When I was in college, I wanted to be a magazine editor (preferably fashion or lifestyle) in New York City. It was all I thought about.
I applied for jobs and internships all over NY as often as I could during my junior and senior year. But nothing really came of it.
I wasn’t deterred. I knew the NYC magazine world was a tough business to get into.
It was the second semester of my senior year and I had no idea what I’d be doing after graduation. I wasn’t worried, though. I already had a good job working for the local newspaper’s website and writing a weekly column in the print edition and features for its entertainment supplement.
And then something happened: my professor told me about a magazine internship she thought I should apply for… in Southern California.
Funnily enough, that same professor told me about that same internship (it was an annual thing) the year before, when I was a junior. I brushed it off because it seemed like a far-off idea to leave everything and go away for the summer.
But as a senior with no after-graduation plans who dreamed of being a magazine editor it was pretty much the best thing ever.
So I applied and got the internship and moved out to SoCal for the summer of 2005. I spent three months writing and editing for Reptiles magazine (by choice, I love reptiles!!), as well as helping out with other magazines within the company when they needed a hand (they had dozens).
I loved getting to dress up every day and go to the office, because that’s what I always saw my mom do growing up and that’s what I was always told you did. It was one of the best summers of my life.
Then I got offered a job as an editor for a pet products magazine, which I accepted without hesitation. I loved SoCal and loved working as a magazine editor.
But then I was really living out there. I wasn’t just subletting an apartment for 3 months in student housing, I was renting an house with a roommate and living further from the office, which required a longer commute.
And it made me realize something… why the fuck am I driving in HELL traffic to commute 15 miles from my house to the office to sit at a desk and go online and do all these things I could be doing from home?
I loved Southern California more than anything and can’t wait to move back there sometime in the near future. But what I didn’t love was working in an office.
I’d do anything I could to escape being there, including manifesting illness so I had to go to the doctor. And every time I’d be out of the office during the day, I would see tons of people out and about, enjoying their day. Eating lunch, drinking coffee, not living their life in an office all day.
And in that moment, I decided that’s what I wanted. To be FREE all day long and do whatever I wanted to do.
I had no idea how I’d make it happen, but I believed it was a future possibility.
Toward the end of my stint as a magazine editor, I hated going to the office so much that some days I’d roll in unshowered, wearing khakis, a hoodie and Chuck Taylors. I blamed it on the fact that I wasn’t doing enough writing and I wanted to be doing more writing.
So I left and moved with my now-husband to Houston to start a new adventure.
But then the same thing happened again. I got a great job, I loved it for a while, but I hated the commute and having to work in an office all day. And this job was a 100 percent online job, which meant I could do the whole thing from home (or anywhere).
And lucky for me I had a great boss who allowed our team to work from home 3 days a week. It gave me a preview of the life I wanted.
The freedom life. A life where I’m totally in control of my time and location.
But it still wasn’t enough.
I so badly wanted to find a job where I could work from home every day and never have to go to the office except for very rare occasions.
The problem was there weren’t very many jobs like that out there. Or at least I hadn’t been able to find any.
And whenever I jumped jobs for money (which I did often, I was totally driven by the money in my corporate career), I’d run into the same issues. I constantly tried to get my bosses to see how much more I’d be getting done if I was working from home full-time. But they’d never go for it.
I applied for work-from-home jobs all the time. Nothing came of all the energy I was putting into it.
That’s when I realized I had to stop giving other people permission to control my time and location.
I had to take back my power. I had to create my own freedom.
So that’s what I did. I quit my corporate day job in March 2012 and walked away to do my own thing where I’m in control of my time and my location.
I had no clue how I’d make money. It was pretty damn scary, actually, but I had so much adrenaline going from finally doing the thing I wanted to do–quit my job to work for myself–that I didn’t care. I just trusted that I took the action and something would work out.
And what worked out at the time, was freelance writing.
Back when I first moved from SoCal to Houston I couldn’t find a job right away and I didn’t want to settle for any crappy-ass job. So I freelanced for the first few months I was there, and I made a damn good income.
A job eventually came along, but I freelanced on the side now and then just because extra money is always nice. And there I was in 2012, having to figure out how to make my own money.
So I turned, once again, to freelance.
I wrote articles and marketing copy and feature stories and I interviewed people and I wrote my ass off. And I made a living.
It wasn’t a lot at first. In 2012 I brought in around $16k. But it was the best year of my life. Because it had been all on my terms and I was in charge of my time and location.
It’s the ultimate thing I value above everything else. Freedom.
My definition of freedom have evolved a lot over the years and I continue to create more freedom and it continues to be more and more on my terms. But that’s where it all started.
With freelance writing.
It gave me an income when I was in a job transition. It helped me support myself and my family when I first quit my job to work for myself.
Eventually I went from $16k to $25k to $32k and growing. Now I’ve added in several other income streams and make more money doing more things I enjoy.
But it all started with freelance.
Freelance writing = freedom.
Before you go jumping the gun here and quitting your job to freelance write, I have to add that freelance writing is a tough business. It’s an uncertain and sometimes inconsistent business. It’s an ever-changing business.
But the toughest part is being mentally strong enough to handle the freedom and all that comes with it.
Because now you’re in charge. You have to apply for gigs and you have to handle the payment arrangements and you have to keep track of everything and you have to pay taxes and discipline yourself to do the work by deadline.
Now your income is in your own hands.
And if you can’t handle the uncertainty and being in control and having the discipline to get shit done, the freelance life isn’t for you.
But if you can handle all of that, there are more and more opportunities available every day because so many companies are building online presences and on the internet, content is king.
Content can’t write itself. Which means they need writers to write the content for them.
There’s a whole lot more to know about freelance writing and living the freelance life. More than I can share in this post right now.
I really just wanted to inspire you to see that the freedom you so desperately want is yours, so long as you’re willing to do what it takes to create it.
Freelance writing isn’t the only option, obviously, but it is a great way to get paid for your words and to make a living as a writer.
And it also frees up your time so you can do more of your own writing too.
I’ve had the freedom life for 5+ years now and I will never go back.
Dream life or bust,