead journey so far. Yes I saw the claims of others making 300-600 a month, and even more, but in my mind that is bogus. that's my reality and I am a fairly positive person. IT was like one day they just cut us off from all revenue. how is that being loyal to us hubbers? ha thanks., you ARE helpful!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      If you are looking for traffic from Google, I'd probably steer clear of inspiration or politics because they are very saturated by bigger, well-known sites. You can do these if you plan on using social media or if you already have a following etc. As a complete newcomer, I would focus on trucking or any other smaller niche where you have a better shot of getting noticed or being competitive. You could also consider working for a political site as a commentator or write their content. (I do a lot of ghost writing for others). With ghost writing, the pay is decent, but you don't get the credit.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from Alabama

      yes. thanks. one goal I have with hubpages is to have separate divisions of hubs, that preclude each other, and I don't know how to achieve that. 1) trucking only, 2) inspirational only, 3) political posts.. can you help me with this?

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Hi Oscarlites,

      The truth about HP is that it is not a good source of income. It can be a good source of pocket money each month with time and patience. The biggest perk to HP for me has been as a portfolio of work to show potential clients. It also creates good, solid backlinks to my niche websites and blogs. A lot of good writers fail online - and it has nothing to do with their writing ability and everything to do with not knowing how to promote their writing. I get most of my views here from Pinterest and social media, so I gear my writing here towards shareability etc. On my older well established websites, I focus more on SEO for search engines because they get good organic traffic. It's not just writing ability, but a myriad of other skills you have to learn to be successful writing online. If you're dedicated, it's totally doable :)

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from Alabama

      I am looking from the inside on the hubpage hobby. I say hobby because it garners no income from my paltry hubs. and as a consequence it contributes to my not believing I am a good writer, for IF I was, I would make some income, right? Or is someone saying there is no "market", or demand on hubpages? Good Hub. up!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      rmmercer, we aren't allowed to discuss earnings specifically on here. I make in the triple digits each month, certainly not enough to live on. The primary way HubPages has helped me earn a living is by using it for clips and samples for other jobs. People can see my profile, review things I've written and see how prolific of a writer I am. I also do more than just writing. I also do graphic design and I have blogs/niche websites that I design and monetize. All of those things combined with other clients (that I've picked up on Elance or through word of mouth) are what built me to a sustainable income. My monthly income varies, but is in the thousands a month from all sources. I'm not retiring to my yacht anytime soon we'll put it that way lol. But, I can make the bills and my husband is working.

      There is no way to make a living doing only HubPages - not anymore. At one time perhaps, but this site was hit by the original Panda roll out shortly before I signed up here. At that time many veteran hubbers were making an income solely on this website - and a nice one to boot! Sadly, although things have improved. HP has never regained that status.

    • rmmercer profile image

      Robin Mercer 2 years ago from Arizona

      I found myself unexpectedly from sharing in my husband's 120K income to...nothing. I am the sole supporter now on a pt barely-above-min-wage job. But that's how I found HP! If you don't mind my asking, how long did it take you to start seeing a paycheck from HP and in the neighborhood of...?

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      good idea either open up a business or be a mommy

    • Bongzwane profile image

      Bongani Zwane 2 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Eye opening indeed.

    • MHiggins profile image

      Michael Higgins 2 years ago from Michigan

      Great information here. I had a position that I really enjoyed for several years. The corporation that I work for took it away from me and gave me a lesser position. I am planning my move to get out on my own. Great hub! Very encouraging!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Homeplace for reading and commenting - much appreciated :)

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      It is a special world, self-employment, for sure! Thanks for sharing such useful information! ;-)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Kawika - Good luck on getting to that point! It's very satisfying even with the uncertainty that can be involved.

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 3 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Nicely done Christin8, I've been hovering over this subject for a long time and hope to make more of an impact on my day job's income. I think I fall under a wide spectrum of others that are trying to even out the scales of income between day job and dream job. As soon as I can get the two even remotely close, I'm bailing! Peace. Kawi.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Nate - I'm so glad you read and enjoyed the hub and I'm even more happy you found your way out of the indentured servitude that many jobs can be. Thanks for the awesome feedback, much appreciated.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      A few years ago, after many years of dealing with things I never should have tolerated, I just plain couldn't take going to my job. Other things in my life combined with this new-found lack of tolerance for slavery and abuse caused me to quit my job and deciding never to go back to that trap. I really can't imagine living that way again, for anything.

