Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Making It!

Wow, can you believe I've been too busy to post?!

It's been three months since I started this freelance thing full-time. It's been a crazy ride. I'd like to share some of it with you.

The first month was bad. I spent all day, every day, sending out résumés and inquiries, and getting back rejection after rejection. It was terribly disheartening. In fact, it made me so upset I decided not to do it every day. I switched to looking for work only every other day, spending the rest of my time blogging, writing, and taking care of chores and errands. I also applied for and began receiving unemployment benefits. Although the money didn't amount to much, it was better than nothing.

The second month was worse. Still I sent out letter after letter, and still I got back, "Thanks, but no thanks." I started to doubt myself. Did I not have the skills to be a writer and editor? Was my work not good enough? Did I not have the gumption to work for myself? Was I going to fail?

I finally reached my breaking point. "Maybe I'll go back to biotech," I thought. "I have a ton of marketable skills. I could get a job easily."

Ha! The employers in that market consist of the company that laid me off, their big, ugly competitor (who's more ruthless when it comes to layoffs, I hear), and a startup that I know regularly lays off scores of people, only to hire them back as soon as the books are back in the black. Not appealing.

"So," I told myself, "it looks like you're stuck with editing. Better make it work." I'm so thankful I reached that point and realized there was no turning back. Knowing my fallback plan had fallen through gave me no choice but to succeed.

So the second month ended, and I was getting desperate. I felt I had used every resource at my disposal to find clients. Where was I supposed to look now? And then, suddenly, work happened. I got one, then two, then three clients. The work rolled in, and so did the pay. I was making it!

Now, at the end of the third month, I realize this is pretty unusual, and amazingly good. I have enough work to fill my time, and I'm making enough money to pay my bills. I've actually turned down work that wasn't a good fit. Having spoken with other freelancers, I now understand that my timeline is nearly unheard of. Some people spend months or even years working toward the goal I've already reached.

The nagging worry in my brain will probably never truly go away. What if I lose my best clients? What if I can't keep bringing in money? What if I run through all my savings? But those worries  push me to succeed. They ensure I make good use of my time, and develop positive and mutually beneficial relationships with my clients. They keep me looking for work even when I have enough work to fill my time and bank account. They drive me to network and improve my skills.

Some days I'm still startled to wake up and realize that my business is successful. I constantly have to battle the suspicion that I have no idea what I'm doing.

But I'm learning, and I'm improving. And, finally, I'm doing what I want to do. Thanks for following me on this tremendous journey. You've all been amazing, and given me such support!