After writing about my 2014 goals, I started thinking again about the commitment to try freelancing for a year. Why a year? Why a commitment?
First, let me tell you that freelancing is equal parts exciting and terrifying to me. I love the idea of trying to be my own boss and not being tied to one particular stream of income. (Losing two jobs in one year has made me incredibly skeptical of so-called “stable jobs.”) I like the sense of opportunity that freelancing gives me. I like being able to decide what my worth is and declining work that isn’t a good fit for me. What I don’t like about freelancing is the same thing that everyone dislikes: the uncertainty of work and income. Freelancing is not for the timid.
But I am kinda timid, at least about whether or not I can really make it as my own boss. Some days I feel very empowered about working independently, and other days I want to run to the nearest job posting and send my resume to every single listing. Now that I have some sense of the peaks and valleys in this style of work, I know that if I’m going to give it an honest try, I need to stick with it for a respectable length of time, long enough to let myself take risks, be creative, and get better at what I do.
A year seems like a fair length of time to focus my energies on freelancing. I’m not saying that I expect to be wildly successfully in a year’s time. It would be nice to break even, financially speaking. It would be even nicer to save some money, which is something I used to do. More importantly, a year of full-time freelancing will tell me if I want to keep doing this, if I’m willing to take risks and make sacrifices for the joy of being independent and free to be me.
So far this year, I have wrestled a lot with the question about whether to apply for jobs for the latter half of the year. The first thing I asked myself was, “What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t have a ‘regular’ job, even a regular part-time job?” The answer? I make no money at all for the rest of 2014. Based on my tutoring success in College Station so far, I think that’s unlikely to happen. I could be under-employed, which is stressful but it also leads to new ideas. I decided to expand my tutoring into chemistry because I saw that there was a need for chemistry tutors in the marketplace. I’ve had to work to bring my chemistry skills up to date, but that’s okay—I like studying chemistry. I won’t expand my tutoring into a subject that I don’t enjoy studying.
The other realization I had about freelancing is that I am open to work other than tutoring, but it needs to be a good fit for me. So I’ll stay open to opportunities, but I won’t be devoting huge swaths of time to job applications. I’d rather work on my tutoring business than search for other jobs.
Finally, I know it sounds cheesy, but I want to spend the next year saying, “I believe in myself.” I want to test myself, to see what I can do with this time. Freelancing is very different than having regular hours at a steady job—that much I have already seen. I think I have a lot to offer—as a tutor, as a writer, as a human being. I see this year as a challenge, and I feel ready for it.
Next up in my unofficial series about freelancing: budgeting! Yay? (Actually, I love talking about budgets, but as you already know, I am a nerd.)