Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One Year In

Exactly one year ago today, I told you guys that I left my full-time cubicle job to further pursue a career in food writing and professional cooking. So, how did the first year go? Surprisingly swimmingly, with lots of learned lessons along the way.

I've broken down the best parts of working for myself this past year, and the not-so-great parts that have come along with it (although the good definitely outweighs the bad). If you're contemplating freelancing full-time/working for yourself, I hope these things I've learned over the last 12 months will be helpful to you!

The Pros and Cons of Freelancing | TheEconomicalEater.com
Yes, that is booze. Backbar has free wi-fi from 4-6 p.m. (except on Tuesdays)!

The Pros:
-Every day is different. I currently work with eight different companies and publications, plus manage this here blog and my own private catering business. With that being said, it's nearly impossible to have two days that are the same. I love that. It's definitely not for everyone, but I've learned a non-routine work schedule works for me.

-Flexibility. I make my own schedule - I mean, how bad that can be? I thankfully have an immense amount of self-discipline, so I'm up early and typically work through 6 p.m., but I could sleep in if I wanted to (and I have, some days). Doctors' appointments, haircuts, etc. are also worlds easier to schedule and get to now.

-Loving what I do. This one was probably obvious, right? None of this feels like work. I get to eat, cook, write, and do online marketing every single day. I am beyond lucky and grateful!

-Meeting new people. Everyone always asks me: "Do you miss talking to people?" But I seriously have met more people in this last year than I ever did working at a company. I've been to more lunch dates, meetings, interviews (for articles I'm writing), blog events, etc. than I ever had the time (or the motivation) to do before.

The Cons:
-Inconsistent pay. I knew this before going into freelancing full-time, but it definitely takes some getting used to. And my eight jobs could turn into five tomorrow - there's never any guarantee. Making a living as a freelancer is 100% possible, but it isn't easy, and you need to be prepared for really great income months...and really bad ones.

-Never leaving work. Since what I'm currently doing doesn't feel like work, I check my email anywhere and everywhere I go. I take business calls off-hours (meaning, outside of the 9-5 block). I have even done a little work on the weekends (not including cooking gigs). It can be hard to turn off my "work mode," but I am working on it!

-Lessons learned. Actually, I see learning lessons as a pro, but the mistakes I've made this year are sort of under the pro and con categories. I think making mistakes is a great thing (as long as you learn from them), but when you work for yourself, you're the only one to blame. Let's just say when some people discover you freelance full-time, they automatically assume you have all the time in the world to work for them...for very little pay. I've taken a few low-paying writing jobs and gigs since I started freelancing - basically just to help make ends meet - but I thankfully learned early on that no job is worth compromising my credibility for. I left my corporate job to pursue the career I wanted, not to just make a few bucks in my yoga pants at home. My patience eventually paid off.

The bottom line is this: I wake up everyday excited to get to work. That has never happened before. (Well, at least not since I worked at Honey Dew Donuts when I was a teenager. That job rocked!).

I realize my work life may not be as successful in 2014 as it was in 2013. I am hopeful that it will be (if not more so), but you just never know. All I know is that working hard has really, really paid off so far, so I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. Oh, and hopefully I will do more cooking for this blog in 2014 - that's my #1 goal. ;)

Did you make any career changes in 2013?


  1. Love this post! I freelanced for 4 years and there are some days that I miss it soo much. But also some pros to working in an office full-time, too! I will probably go back to freelancing at some point and this post has me a little excited to do so. Congrats to you on your first year... I hope you have an even more successful 2014! :)


    1. Thank you so much, Sues! And I totally agree - there are definitely pros to working in an office full-time, too.

  2. Congrats on your many achievements this year! What a great example of "living the dream". Thanks for sharing; we all wonder about the realities of self-employment.

  3. I love this post. Thanks for sharing what you've learned along the way. I wish you an even better 2014! :)

    1. Thank you, Megan! Here's to a wonderful 2014 for you, too!

  4. Always love hearing how people have followed their hearts :) Glad you've had a successful year, I'm sure all those lessons will pay dividends in 2014! I finally got serious about job searching, hoping it pays off soon...

    1. Thanks so much, Shannon! And I'm sure your job searching will definitely pay off in the near future - my fingers are crossed for you!

  5. Congratulations on your first year! Wishing you more and more success in the coming years :) xo