"You want to do what? Can you really make money at that?" is the reaction I usually get when I talk about wanting to leave the 9-to-5 world to stay home and become a full-time blogger. It’s said in the same condescending “Oh, that’s cute” voice used when a three-year-old says she wants to be the next president or pop star.
Now don’t get me wrong, my family and friends are supportive of my blog and writing, but many view it as more of a hobby than something “real.” But I know it’s real. So the question is, do I have what it takes to leave the work world I’ve known and make a-go of this, writing in my space and picking up freelance work because of my blog?
Can my blog become a proving ground for future writing assignments?
Image: Danielle Tsi Photography
After going through seven losses over the past five years, I realized I wanted -- perhaps needed -- to help others who are faced with similar experiences. I started blogging as a way to help me heal and grieve. I continued writing because I connected with a community and was able to say the unspeakable. I found my voice, and perhaps by becoming a voice, I found the courage to step outside my comfort zone.
I’ve spent the last 18 years climbing the corporate ladder, creating a successful career in marketing and events. And while I like my current job and adore my coworkers, it’s no longer my passion. On top of that, this past May, we welcomed our son home through domestic adoption. Now that I finally have a baby at home to parent, I wrestle even further with working outside of the home. It pangs me to leave him with someone who may be wonderful and caring, but isn't me. I worked too hard to get here, to not actually be here.
I know I’m not the first to feel like this. And I’m not the first who needs to remain a two-income household. We’ve crunched the numbers every which way, and at this point, purely staying at home isn’t an option. So what is? I started exploring and even toyed with the idea of going to graduate school for my Masters in Social Work (MSW) to further my credibility in the work I really want to do: helping people who are going through what I went through.
But then I came across BlogHer ’13.
And a lot of things came together in my mind.
The conference introduced me to people I only “knew” online, who were actually doing what I wanted to do. They DO exist! Sure, an MSW would provide me a deeper background, but experience and emotions provide me with an understanding that can’t be taught. Not to mention, I want to spend more time at home, not away studying and in class.
And so at BlogHer ’13 I had an a-ha moment: Just like those women, I could stay home to be with our son AND get paid to write.
Now, my naïve days are long gone, so I know that a-ha moments aren’t miracles. They don’t happen overnight, or without determination and hard work. And a plan. And connections. And guts. And probably a lot of antacids. That said, I now know that it IS possible, and have met some folks who can back that up and are willing to help.
I also realize that along with making a change as drastic as this comes sacrifice. And in this case, it’s sure to come in the financial form. I currently work for a non-profit, so I’m not raking in the big bucks. However, I do have a consistent salary that we can count on. I worry about keeping money coming in, and how long it’ll take me to get even close to this as a writer. My husband and I wonder what my writing at night will do to our relationship. Will we just be like ships passing in the night?
Then there’s the learning curve, questions, and doubt:
- When do I contribute a post as a sample or for exposure?
- How do I convince them to pay me?
- Do I have to be the web master of my domain?
- Can I write on demand? During naps?
- How will I schedule my time, not over-commit, and find time to sleep? What if I’m not good enough?
The list goes on, but I’ve come to live with uncertainty and rejection. Living in the unknown is not my favorite, but after everything I’ve gone through these past five years, I’m more comfortable in that space. I know that I’m not afraid to put myself out there to tell my story and ask for it to be told. And if living in this space allows me to parent the way I want to, while doing something I’m passionate about, it’s a chance I’m willing to take.
Have you ever thought about quitting your job and becoming a full-time writer, too?
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