This is the story of my friend Bill. Who is a frequent guest posted here. I am running the blog as a side business whereas, he made his blog main source of income, a full-fledged business. Bill found drawbacks in the corporate world, the office politics, constantly being questioned, less freedom, etc. But, I enjoy my day job. My job gives me many creative ways to express myself. I lead my team rather than being bossed around. Many of you may face a tough working condition. So enjoy the post and try to see if you can apply to your life.
A decade ago, I was just like thousands — or even millions — of fresh graduates: Straight out of college, I landed a job in a business outsourcing company, working as a customer service representative. You can just imagine the rush of pride I felt when I finally got that call, giving me a job offer. I thought to myself, ”This is it! The start of my corporate career!”
I was ready to dive right into the rat race, to push myself to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, and at that time, I truly believed that it was the path meant for me.
Fortunately, I was also financially responsible to know that I wanted to start an emergency fund — squirreling away a percentage of my income for those so-called rainy days. I had seen my older colleagues at work who were deep in debt, and I swore to myself that I would try my very best not to make any money mistakes in my 20s.
I told myself that I would work smart, shop smart, and live smart — and that meant living within a tight budget, even for just a few years, so I would be able to pay off my student loans and build an emergency nest egg at the same time
How I built my emergency fund was pretty simple. As I mentioned, I always made sure that I stowed away 10% of my income at a bank — with a passbook account, no less — that was quite out of the way and too inconvenient for me, so I would not be tempted to use that money for my whims and shopping impulses.
I also considered investing in gold and silver, since those precious metals’ value never depreciate, but I was too young at that time (read: not enough funds and capital), so I had to let that idea go.
After 5 years of working my butt off in the business outsourcing industry, I was burned out, fatigued beyond comprehension, and ready to say good-bye to the corporate world. I was sick of the office politics, dealing with irate, irrational customers, and the stress and boring routine that comes with a nine-to-five desk job.
At that point, I was at a loss. I wanted to leave the corporate world, and my heart and gut were telling me to take on freelancing, but I didn’t know where and how to start. Plus, did I have what it takes to succeed on my own?
And yet, I did take that great leap of faith. Let me tell you that deciding to leave the corporate world and taking the jump into self-employment (a.k.a. freelancing) was not an easy one: It takes a lot of courage and soul searching to know if self-employment is really for you. I had to deal with a lot of naysayers, starting with my own family, who said that I was being impractical.
How could I possibly earn enough to sustain myself if I had no financial fallback (i.e. a regular paycheck)? That’s what they kept asking me. And I have to admit, it was a struggle to keep assuring them that I could handle it, even if deep inside, I was also battling self-doubts.
I would have spiraled to depression were it not for my supportive friends and network of contacts, who were fully all for my decision to become a full-time freelancer. Before I quit my job, a couple of other friends had also done the same thing, taking the route of self-employment, and it was they who helped me land my first client as a freelancer.
These good friends were realistic and didn’t sugarcoat the truth: that freelancing at first is hard, but it gets easier as you build your contacts, your client base, and your self-discipline.
If you were to ask me, the hardest part of being self-employed is the loneliness that comes with it. Before, I would go to work and be surrounded by people (even if they weren’t all the people I liked). I was living alone, and given that I was home-based, I had no one to talk to when I wanted a break, and for projects that were quite overwhelming, I had no one to turn to when the going got tough.
Believe me, no matter how awesome being self-employed is — you get to work in your pajamas, you own your time, you get to work whenever you want — there are still downsides to it. What’s more, if you’re a freelancer, most clients would assume that you have no vacations and weekends off, so for the most part, I was on-call… and that can be really frustrating and taxing.
Also, I had to admit that the start of my freelancing gig impacted my income — A LOT. If I was already living frugally with my corporate job, I had to scale down even more when I became a freelancer. I worried about how to save on family and personal expenses in the future, and I spent months thinking of ways to augment my income as a freelance writer.
That’s when I got the idea of starting a blog. Blogging is a popular gold mine, but competition was quite stiff. So, I had to research and learn which niches were already saturated, and which niches needed more “supply.” Fortunately, since I was handling financial operations in my previous job, I was quite well-versed in finance and money, so I decided to start a blog that would dispense useful advice and relevant info on such topics.
It took some time, and A LOT of effort (such as networking and putting the word out about my site), but now I am proud to say that I have a profitable finance blog. It’s a good means for a side income, on top of my writing and proofreading gigs. Best of all, I get to choose the topics, and it’s really quite refreshing!
Startup bloggers and freelancers and the curious have asked me how I managed to “make it,” and I always tell them to always stay positive, to learn to shake off negative vibes, and to keep learning and honing their craft. You need to constantly update your knowledge and improve your skills, if you want to keep afloat in the competitive world of blogging.
Expanding your network of contacts is also a must — and this rings true whether you are self-employed or otherwise. Business, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, is all about knowing the right people, after all.
I also became even more inspired when I stumbled upon this post. If you know me, I am always hunting around for inspirational quotes and posts to keep me going. My life as a freelancer is not full of rainbows, sunshine, and four-leaf clovers, but it’s rewarding, both emotionally and financially.
There are still days when I just want to stop working, when I doubt my decision to be self-employed, but I only need to glance at these two quotes that are permanently tacked on my cork-board in my home office:
”The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” —Walter Bagehot, British journalist and essayist
”Choose a job you will love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ”—Confucius, Chinese philosopher
…and I will be reminded of how blessed I am to be doing something I love — and getting paid for it.
About the Author: Bill Achola is a personal financial publisher who owns a fast-growing, dynamic and innovative personal finance blog that empowers young people to make the right financial decision. To see action on how you can invest in your future, check out his blog at http://traderushreview.us.com.