I think it’s interesting and almost disingenuous that so many of the stories you’ll read online by people who quit their day jobs are uplifting and positive without relaying much of the stress and work that is involved. It seems that for some people, the jobs come right away, and they never even have to consider returning to the jobs they so happily quit in order to pay their rent. I’m not one of those people. Now, that’s not to say there haven’t been amazing positive experiences along the way, not to mention the fact that I’m way happier than I was before! But I also think it’s important to show people that it’s not all smooth sailing and that there will be times when you might question your decisions.
Even though I’m still not serving tables (big sigh of relief), I’m still nowhere close to where I want to be. Social media makes things look glamorous, but behind the scenes, there’s a ton of sweating. I was set for my first few months thanks to the small savings I had accumulated; I had about three to four months-worth put aside in order to keep myself going while I got started.
I had my first writing gig within a month, but unfortunately, the work was not steady and didn’t pay well. No sweat, right? I still had time. Then, within the first three months, I had a few small jobs that paid a little each. However, my mistake came when I decided I didn’t need to continue working outside jobs to keep myself going. I figured I would get work sooner or later and that I had time to get going.
During this period, I had to make the decision whether to travel and spend some of the savings I had or to stay in the city and spend all my time trying to book jobs. As I’m sure you’ve all seen, I decided to try and use my credit card rewards and a bit of my savings to keep traveling a little. Well…more than a little really, I had visited five countries by March which was more countries than I had ever seen in a year.
One of the toughest parts about freelancing for me is the focus. It’s so easy to find myself working on too many things at once or finding myself very easily distracted since most of the work I was doing was from my home. Right now, I’m working in a ton of areas on different projects. I’m managing this blog, building my writing and photography portfolios, working on building an Instagram following (feel free to head on up to the Instagram button to follow me!), as well as submitting myself for auditions and extra work. My goal is to work all these separate fields into a manageable career, but there is a lot of groundwork yet to be laid.
In those first few months, I managed to get published on Matador Network. I got a gig writing alternate text for images in online textbooks. I work for an application called Spotted by Locals where I create little blurbs about places that tourists don’t often visit but locals love. I’ve started creating and curating content for my Instagram feed. I’ve had a few photography gigs. I’ve been productive, but it hasn’t quite been enough yet.
May and June rolled around, and funds have run close to dry. It was time to consider getting a day job again because I knew there wouldn’t be a way to pay my bills otherwise. I became really discouraged for a little while because I was disappointed in myself that I hadn’t worked harder and been able to keep going. After all the celebration of leaving serving (hopefully forever), how could I go back? With my tail between my legs and my head down? No way.
The goal for me is to pay my bills while maintaining a super flexible schedule allowing me to continue building my career. I vowed never to work a job I hated again in my life. There’s simply not enough time to spend doing things you hate. I recently discovered two things that would keep me going: background work and becoming a tour guide. Background work would have me on film/TV sets and getting paid (as well as catered meals which might be the best part honestly). Becoming a tour guide would pay well and give me the flexibility I need while also allowing me to continue to at least work within the acting and travel industries. If these both work out the way I hope, I may have found the perfect system for myself.
It hasn’t been easy. It won’t be easy. If you’re thinking of quitting your day job to become a freelancer or a nomad (or both), I highly encourage it, but I want you to realize that it’s a lot of work. You’ll sweat and you’ll worry. You’ll probably doubt yourself a few times, I know I did, though I’ve never once regretted my choice. Even if I had to go back to serving tables, I would do so with the knowledge that I had tried, and that I could try this all again when I had saved up a little money. This time, I would even have the resume and experience ready so that things could potentially move more quickly this time around. Building a freelance career is possible and I like to think that I’m evidence of that and though I did have to go back to a day job of a sort, it’s something I enjoy and I’m not unhappy with it.
Though I haven’t been able to travel the past two months, I really hope that I get to again soon. Once I make it through training and orientation, I plan to at least book a short weekend trip somewhere. I’ve got the travel bug and I’m excited to see what the future has in store.