Last year, I made one of the toughest, but most important, decisions of my life when I left my steady job as a preschool teacher to enter the unpredictable world of freelancing. I’ve never been one to take risks up to that point. As a single mom,I worked my nine to-five every day to support my two young children, and never thought to make a career switch that could have turned everything I worked for on its head. But I later realized that I didn’t need to grind my life away; I had it in me to do more. With the help of self-determination, amazing clients, and some words of wisdom that will stay with me forever, I decided to take control of my future and create a life I had previously only dreamt of.
A shift in focus
When I landed a job as a preschool teacher, I was thrilled to work with kids and put my elementary education degree to use. I decided to pursue another degree right around the same time to meet my job’s continuing education requirements. I chose to study English because I’d loved literature and writing for as long as I can remember. I had also been blogging since my teens, so if anything, I thought the degree would be a good way to hone my writing skills.
About a year before I became a teacher, I started writing for some other clients and blogs besides my own. It was more of a hobby than anything else. I had just a couple of clients who I wrote some blog posts for every week. I never gave it much thought as a career until I noticed other bloggers and writers in my network turning it into full-time work. As interesting as it seemed, I didn’t want to be one of those “starving writers” you always hear about, especially when I had two little ones to support.
Still, the thought of working remotely and writing – something I loved as much as teaching – continued to stick out in my mind because I’d have more time with my children. So, I started building up my writing slowly, taking on a few extra clients and completing work for them after I came home from teaching all day. One year later, thanks to a few happy clients who referred me to others and the added support of my English degree, I was struggling to balance teaching full-time with this seemingly spontaneous additional job.
Balancing my dreams and fears
I knew I couldn’t juggle both jobs, but I was over-the-moon excited about the possibility of becoming a freelance writer and working from home. It meant I’d be my own boss, and all my hard work and determination had seemed to lead me here for a reason. But I felt irresponsible for contemplating leaving a steady, incredible job for the unpredictability of freelancing. Yet, here I was, possibly throwing it all away to write, never knowing if I’d struggle to pick up clients for steady work or get scammed by clients unwilling to pay.
The turning point came one day as I read the current “Writer’s Market.” In one of the introductory articles about secrets of successful freelance writers was the answer I’d been looking for: “Secret #2: They Take Risks.”
That was all the push I needed. The next day, I walked into work and turned in my resignation.
Pursuing the freelancer life
I’m now a year into my full-time freelancer journey. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the reliability of a full-time job. I’ve dealt with scam artists trying to get free work without paying, competing with hundreds of other writers for bylines in major publications, and the hassle of drawing up lengthy contracts before starting a job. And I constantly hustle as a freelancer. The moment I stop searching for new clients my business can fall through the cracks and leave me without enough income to support my family.
But I’d be lying if I said that everything I did wasn’t worth the benefits. Aside from being my own boss and working from home, I also have the benefit of educating others in ways that align with my own interests and expertise. Instead of working with children, I write about education, parenting, advocating for special needs, and children’s health. I also help others understand that they, too, can have their dream career. It’s a different way of teaching, but I believe it’s just as important.
If I hadn’t made this career leap, I’m not sure that I would feel fulfilled like I do. As much as I loved teaching, freelance writing is my calling. I would never have realized what I was missing out on if I hadn’t taken this one very large risk in my life. I’d always gone down the sure path instead of the risky one for the sake of my children. I realized that, sometimes, taking the risky path gives me the kick in the pants that I need to create the life I want for myself and my kids.