7 weeks ago I was laid off from a wonderful company, along with 14 other people. I was told “it was a hard decision but the company was restructuring.” It was a job I absolutely loved and I was gutted when it happened.
The company was as gentle as it could possibly be about it. I can honestly say I don’t believe I was laid off because of performance issues. And I don’t blame the company for doing what they did. It was a business decision. We all got severance pay. But it felt a bit like being kicked out of Utopia. (Yes, it’s that awesome a company.)
Suddenly I was on the job market again with no warning. I had no time to prepare for a new position, no time to figure out what I wanted in a new company. I felt thrust back into the fray of job seeking with no idea what direction to go. (Thank heavens for that severance pay.)
So instead of freaking out, I decided to look at this change as an opportunity. I sat down and asked myself, “Where do I want to go from here? Do I want another ‘real job?’ Do I enjoy the security of someone else writing my paycheck enough to go work for another corporation?
“Or is it time to take control of my own fate again and become a freelancer?”
A little bit about me. I have actually spent more of my working life self-employed than employed by a company. I ran my own costuming business for 15 years, making costumes for people who performed at Renaissance Festivals, as well as for local theater companies in Minnesota.
I’m also a musician. I’ve performed all over the country in all sort of venues; from coffee shops and Renaissance Festivals to corporate parties and concerts. I booked, managed and toured with a Celtic band for 8 years.
I know how to be self-employed.
I know how wonderfully freeing it can be to report to no one but yourself and make your own schedule. I also know the reality of “If you don’t do the work, it doesn’t get done.”
What I hadn’t done full-time yet, was be a freelance copywriter.
Sure, I had taken writing projects on the side while working for different corporations (also as a copywriter) but I hadn’t actually “made my living” as a freelance copywriter. I hadn’t gotten enough projects to even consider making it viable.
Well, suddenly I found myself with the opportunity to see what happened. To see if I could succeed as a freelance copywriter, which has been my dream for the last 5 years.
So I’m taking it.
I am returning to my self-employed roots with my latest career in tow. And I’ve set myself a pretty hefty goal.
I want to be making $6000 a month, net (not gross, after taxes including self-employment tax) in 6 months. That means I’ll have plenty of money to pay my bills as well as my own health care and put money away for retirement. All while living comfortably in my lovely little house in Lake Minnetonka. (I live on an island so I get to say ‘in’ instead of ‘on’.)
Every freelancer’s dream, right?
The problem is, every freelancer, small business owner and entrepreneur sets out with these goals, or something similar, in mind. And many of them fail. I may fail. I’m willing to admit that up front.
But I’m going to find out.
So, being a writer, I’ve decided to write a blog post series documenting my path from laid off to full-time, fully-funded freelance copywriter and marketer. Why am I doing this? Well, partially to hold myself accountable and make sure I get this stuff done.
But I also want to show that it can be done. In fact, I want to show that you can do this, regardless of your skills, industry or chosen career. I want to put together a very basic road map that anyone who works for themselves can follow.
Will this be the ideal road map for absolutely everyone? Of course not! I would be foolish to think that could be true. But it will have some aspects that apply to everyone who wants to work for themselves, or even to those who want to start a small company and employ other folks.
So, welcome to the 6 in 6 blog post series. I will try to post something at least once a week. Some weeks there may be more. Some weeks I may promote products or people. (Hey, I’m in marketing, what do you expect?) But I will do my best to be honest and transparent about everything I do so you can repeat this experiment yourself.
Some of these posts will be musings about being self-employed, random thoughts, etc. It’s a blog and I’m a writer. These things happen. But most of what I plan on posting is real-life advice about how to run a freelance or small business and how I’m doing on reaching my goal.
I’ll talk about tools I use, obstacles I encounter and how I overcome them, and strategies I employ for myself and my clients. I’ll also talk about how I keep myself focused on the work at hand, instead of getting distracted by all the distractible things (a pitfall many freelancers encounter).
I hope you enjoy it.
Have you started your own business? Do you have questions or ideas you think would make a good future blog post? Please tell me about it in the comments.