This is something I wrote for the upcoming edition of RumiNations, a magazine I assist with as Director of Web Media at S’eclairer. You can find the latest released issue digitally, and more information as the site develops, at Ruminations.biz.
A couple of years ago I made a decision. It might have been partially of frustration, but wholly of necessity, but I decided to let go of the day to day job as I knew it. For six years, I was a video editor for a company and felt unfulfilled. It was a steady job. It paid the bills. I learned a lot out of necessity.
But that was it.
For some the freedom, and fear, of becoming independently employed is the only way. We’re coming to the days where the 9 to 5 worker is not going to be the norm and more people will find success, and overall happiness, with striking out on their own. Here’s a few key factors to consider.
Have Passion – It’s hard to find the drive without the passion. You can do it, but that’s not why you’re making this sort of move. Or considering it. I couldn’t leave my day job for landscaping. I lack a green thumb and almost kill plants with a touch, as my luck is. I love computers. I started working on things on the side that interested me. That I would be doing for free either way, and getting good at that thing as a side effect. Make a list of the things you think you would love to do, for free, day to day without falling into a rut. Now start looking at what opportunities those passions may present in the real world.
Be Aware – I didn’t intend to go into video, majoring in Web and Multimedia, but I saw a cross section between the thing I enjoyed in high school, but never thought would be a job that was real unless I left the area. Then I saw the rise of video on the web and Podcasting happening as my own irritation grew. It was a perfect mix. What opportunities are out there. Are you seeing a need your skill fits that fills the gap? Locally.
Be Online. Be Connected – The internet has changed the world, opening up opportunity in a new avenue. You can invoice online, brand yourself and connect via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Produce online “Webinars” from anything relating to computer design to cooking. I could never have been able to build my work on word of mouth and community, and have a ready made point to show off my skills five years ago in this field to the effect I have now, and see a lot of freelancers of different disciplines do the same.
Take a Step Back – You have the passion. You have the drive. Now take a step back and smell the roses. Gary Vaynerchuck proclaims in his first book “Crush It” that you can do all the work you can physically muster and have all of the skill in the world, but if you’re family and home life isn’t in check, it all falls apart. Make sure you’re not putting your work in front of your family, your kids, even you’re girlfriend if you’re at the point. If you have this issue now, it’s not likely to get better as you push in your field.
Get Out There – If you’re working from home, get out of the house. This is why coffee shops are a freelancer’s best friend. It gets lonely working from home. The dog is not a great conversationalist and the cat just stares at me. Many freelancers join together in “work spaces” rented or each other’s house, that gives the feels of comradreerie that you miss from that day to day job, that in my case at least, fuel the creative fires. Can’t do that? Get out to local events in your area. MeetUp.com and Facebook are a great start to look for groups of interest that you may be able to join and network to talk shop and see some faces.
Find Other Voices – For me, I found Podcasts and blogs that fit my field. I’m a fan of FreelancerSwitch.com, a blog for freelancers, obviously, and listen to shows about organization and my field, including Back to Work (http://5by5.tv/b2w) and Film Riot (http://revision3.com/filmriot). It’s a fit to my work, but anyone can do this (I’m a firm believer of the access of social media, but that’s another article) but start your own podcast! I started Freelance 4 Real (http://freelance4real.com) to put my head together with other freelancers in social media, programming, acting, and more fields to figure out just how we manage our personal businesses and learn from each other’s mistakes.
It’s a changing world, and exciting opportunities are out there that will fill that personal void in your day to day life. It’s challenging and scary, but the rewards are worth it personally, if not monetarily.