      So, I'm saying this article is really refreshing to me, to see that someone else is aware and knows that employment is not worth it; and I really like how you've laid this out and have given the reader what to expect from a life of self-employment. Your groundwork here is a great springboard and very encouraging too. Thanks for sharing your experience, insights and knowledge.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Katrina for reading and commenting - glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Katrina Speights profile image

      Katrina 3 years ago from Texas

      Good read, I think more than a few people could benefit from this.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for reading and commenting Pico - I understand the ups and downs for sure. good luck to you in your business endeavors.

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 3 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      Working toward self employment. I already write and earn a small amount there. I am trying to get a woodturning business off the ground. The setbacks and delays have been frustrating. I should be able to start making sawdust again within the next week. Thanks for the article.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks temtor94 - I appreciate the positive feedback and I'll be sure to check out your hubs as well. Being self-employed has its own set of challenges, but it is definitely rewarding for those who are suited to it.

    • temptor94 profile image

      Universal writer 3 years ago

      These are really useful tips for self-employers and those who wish to pursue it. You are right, it is really crucial to have interest in the field and multiple sources of income (not putting all the eggs in the same basket). My dream is to become a good writer over the years, so that at some point in the future, I can take up full-time writing as my primary source of income. Thank you for the great article!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Suzanne, all excellent points :) Balance is key for many. Some I think even enjoy working part time away from home, and doing the bulk of the work on their own - anything that gives you that balance and satisfaction.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      A very useful hub. I am self employed part time while holding down a day job. I do graphic and web design, some blogging and some other hands-on work. It has taken a huge amount of dedication for the self employment - as I build websites while my kids make noise in the background etc....and work even when I am sick. I have been doing this for 10 years. The good thing is that although in traditional employment I am a bit of a job hopper, in my evening work, I have never once desired to throw it all away and do something else, so I figure it is all right for me!

      I tried making it into a full time preposition a few times, but lacked motivation spending the whole day alone doing it, so it fits much better with a day job. Plus, it's easier for an employer to pay superannuation than to grit your teeth and pay (by law in Oz) 10% of your income to super yourself. I do recommend it and love the idea of starting small, but you need to make sure that it pays, and you don't spend a large portion of the day on unproductive work. Voted useful and up!

    • bless3 profile image

      bless 3 years ago from Indonesia

      hope to write as good as you Christin and also i do really hope to be hub community as well.. cheers :)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks bless glad you enjoyed the hub :)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for reading and commenting marieloves - glad you enjoyed the hub :)

    • marieloves profile image

      Marie 3 years ago from Canada

      Great advice, ChristinS!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for reading and commenting epbooks glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Excellent advice and definitely something I am working toward!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks so much Faith - I really appreciate it :)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Great hub! I think we all dream of being self-employed at some point in time in our lives, and you have provided excellent advice here with a lot of useful information.

      Up and more and away

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for the read, comments and votes Shelley - much appreciated.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      You have certainly got persistence, and now you are on the road to where you want to be - well done. Great hub, voted up, interesting and useful

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Eric - much appreciated :) Haven't seen you around in awhile I hope all is well.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great hub.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Flourish - that sounds like an interesting sideline :). It is nice to be able to earn from home and still be here for the kids Chin chin I agree - thanks for commenting.

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 3 years ago from Philippines

      Just like ChristinS, I offer writing and virtual assistance services. I'm glad that even from home I could help my family get an extra source of income.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      A lot of folks give up too early or don't have a plan. I like your tenacity. Thanks for sharing your experience. Day trading supplements my income stream, but it requires a chunk of change to begin with.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Yes, I am a full time freelance writer - but no not on sites like this alone. This is one income stream and a means of self-promotion. It contributes to my monthly income, but my living comes from the clients I write for. I do copy, marketing materials and I ghostwrite books.

    • Hackslap profile image

      Harry 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I like what I do during my day job but also know if you want to earn the big bucks.. you need more than one source of income ..signing up on HP was certainly due to that reason .... I'm exploring things like transcription too you think people can make a living writing online (like here on HP?)..

      Interesting read and voted up!