There was a time that I worked a job I never wanted to leave. I was absolutely in love with what I did and though of course like any job with a few downsides, I never could imagine quitting no matter what. It was during this time that I began my photography career with the intention of being bi-vocational for a very long time. At that time in my life, I didn’t want to leave.
As life goes things change, and my job transformed into something I didn’t love as much as I had at first. In the meantime, my photography business was picking up, and I started to play around with the idea of doing that full-time instead. I had booking goals and some minimums to meet but eventually, in February of 2016, I turned in my two weeks’ notice and walked away from my day job. To say I am thankful for being able to work where I did five years is an understatement, but over time photography became my passion and I remember how thrilled I was to be able to work for myself full time.
There’s a lot of people that never get to experience what that’s like, try as they might. I have talked with so many creative entrepreneurs who desperately desire to leave their day job, stop their nighttime hustling, and work solely from home. I get that, and I relate 100%. But for those who are frustrated, discouraged, or simply wondering what it would look like to work for themselves, I want to share The Honest Truth about the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a full-time entrepreneur.
Let me start with the good – and there is SO much. I mostly get to set my own schedule. I switch from working at my stand-up desk to editing on the couch with Netflix in the background. I have an immense sense of accomplishment when I think of the fact that I run a successful small business that is able to contribute to our household income. If I want, I can take my birthday off. I have the freedom to be done with work when I want to instead of sitting at my desk and clocking in hours during the slow season just because I have to meet a quota.
I have to preface this next section with the fact that I am not complaining. If I ever wanted to, I could look for full-time employment again. I write this blog not to be negative, but to encourage those on the other side, who may never get to quit their desk jobs, to show that it is not all sunshine and unicorns. Please understand my heart in this :)
With that out of the way, I want to talk about the reasons you should LOVE your day job if that’s where you’re at.
· I’ve gotten to do some corporate work for a local home goods company, and I forgot how much I missed the camaraderie of being around co-workers. I don’t get lonely by myself, but there is something really cool about being able to talk with others all day. They celebrate your birthday with you, you develop relationships, and get to be social. That is awesome.
· For the less disciplined, setting your own schedule can be a bear. In the off-season, I have a much harder time finding the motivation to keep working and in the busy season, it’s hard to stop. There is almost zero accountability. The buck stops with you. It’s a lot of responsibility to be at home all day and stay focused.
· There is a freedom to having a job that pays the bills and being creatively free to do what you want and say no to what you don’t want when you don’t have to stress about money. I am so thankful I was able to make an equal contribution to the household income last year, but it is a constant thought in my mind and each year is a completely blank slate. It’s hard not to feel a lot more desperate when bookings are slow and it seems like everybody else has more ______ than you do. The fear of failure is at its highest when you’re going it alone – and you have nobody to talk it out with during the day.
· Because of the above, a LOT of creatives do more than just what we publicize. Don’t let anyone fool you – it is much rarer than you think to find someone who equally supports their families, or even themselves, without taking on work that may not be as glamorous. In my quest for transparency, I run marketing and social media programs for three different clients. I train creatives in SEO and as I mentioned above, I have taken on some corporate work in the off-season. I also work as the Features Editor for Tidewater and Tulle. This year for taxes I had seven W-2s in addition to my photography business. Truthfully, I love each one of these things differently, but to say I only do photography would be incorrect for me – and most other people out there. There’s a lot we just can’t see :)
So there it is. The Honest Truth…a small window into the life of a creative entrepreneur. If you’re struggling at your job, if you’re wishing to go full-time and just can’t, let this be an encouragement to you – and I didn’t even mention medical benefits and retirement! And please, for those who are extra discouraged and want to go all in, I would love for you to send me an email so we can grab coffee and I can help and encourage you further.
May the truth set you a little more free today than you were before :)
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