The best part of having the FTF community and hearing their LEAP stories is getting to see that freelancing can mean so many different things, and how
we take (or transition) into the LEAP doesn’t have to be the same for everyone.
I’m so excited to have Stacey on to share her LEAP story because I think she is a perfect example of finding freedom in whatever brings you the most happiness. (And usually, it’s skills we naturally have, but haven’t thought of a bankable before!)
Here’s Stacey K’s Story:
When did you make the leap exactly and how does it feel?
Technically, I finished my 9-5 gig at the end of July. Moving house unexpectedly, and working through a bunch of time consuming ‘life stuff’ meant that the actual freelancing started towards the end of August. Last week I invoiced for my first two definitive clients on the freelance journey, and that really felt like this new season was actually real! It feels AWESOME – the frustration and feeling ‘stuck’ in my 9-5 is no longer occupying a large corner of my brain, and I don’t miss it at all!
What kind of freelancing do you do?
I’m a wedding DJ and a content writer for businesses in the wedding industry. I run a wedding blog that is focused on the city I’m based in, which is great for networking, and gaining local clients in my niche (which means I can, like, leave the house to meet with people – a big plus for me!).
How long have you been planning to make the leap?
Freelancing has been in the back of my head for a long time, but it wasn’t until the start of this year that I actually wrote it down in my goals for 2014. “Go full-time freelance by September” and “make actual $ from writing” was written on paper, and that was just the commitment I needed to stop talking about it, and actually make it happen.
Did you choose a quit date and how did you choose it?
In January, I chose September of this year as a goal. I didn’t put too much thought into when the date would be, I just wanted to give myself enough time to save a little money beforehand, and have a well thought-out exit plan.
In which ways did you plan/prepare for the transition?
iIstarted taking freelance clients via Elance early in the year, knowing that it would make me feel like a ‘real’ writer, even if I wasn’t attracting clients organically. Getting paid for writing was very encouraging, and it helped me narrow my focus. In the beginning, all I knew was that I wanted to write freelance. As I gained a few ongoing clients, I realized that I was especially qualified to write in the wedding industry, as I’m a DJ (and plan to continue to DJ in the wedding industry indefinitely), and I’ve worked in the industry off and on for a decade. Then, when I had the idea to start a local wedding blog, I realized it could be an avenue for my freelancing freedom as well – writing a wedding blog hardly feels like work, but it has positioned me as an expert in the field very quickly.
Did you have a savings or buffer fund? If so, how much?
Um… about that. I meant to, but when it came time to make the leap, I hadn’t saved what I wanted to – in fact, I had hardly saved anything at all! However, I had the assurance of income from DJing weddings, which I knew would be enough to pay bills and survive until I was able to supplement my DJ income into a full-time income from freelancing.
What was the hardest part of making the leap?
I’m still in the process of setting up a website for my writing, and I find that hard to focus on! I also haven’t quite developed a routine, which would really help me be more efficient.
What’s the best part of finally freelancing full-time?
I am loving the freedom to spend time with people during the day and work in the evening! Before I made the leap, I had such limited time to hang out with people, because all of my freelance stuff had to be crammed into the evening, and spending time with people was continually at odds with building my business. Now, I can spend quality time with people, and schedule work time around that – I am LOVING being able to say ‘yes’ when people need help with things, and to have freed up space in my schedule to focus on relationships that got sadly neglected when I was juggling full time work and freelancing.
What is your advice for others wanting to find freedom through freelancing?
Try to find the place where your skills intersect with what you love. I’m so glad I realized I could focus on the wedding industry, because wedding ‘stuff’ doesn’t feel like work! I can’t help but engage on wedding-related social media on my days off – I just enjoy it, and don’t drag my feet to do it at all. I do love writing, and I know I am good at it, but focusing on a niche that I get excited about has sweetened the deal so much!
How did you celebrate?
I planned my last 9-5 day as the day before a weekend trip to a family reunion. It made the road trip and the time away feel like a celebration and a clear marker of the transition. My boyfriend is very supportive, and understands what a huge, exciting thing it is to be freelance, so I often text him with my little freelance victories as they come, and he celebrates with me. It’s always a bit sweeter to celebrate with someone who understands the scope and ‘leap’ that you’re taking!
Stacey K is a freelance writer and wedding DJ based in Edmonton, Canada. She loves music, travel and hanging out with the internet. She’s unashamedly in love with silly humour, which means that ace ventura and weird al yankovic are tied for the ‘most quoted by stacey’ award. You can find her on Twitter and blogging sporadically at www.delightadventure.com. Her business baby is www.yegwed.com.