I get asked quite often how I make a living as a professional writer and editor. Maybe something here will strike a chord with you if you are on the fence about being self-employed.
To know up front: I only have myself to rely on. There isn’t any alimony or child support or income from anyone coming to me — other than what I earn myself. I also do not have any children to feed or any crazy-ridiculous expenses to worry about such as sports teams, music lessons, camp getaways, college tuition, or anything else.
I usually hear one of these two replies: “Hey, that’s fabulous that you have no one but yourself to worry about! No money worries at all!” or “Oh, wow, if something happens to you, you might be up the proverbial river without the proverbial paddle. Does’t that stress you out?”
I don’t have a formula, but here’s what there is to know about how I am now 10 years into being my own boss:
- When I decided to leave the corporate world, I gave myself 1 year to get my finances in order and find affordable health insurance. It was/is important to me to have at least 4 months of savings to cover bills.
- At the time I quit, I downsized (sold my house) and have been renting ever since, which is less responsibility and has more predictable expenses (to me), so I can save money as well as pay myself.
- I am frugal – this means I minimize my bills. I have Internet, a cell phone, use AC, and buy too much food when I go to the grocery store. It does not mean I’m working by candlelight to save on my electric bill or that I live in a library for free WiFi. 🙂 I always pay my credit card in full each month to avoid finance charges and I pay my bills monthly, not weekly.
- I maintain my older vehicle instead of having car payments.
- I network to meet other solopreneurs and learn how they thrive in their business and try tips I learn.
- I use LinkedIn to find contract opportunities.
- I only take on jobs that interest me, which keeps me happy and lets me give my best to the client (I always meet or beat deadlines).
- I absolutely love what I do and (literally) say “Thank you” out loud every day to the cosmos.
I don’t know of a magic bullet for self-employment success, but I know (1) it’s important to love what you do and do what you love and that you have to work at it (very much like a personal relationship). If you want it to work and approach it honestly, I believe you’re more than 75% to your goal.
And (2) having money readily available if monthly income checks don’t arrive when planned is quite helpful at keeping stress about money at under control.
What is your tip to someone thinking about becoming self-employed?
Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.