I’ve been thinking about moving into a full-time freelance/independent author career a lot recently. The question that keeps coming up, though, is, “am I willing to give my all?” Being self-employed means independence — at a price. That price can be financial security. Being your own boss can be great, but unless you’re ready to face what it takes to be independently employed, you might be better off sticking with your day job for a while.
So what does it take? Planning. You don’t necessarily need to be debt free, according to Michelle Goodman, author of My So Called Freelance Life, but you do need a plan or you’ll spend your time hopping from one unsatisfying gig to another rather than living your dream. Michelle’s common sense, down-to-earth advice is to forget writing down lofty ideas and “think tangible, realistic, bite-size pieces.” Having a goal to write the next bestseller is a great ambition, but how are you going to get there? That’s your plan.
For instance, my goal is to become fully self-employed by a certain date. To get to that goal I’ve written down three steps: 1) finish my WsIP, 2) submit articles to Constant Content and other freelance web sites, and 3) monetize my blog once I move it to its new domain. I will break down each of those steps into monthly, weekly and daily steps. After writing those down, its only a matter of working my plan… and perhaps rewarding myself for a job well-done. Although accomplishing a goal should be its own reward, it never hurts to dangle a carrot in front of yourself. (I plan on going out for a nice lobster dinner. )
Beyond setting down a series of steps on how you will reach your ultimate writing goal, you’ll need to assess your financial status. One of the best resources I’ve found in helping you figure out just what your financial state looks like is The Money Book. It’s a no-nonsense approach to looking at past financial blunders and realizing there is a better way to handle your money — a way that includes saving for those inevitable emergencies on a fluctuating income.
If you’re over your head in debt, you may need to keep your day job while working on becoming a full-time independent author. J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly took his steps into the world of self-employment in stages, cutting back the time he spent at the box factory a little at a time after all his debt, except his mortgage, was paid off. At the moment, that’s my plan as well: pay off everything except the largest debts before leaping into being a full-time freelance/independent author.
Living your dream is possible, but having a solid plan before you drop the safety net can mean the difference between succes and failure on The Road to Writing.