Why I Gave Up Job Security to Go Freelance

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FreelancingWhen I was a child, dreaming about being a veterinarian, I believed that my career would be determined by my passions. I thought that whatever made me the happiest would be the way I spent my days.

By the time I got to high school, I was considering business management or marketing—I thought that a substantial paycheck would be the most influential factor in my occupational pursuits.

I had no idea that my career path would ultimately come down to concerns over health benefits and matching 401(k)s, work-life balance and job security. Little did I know that choosing an occupation involved so much more than just passion and paychecks.

The Accidental Freelancer

After college I found my way into data analysis with a midsize alcohol distribution company. The job came with paid vacation time, health care benefits and a generous retirement package. It was a very adult job, with stable hours and a company Christmas party every year. In fact, this grown-up job is where I met my husband. I did my job well and got promoted quickly, taking on added responsibility while still managing to get home every night in time to cook dinner for my family.

Then, during one of my more dull moments at work, I wrote an email to an editor at a fashion website that I read religiously—and I was invited to contribute my first piece about stylish motherhood. In the beginning it was a hobby, writing one piece a week in the evenings after my daughter had gone to bed.

Within a year of that first post, I was writing every day. When the company launched a parenting website, my editor recommended me for a contract contributor position. I spent my lunch hours dashing out stories before returning to my day job spreadsheets. At home, the minute that dinner was done, my husband took over with our daughter, and I sat down to type.

It was a difficult time because I love writing and being part of an internet community, but I felt guilty being so focused on my day job. Writing was a passion that I had never considered turning into a profession—it’s one of those unreliable, creative-type jobs that parents try to lead you away from when you’re a teenager. At the same time, I was beginning to make a name for myself in this highly competitive but rewarding industry.

In 2011, after four months of trying to juggle what had become two full-time jobs, I decided that I had to make a choice. Life couldn’t go on like this.

  • Yary Gonzalez

    Inspirational Article! Thanks

  • http://twitter.com/eemusings eemusings

    Congratulations! Editorial isn’t the easiest field to make it in, but those who love it make it work.

  • Jeff

    All very laudable, but if you had a partner’s income and benefits as a safety net before you took the plunge your risk was limited. Personally, I get tired of reading about females having the “courage” to opt out of the rat race to pursue their passion only to learn later in the article that their husband’s are in full-time employment and able to mitigate against any significant drop in their standard of living. Try going freelance when you’re the sole breadwinner in the family. That’s a REAL leap of faith.

  • http://twitter.com/soulshock99 Morena Vattuone

    Hi Lindsay! Thanks for a great article! I think everyone makes good points, as well as Jeff below, however in my opinion, the takeaway from your article is that no matter your situation, take the time as you did, to map out how following your passion would impact your current financial picture. It was very smart to speak with a financial advisor who can really help you cull out the “true costs” of making such a move. Not to discourage you but instead to map out how you are going to tackle any gap that you may discover. Granted, having a supportive partner, both emotionally and financially, is a blessing, but in your case, it shouldn’t discount your work in this article. Everyone’s situation is different, and no one should be villified for having resources, and inversely, no one should be judged for any lack. We are all adults and we have to do what’s best given our situation. We all have to start somewhere! But combining passion with a methodical approach is smart in any financial circumstance. Thank you!