Updated: Nov 12, 2019
After years of trial and error I'm so excited to announce that I am officially, unequivocally, and 100% a freelance writer and photographer! It feels surreal to finally be in this new chapter of my life mainly because I failed so many times to succeed at being my own boss.
Let me fill you in on the roller coaster ride I took to get here.
I seriously started considering working for myself 8 years ago when I was 21. I had been working almost 3 years at the American Express call center, and to put it mildly I wanted to kill myself. Anything sounded better than taking another call from an irate customer (call center workers, you know what I'm talking about!)
At the time I was making a lot of jewelry and after spending countless hours on Etsy admiring all the beautiful handmade jewelry and accessories. I thought, "Hey, I can sell my jewelry on here too!" If only it were that simple. I didn't have a clue about the amount of effort it would take, marketing, or business in general, especially on a crowded marketplace like Etsy.
Regardless, I up and quit my job with no notice and decided to try my hand at it. Needless to say, it didn't work out well. I didn't make any sales and I wasn't understanding why. Soon enough I was in another call center doing the same thing I had tried so desperately to escape.
That was only first failed attempt in a long line of many. I repeated this cycle for the next 8 years. I was so stuck on not working for anyone, especially large corporations, that I was in out of jobs and always trying to do something new to make my own money, but eventually always winding up in the same place I was before.
As you can see, for the longest time I didn't understand that being your own boss doesn't come out of thin air. Not only do you need to find the thing that you are passionate enough about to stay motivated, but you need to continuously work on yourself.
So if you're a hopeful entrepreneur like I once was, what can you do to avoid the pitfalls that I got lost in for years and years? I thought I would share these 3 mistakes I made so that you can save yourself and make smarter decisions than I did!
I can't tell you how many times I just up and quit a job because it wasn't vibing with me so I could pursue an unplanned and unclear vision. Now, I'm not saying to stay in a soul-sucking job if it is really making you depressed or something like that. What I am saying is that I realized that sometimes, actually most of the time, you will have to build your business on the side.
What always ended up happening after I quit is I would realize I didn't have that much saved and immediately start being stressed and down on myself. I didn't even have time to focus on my goals because it was more important that I figure out how I was going to eat that day and pay my rent.
Deciding to finally be patient is what helped me get to where I'm at now. Yes, I had to get another office job, but I found one that was pretty chill, not too demanding, and gave me the flexibility to work on my business. I stayed at that job for a year and a half and during that time I worked my ass off when I was at home to get clients, build a portfolio, and improve my skillset.
If I didn't stick with it, I would've ended up going through the same vicious cycle.
As shitty as a job might be, it can not only afford you to live comfortably while pursuing your dream, but it can also allow you to invest in your business. For some reason I didn't understand this. Don't ask me why. The point is I understand it now, and I hope you do too!
Have a plan and take action
This might be common sense to you already, but it sure as hell wasn't for me. You see, I'm the type of person who believes in following my intuition, which I think everyone should do. Unfortunately, when I was younger I took this to mean making irrational, impulsive decisions that came back to bite me in the ass.
The reason why they were impulsive decisions even though what I was trying to do really resonated with me is because I had no action plan and I didn't put in the effort I needed to.
How can you dive into something when you don't have any clue about where to start or what you're doing? How can you succeed at something that requires immense self-discipline, massive action, and motivation when there is no structure to what you're doing?
Basically, I would sleep in, watch TV, and work on my business here and there, but you know what I didn't do? I didn't create a schedule for myself. I didn't know what resources I needed to succeed. I had no plans on how to scale my business and gain long-lasting customers. And I wasn't doing enough!
So before you jump in to pursuing your passion create a plan for yourself, and be dedicated to acting on that plan. Get a clear vision on what you want to accomplish and figure out what you need to do every day to get there. Then do it.
It's really that simple.
Never stop improving yourself
I know sometimes we all like to think that we are perfect and there's nothing we can work on, but if that's your belief then you are setting yourself up for failure. I say this because it used to be my belief.
I thought I had all the skills I needed to sell jewelry or be a freelance graphic designer, but that was so far from the truth.
Yes, I had the talent. Yes, I had some good skills. Yes, I knew how to provide excellent customer service because of all my call center jobs. But I didn't know about social media marketing, I didn't know about networking, I didn't know about financing a businesses or getting clients.
Now, every day I spend at least 1 hour learning something that can improve how I do things. I read about photography techniques and new equipment. I read about design. I read other blogs. I listen to motivational podcasts. I read self-improvement books. I go out and meet other entrepreneurs.
These are things that you have to commit to when you decide to work for yourself. There is always room for improvement in all of us, and no matter what industry you are in things will always be changing. Stay on top of your mind and you will stay on top of your business.
Hopefully, reading a little about my many follies has opened your eyes to what steps you should take to reach the holy grail that is self-employment. I wish you the best of luck and I know you'll succeed!