When I worked as a content marketer at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system, I took a personality test.
Everyone at the company took it. We shared our results, and there was something different about mine: I scored very low on compliance.
What does that mean? Well, it means I am not great at following rules, that I find policies annoying and boring and that I was probably meant to work as a freelancer, instead of as an in-house content marketer.
It was another sign, in a long slew of them, that it was time to bite the bullet and quit.
I loved my job and my colleagues, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted the freedom of freelancing and helping a wide array of clients, rather than just one. Last month, I left my job and founded Stories by Emma, my own content marketing and freelance writing consultancy.
You’re Isolated, and You Need a Network
Right now, I’m focusing on writing this story and feeling great. But I’m also alone.
When you have a job, you are surrounded by colleagues who get what you do. You can turn around and ask for their input, or just gossip with them about your favorite TV shows.
When you are on your own, you have to work to build a network. Your new friends might be people who live in Illinois, who you only talk to via email and Twitter. In general, you have to make a concerted effort.
I am grateful to have met other freelancers through Boston Content (shoutout to Liz Wellington!) to meet for coffee to talk about rates, time management struggles and how to grow our businesses, but I have to be deliberate about setting up these coffee dates.
Your Family and Friends Won’t Get it
“Want to come over?,” my mom texts me.
“Um, I’ve kind of got like 75 things to do."
My mom understands my new job in theory, but, in reality, is confused when I say I can’t come to the beach at 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday.
My freelance friends have reported similar sentiments. Our friends and family are supportive, but don’t really understand what we do, how we operate or why we have chosen this path. Most expect us to have more time to hang out, rather than less.
Freedom Will Taste Sweeter Than Ice Cream
Last week, I went to a fitness class at 1:00 p.m., went shopping with my Mom, and slept until 9 a.m. I no longer gave up two hours of my day to a commute, and I have pretty much given up pants.
I never could have done any of these things with a full-time job — and it is awesome. It really is as wonderful, liberating and satisfying as I thought it would be.
You Get to Make Your Own Rules
Remember that non-compliance thing?
Well, as a freelance content marketer, I get to make my own rules. I decide how many hours I want to work in a day, how much vacation time I get and which clients I want to work with.
This wouldn’t work for everyone. It is overwhelming to have to figure everything out yourself; it feels very sink or swim.
You Lose Stability, But Gain Excitement
A full-time job gives you a steady paycheck, great health insurance and a set of expectations.
On my own, I don’t have any of that. I have given up stability in exchange for excitement — there are new projects, new clients and so many exciting things to see, learn and do.
This also means I live and breathe business at all hours of the day. When I had a full-time job, I slept easily at night. Now? Not so much.
Money Becomes Weird
Suddenly, you know how many blog posts you have to write to buy a new sundress. You have to meet with an accountant to talk about taxes. Instantly, you have so much more responsibility when it comes to your finances.
This is both good and bad — it has convinced me of the value of my work and encouraged me to go after bigger, more challenging projects that come with a bigger paycheck. But, it is also extremely stressful. Employers do a lot to keep you from feeling this stress.
Going Off On Your Own is a Big Life Change
Before I quit, I didn’t anticipate how different this was going to feel.
All of a sudden, I have the best job ever, but simultaneously feel un-employed. It is such a big change, and really hard to get used to.