Riding the Freelance Rollercoaster

Or, as I tweeted yesterday, “There are lots of tears.” It has been a little over five months since I left my full time publishing job, and my life has changed so dramatically that I thought (and Cathy from Red White Boston suggested) that I should write a little update and a little advice for anyone thinking of making a major life change.

In the months that have passed I have done social media for an events website and app, worked on various small Marketing projects, done a whole lot of blogging, visited my family multiple times, traveled to Ireland, Napa, and Sonoma. I have also applied to about a million freelance, full time, and part time jobs and even internships that I never heard back from. . . which is beyond annoying because I know for certain I am 100% capable to do a great job at any one of them. I am now just starting to hit my stride as a Marketing Consultant/Blogger extraordinaire, and I am excited!

As I walked from a meeting yesterday, enjoying the first truly warm day in months, I thought about some of the lessons I wanted to share from my experience. For control freaks like me, stepping out of stability and into a world where you have work one day and none the next was a massive leap of faith and often feels like spinning out of control.

The one major thing I have learned, especially over the past few weeks is how much I love Marketing. I could never tell if it was where I worked, the structure, the subject matter, etc. or what I was doing professionally that made me unhappy. Now that I have the chance to focus on some really fun Marketing projects, I remember how much I love to work, a VERY good feeling.

Here are a few other lessons learned along the way.

1) Quitting a full time, salaried job with benefits, certain hours, a physical office and equipment, etc. is scary. Really scary. I was at my publishing job for 2.5 years, and it took me a year of planning and thinking about it to finally make the leap. I still wake up in the middle of the night at least a couple nights a week (last night being one) in a cold sweat and panic about my future.

2) Whether you decide to go down the freelance path or if you are searching for another full time job (I am currently open to both.), you might experience a roller coaster of emotions, thoughts, and even physical ups and downs like crazy anxiety symptoms, lack of sleep, lack of appetite (or desire to chow down!). Keeping in touch with friends and family by email and phone have helped me immensely to get through these.

3) Job hunting, whether it be for a full time job or new clients for consulting is an unkind process. Many, if not most, companies don’t respond to say they received your email, that they are not interested, that they need more information, that they hate you. . . nothing. The whole process could do with a bit of etiquette if you ask me, even if auto-replies and mass emails are involved. It is what it is though, and you can’t take it personally.

4) Sometimes it’s the big picture, sometimes it’s the little picture. There are days where I look and think “5 MONTHS! What have I done in all this time?!”  And then there are periods of time, like this week, where I have great meetings and hear of new projects where I feel on top of the world. And then usually I drop back down to thinking “What the hell am I doing?” again for a few days.

5) Even if you plan and save, you will likely have to cut back in some places financially. For me this has been in buying clothes, the gym, hair coloring, and things like that. I have, however, kept up with social outings because when you are alone all day, they provide sanity, not to mention good blog fodder. Smile

6) You need to make time to move! I went from walking 3 miles each day to my office and running around all day to spending days at a time in my apartment making my way from the living room to the kitchen and back. I gained weight and felt tired and unhealthy. Part of this definitely had to do with my long winter illnesses, and I am making it a priority now to build in exercise time somewhere in the day.

7) Which leads me to my second to last point, before this turns into a book. Once I started throwing all sorts of energy out there, networking, and basically shoving my skills and experience in the face of anyone who would listen, I got busy. With any luck, if you decide to go this route of freelance work, you’ll soon have to turn down work and will be looking for more time in the day. I am not quite there yet but am hoping to be soon. People will also think that working from home and freelance work = plenty of time for daily leisure. BS. I spend an average of 12 hours a day in front of my computer and on calls. I’m not sitting on the deck with a bevvie. But they won’t believe you until they’ve lived it, so don’t bother.

8) Get off your own back! My mom said this to me a few weeks ago, and my husband reminds me almost daily to stop beating myself up if a lead falls through or if I have spent a whole week trying for a certain position never to hear a word. Working for yourself or looking for a new job takes a ton of energy, and being negative about yourself just steals that energy away. This is definitely one of those cases where I should listen to mom!

Have you taken a major leap of faith or made a life changing decision lately?

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Tags: freelance, job hunting, jobs, Marketing, work

  1. Andrea (Off Her Cork)’s avatar

    Great write up Meghan! These are definitely very helpful tips and I fully agree with your #7 tip. I keep telling my husband this, that if he puts more energy into talking about his work, networking, and such then he’ll get jobs and will be able to leave his full time job. Yet nothing. *sigh*


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thanks! For someone like me who is pretty shy, it is draining to constantly put yourself out there, but it definitely leads to some great things!


    2. Mellissa’s avatar

      Entering the unknown is so scary! I put notice in at my job and then am taking a week off before I start a new job on the 25th. Change frightens me.


    3. Elizabeth’s avatar

      Much of this, unsurprisingly, is highly relevant to me. I’m actually coming up the one year mark of when I left my full-time job (as in, two weeks from now). Definitely interesting to think about everything I’ve gotten to experience in the past year. I definitely had several moments of doubt and anxiety attacks last spring and summer. But I do not regret it for a second. Enjoyed hearing all of your thoughts and reflections.


    4. Daisy’s avatar

      This was such an inspiring post. I really adored reading it. Sometimes I think it is strange how I got into writing for fun when I work in finance. I guess if number crunching and excel sheets can keep me happy and pay the bills I better stick too it, EVEN when all I want to do is write about food……


    5. Boston Sports Woman’s avatar

      Just keep believing in yourself. You have an amazing support system, and they believe in you! I’m one of them!


    6. Raija’s avatar

      I am very proud of you. This is a TON of work, what you are doing. Sometimes people don’t appreciate how much mental and psychological work it takes to keep yourself going. I am cheering you on from the sidelines and inspired by all people who find creative ways to do work that makes them happy, even if it means taking risks and breaking out of conventional forms to find what works right for them. When I break out to write my romance novel series, I expect you to remind me of this ;).


    7. Megan’s avatar

      Yes, stop beating yourself up over it. You did a very brave thing that required a lot of strength! And I’m so proud! And I’m so happy that you’re feeling better about things, and I hope you will soon have to turn away work.

      I do wish that when I apply for jobs, I would at least get an “I hate you” reponse as opposed to nothing. :)


    8. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

      Good insight on how it really is for freelancers out there. I’m sending your positive wishes for the job hunt and will also keep an eye out for interesting openings :)

      Great seeing you guys last night – I had a fab time! See you again soon!


    9. Michelle’s avatar

      This is such a great blog post. You have been such a great hand holder for me as I’ve made some big changes in my life the past few months. I’m so grateful for your support and I know that a lot of people (including me) appreciate your honesty!


    10. Hadley’s avatar

      So proud of you, pal. Life changing decisions are not easy…mostly because they really change your life! Before you know it you will be busier than ever, so make sure to take time for yourself every day during this period. You never know what other passions you might discover!


    11. Meesh’s avatar

      you’re awesome. I want to take that leap of faith but I’m not financially prepared or in the right place to do so. I hope one day I can be in your position, pursuing my passion, even if it takes a little saving


    12. alicia’s avatar

      Megan – you inspire me every day. Making big changes in life is never easy – but I’m so confident that it will pay off for you!!


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