About three weeks ago, I started to look at what it would take for me to launch a legitimate free-lance writing business. I’ve been lucky to work with some great clients over the years, but I never pursued them. Both for-profits and nonprofits came to me with work sporadically over the years, but the sum total of that only amounted to a little extra income from time to time. I never took it seriously as a potential living. And then I started observing friends and former colleagues who have taken the leap into entrepreneurship and are very successful. They also appeared to be pretty damn happy, joyous and free. I discovered I was really freakin’ jealous of them. I want what they have.
And then I thought: “I’m a smart and talented person. I have good business sense. I am aware of tons of business resources. I know how to market myself. I know a hell of lot of people in my hometown. I am organized, tenacious and determined. I could do this.”
And THEN I thought: “Oh shit, I could really do this.” But I also realized that if I was serious about going out on my own, I couldn’t half-ass it. “Do or don’t do. There is no try.” Or whatever Yoda said.
Anyway, I have always been the kind of person to “go big or go home.” So I bought a website domain from GoDaddy.com, and a basic hosting and web design builder from a company recommended to me by a good friend who is also in business for herself, and who has a really nice little website. I met with my accountant, a SCORE business counselor and other successful free-lancers to find out the nuts and bolts of how they do what they do and get paid for it. I set my rates, created an invoice, downloaded some basic contract forms (in case I need them for large or long-term jobs; fingers crossed!) and formed an LLC. I got federal and local tax ID numbers.
About 48 hours ago, I launched my website and blog, and sent hundreds of messages and social media posts to all my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts, and a slew of other contacts. I have a plan for further business development that includes researching national free-lance opportunities and joining a few strategically chosen networking groups. I have a timeline and some milestone deadlines scheduled. Oh, and I finally signed up for Twitter, God help me.
This week – which technically is my first full week off from my current, corporate full-time gig in 9 months -- I have had two client meetings, scheduled two more for next week and received two story assignments. I have also gotten kudos and congrats from tons of friends and colleagues, not to mention lots of potential leads. (Side note: my burnout as a result of being so damned overworked has been a major catalyst for all of the above.)
So NOW I’m thinking: I could really, really do this!!
I am realistic about how long it will take me to fully go out on my own. It might be a year before I’m ready both financially and emotionally. I have had the comfort of a steady paycheck my entire career, and it is DAMN scary to think that will go away. I am the kind of person who really needs stability in all areas of my life in order to be serene. So I’m going to have to create that stability for myself before I will be secure enough to leave the corporate world. And it might be a good long while before I can save enough of a nest egg to do that. And that’s OK.
I am fortunate to have a really good job right now, so I don’t have to be in a hurry. And I have enough integrity not to allow my “side” gig to jeopardize my regular paycheck. And I certainly don’t want to burn any bridges. My current boss has been good to me. My excitement about the future naturally makes me impatient to jump in feet first, but I am way too methodical and practical to actually do that. I am not spontaneous or rash by nature… all my risks will be calculated.
I’m sure this rollercoaster is just starting to creep up the track, so I’m buckling in for the ride. I’m really excited about the twists, turns and thrills I’m sure to experience along the way!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.