Just joining in? Read Part One here :)
I started seriously planning to quit my day job in the spring of 2010. At twenty four I knew a lot about what I didn’t want to do, and a little about what I did want to do- I wanted a job where I could be creative, use my design and interpersonal skills, get into exciting debates and conversations and where my my blog would be welcomed as an asset instead of misunderstood as a secret-emo-diary-rant space. I wanted to work on handmade projects and digital projects, to have the opportunity to use the photography and marketing sides of my brain.
I wanted a job that I was pretty sure didn’t exist. In the middle of a big conversation about what I wanted for myself, I remember saying to my husband, ”I think I’m just doomed!!”
The situation was frustrating. I didn’t fit working in entertainment because I didn’t want to be married to my work over my family, but I didn’t fit into a normal workplace either and I was going to make myself even more unhappy if I kept trying. Jesse and I decided together that the best thing we could do for me, and for our relationship, was to invent something different. It was wonderful and terrifying, and I felt like maybe I was a little less doomed than I thought.
Once Jesse and I had decided that working for myself was going to be the best thing, I went planning crazy. We have a house, two dogs, vet bills, and two cars to juggle- and it’s nice to have little extras like heat in the winter. I knew that while this might be best for my heart, I had to find a way to make it work on paper before I could feel good about asking Jesse to make sacrifices for me.
The first thing I did was take a good hard look at our financial situation. At the time Jesse and I were considering selling our house and moving into a larger home- at 730 sq. ft. our house is as cute as a button but is also a tight squeeze. We had already had the realtor come to estimate the listing price and were planning to list in the coming weeks.
I sat down with a pen and paper and made three budgets:
1. Our current financial situation adjusted to be as lean as possible while still saving for emergencies, vet bills, and major house and car repairs.
2. A budget based on Jesse’s income + my making minimum wage
3. A budget based on Jesse’s income + my making no income
The first budget acted as the baseline of what was working for us, but eliminated what we were able to give up. The second budget gave me a realistic idea of how much I would have to “make up” in freelance + creative income to balance our budget if I left my job and took a lower stress/commitment job that would let me shift my focus to my creative work. The third budget was my ultimate guide- what I would have to make to keep us above water if I was relying just on creative work.
At the time I was exploring all kinds of freelance work- photography, writing, and blog design. I knew I wanted to start an etsy store, and this was a great opportunity to jumpstart my plan, and I was in talks to start designing blogs for Freckled Nest. None of my plans were set in stone but I knew I could put myself into them with everything I had, if I had the chance. As soon as I had broken out the numbers it was crystal clear: I would have to work hard, and we couldn’t sell our house, but I could make it happen! We called our realtor and called off the sale, and I started putting my plan into action.
Because of our financial situation there was no way I could quit my job cold turkey, so I planned for the next best thing: I would make my blog as good as I could, do all the paperwork to make A Little Thistle a real registered business, and start working on creative collaborations in the mean time. I worked at my office job, but with a new passion: I knew the end was in sight and I was working there for a reason now! I was saving towards taking a big leap, and that was worth as much paperwork as I could do in a day.
After several months of saving for a “Just In Case” fund, I started taking on blog design clients through Freckled Nest. Soon after I had reached a place when I could jump into my “Step Two” budget, and work a Just For Now job at minimum wage making up the difference with design work.
This was one of the best decisions I made!
I started working at a florist’s shop in a cool neighbourhood, working with clients and with my hands. I had some income stability and could take on more design projects, and I finally had the time to start my etsy shop. As my sales grew I started having to get really serious about time management, and within two months I realized that between design and etsy I was already at a place where I could step into my “Step Three” budget! I started planning to take the leap in the new year… and then I got an even better offer!
I’m currently the Project Manager and an Intermediate Designer for Freckled Nest Design, as well as being the co-owner and second in command of Freckled Nest with my mentor & friend Leigh-Ann. I work on my whole creative life in our studio- from my blog to my etsy shop and design work. It’s a quirky and cool vintage environment that I have trouble staying away from on the weekends! I never thought it would have happened so quickly, but having a solid plan to follow helped me more than I can express.
My original timeline for going full time creative was two years. The idea was that it would allow me time to produce lots of super high quality work, and express who I am in between my decision and my leap. It put me in a position where I could say yes to opportunities that came my way, and grow gradually according to what was working for me. In the end I went full time in nine months, but I never felt rushed or hurried- I was just working on my two year plan once piece at a time. I gave me drive, motivation, and the goal I needed to make me feel like I was working towards something real instead of hoping for something out of my control to change things.
The past year has been a whirlwind, and I still don’t think it’s all sunk in! But I’m having so much fun being swept away by it, and I’m trying to embrace every crazy, beautiful moment.
Have you been daydreaming about quitting your day job for your creative hobby?
I’d love to help if I can by answering any questions you might have, and connecting you with my readers who could help! Leave your questions, concerns, and roadblocks you’re having trouble navigating in the comments below and I might feature you in the next post in this series! :)