Is this year the time when you finally escape the rat race and branch out on your own? Here’s a freelance copywriter’s perspective.
Each year, many workers decide that free air conditioning and the annual excitement of a Kris Kringle gift exchange just isn’t enough to stick with a regular job. They make the bold announcement that they’re leaving “to do their own thing”, evoking the envy of their wage slave colleagues. Should you do the same? On one hand it’s freedom from life in a cubicle. On the other, no more paid public holidays.
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?”, this is what you need to consider before you decide you won’t be back at your desk in 2019.
It’s not all beer and skittles
The vision of the self-made sole trader is that they’re able to burn their alarm clocks, sleep till 9 and then head out for a morning surf. They proceed to complete a leisurely three hours of work before picking up the kids from school, all while making the same annual income as the Queen. It turns out that the meanest boss on earth is you. There will be late nights and early starts. If you had an HR department you’d complain bitterly about the lack of overtime pay.
Your income goes bi-polar
The dizzying highs! The terrifying lows! Working for the man can suck harder than Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire. The payoff of a job is that the same amount of money will appear in your account every month, even if you spend entire afternoons furtively bidding on eBay.
When you work for yourself you only get paid for what you actually produce. You will have to be prepared for the times when nobody wants you to produce anything.
Money is always on your mind when you are a business owner. You can guarantee there will be sleepless nights. One dirty secret of the self-employed is that we’ve all laid awake thinking about our elderly relatives and wondering which ones would leave us the most money if they died.
You’ll be everyone’s last minute guy
Whether you’re a brilliant graphic designer, a whip-smart freelance copywriter or a caterer who specialises in making mashed potato sculptures that look like the cast of Game of Thrones, your first challenge is to build up a client base. In the beginning, you’ll get requests from desperate people who have left a massive job till the last possible moment. The calls will come at 3pm on a Friday. You’ll have spent most of the day tinkering with your LinkedIn profile, so you’ll have to say yes to the work. Bye-bye weekend.
You’re now the marketing dude
And the sales guy. And the annoying girl from accounts.
Unless you have a startup budget in the hundreds of thousands, when you take the leap and go out on your own it’s all you. Wallflowers need not apply for life as a sole trader. You have to be more enthusiastic about what you’ve got to offer than the Damart guy. It’s SELL SELL SELL, or your partner will make you go back to your day job.
It’s not all bad
Leaving your job to pursue a career in vintage typewriter repairs is probably a decision you will regret. But if you do your due diligence, write a business plan and make sure your services are required, you have the potential to make more money than you ever did in your day job. You’ll have the flexibility to work when and where they want. Plus, you’ll be able to leave behind those dehumanising quarterly reviews where you have to justify your worth and receive a score out of five like you’re a contestant on a TV cooking show.
And best of all, you’ll be that guy (or girl). The one who walked away from the soul-sucking ordinary and took a risk for once. The person at parties who is able to say “Yeah, I do my own thing.”
So… what are you going to do? Clea Sherman is a Sydney based freelance copywriter who sculpts mashed potato in her spare time. Contact her on +614 20 372 532