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I Found Freedom: Ali Karukas

There is nothing I loved more before making the leap out of the cubicle than hearing stories of real people who’ve done it themselves.

Here’s the deal: sometimes, it can feel like it just isn’t possible.

How could you possibly leave behind the security of a salary?
Where will you get clients?
What if it doesn’t work out?

These are the kinds of questions you are likely asking yourself.

But the reality: Freedom IS possible.

I’ve done it.
My readers have done it.
And Ali Karukas has done it too.

Here’s her story:

Ali KarukasWhen did you make the leap exactly and how does it feel?

I finally made the big leap in July 2014!

I can’t imagine going back to a 9-5 job and working for someone else – I love it.

What kind of freelancing do you do?

I’m a web designer and developer

How long have you been planning to make the leap?

1 year.

Did you choose a quit date and how did you choose it?

Sort of, I had been living in Washington, DC for 3 years and wanted to move back to Boston, MA where my family and friends are. When I decided to make the move, I chose to put all my efforts into creating my business instead of looking for a 9-5 job.

In which ways did you plan/prepare for the transition?

  1. I would create websites for friends and family for free
  2. I talked to a business coach to help me find clarity with what I was doing
  3. I would tell everyone I met about my business so that people would refer their friends and family to me.

Did you have a savings or buffer fund? If so, how much?

Yes, of course. I had been saving money for awhile because I knew I eventually I wanted to start my own business and knew that I wouldn’t generate a lot of money the first couple of months. I saved about $6,000. This was enough for me to live on for 4 months if I didn’t generated any kind of income.

What was the hardest part of making the leap?

Knowing that I wasn’t going to make a steady income for awhile and I would have no benefits.

What’s the best part of finally freelancing full-time?

The best part of being a full-time freelancer is the flexibility. If I have a doctors appointment or a lunch date in town I don’t have to ask for permission. The only thing I have to do is make up the time later, which is ok by me.

What is your advice for others wanting to find freedom through freelancing?

Don’t wait until everything is perfect; just go for it. There is never going to be a perfect moment to make the big leap.

How did you celebrate?

I went out to dinner with my boyfriend and bought myself a new home office (desk, scanner, printer, dual screen monitor).

Thanks Ali!

Ali KarukasAli Karukas is a freelance web designer and developer at AK Designs located in Boston, Massachusetts. She creates websites for clients who are helping to change the world by bringing enthusiasm, creativity and life-changing ideas to the web.

When she is not building websites she is empowering others to learn how to build their own site through her blog post and tutorials that she posts on her website & group on Facebook. To sign up for the free group go to:



Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Congrats Ali! So exciting! I love your advice of not waiting until everything is perfect to take the leap. Fear of the unknown is holding me back!

    • Thanks, Jocelyn! I found myself always worrying about everything not being in place before I launched my business. But I quickly learned that I’ll always be adjusting and tweaking things as I go.

  • My story is very similar to Ali’s. Great interview. 🙂

  • Yes! I love it! I just quit my day job a few weeks ago. It’s quite exhilarating. Congrats to you Ali!

  • Inspiring interview! I love reading stories like this 🙂

  • Thanks for posting this interview, Leah!

    It’s been quite the journey but I’m lovin’ every step of it.

  • Kirsten La G

    Love what you’re doing here Leah! And love reading inspirational interviews like this one!

  • Love this interview! Big congrats to Ali 🙂

    Thanks so much for this, Leah!

  • I love a good freedom story too 🙂 Thanks for sharing Leah and Ali!

  • Congrats, Ali, I love your story! And thanks, Leah, for sharing it here. I look forward to more!

    Side note: I really want to know how Ali budgeted a $1500 a month cost-of-living in D.C. Los Angeles is not nearly so kind. 🙂

    • I was able to budget $1500 because I use public transportation (instead of a car to get around) and my rent is pretty cheap because I have two other roommates. I live pretty cheap but sometimes it can be tough just getting started.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      There is one great thing about having a small buffer fund: It forces you to make quick growth a top priority and motivates you to put in the work to make it work. Usually, if you really want freedom bad enough, living below your means during the transition if necessary is super easy. Shameless pitch: can’t wait for our LEAP students to work through the “How much should you save” section as that’s a big part of having the confidence to make the leap! (and not everyone needs a buffer fund!)

  • What a great story to share with us! Congrats 🙂

  • I gotta say just the quote on the graphic singlehandedly calmed my nerves. I was stuck in the “gotta make money, gotta hustle” mindset for the past few days and the quote reminded me that – wait, I got into business so that if I want to take it slow, I can. Fuck what anybody else thinks. 😀

  • Maisie

    A journey towards freedom is always inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing!

  • Congrats on making the leap! Love the photos, too!

  • Excited for these vignette posts – it is always so inspiring to hear of how others have made their leap…and gets me antsy for the day I’m able to shift gears from side-biz to full-time. Congrats Ali on taking the leap!

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