“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”
– H. Jackson Brown Jr.
If you read my previous post about all the careers I’ve had before becoming a photographer, it’s a lot. But aside from me jumping around and dabbling here and there, there was that one thing I knew immediately after college that I wanted, my end goal. That was, work for myself.
The man. Working for the man, oh the hours, the cubicle, HR, asking for time off, sick days, blah. At times I didn’t mind what I did, often the culture was so awesome at some of the places I worked but deep down, I wanted to do what I loved doing, all the time and survive doing it, even if it meant living with less because freedom in the end, is priceless.
Of course there was the option of marrying a rich dude and then not having to work. I’m kidding. But the goal was never to not work. I never grew up saying, I want to be a mom. I grew up always saying, I want to have my own career. Perhaps because (though not 100% certain yet), that eventually nearly every one becomes a mom. It would sorta be like saying, “I want to get old one day,” we’ll all participate in it, so why put it on the hurry up to do list? So the career thing, I wanted to accomplish so many different things, and when I began to outgrow them, I’d move onto the next. At the end of my life, I wanted to look back and see a resume I was proud of, and a life that I was happy to experience and have lived. Trying new things, failing at others, and then moving onto the next adventure.
This post is definitely not a – hey quit your day job of working for the man and jump into self employment! Goodness sakes, for all things good and holy don’t just do that without a game plan or plentiful prayer or a heft stash of cash to help you through the tough times. But even if say you don’t want to leave corporate – I loved working for big companies like E!, Gannett, I always thought the bigger the better. And actually, if Google or Apple offered me a job I’d totally do cartwheels. The bottom line or should I say the center of everyone’s heart is this: To do what we love. And if you’ve read my blog long enough, you know I love setting goals because I believe writing down your goals helps you achieve them. Let’s start with a game plan.
Figuring out what you love. So you can do it.
Not everyone who visits my blog wants to be a photographer. Some of you have other career goals or something related to weddings and some not.
First thing to figuring out what you want to do is this:
- What do you LOVE doing? If you didn’t get paid to do it, what do you enjoy?
Now, can you make money off it? Because in order to do it all the time, you’ll need to make a living. Find ways to make money to survive, then figure out if you can work under someone, a company, a person, or if you should do it yourself and jump! Often you can love ministry and work for a church. You can love photography, and work in a studio or for a publication. Don’t think that doing what you love necessarily means working on your own.
Steps to prepare if you are juggling a “full-time” job and you want to be on your own:
- Once your raise has been offered, ask if you could stay at your current salary and in lieu of a raise, get time off. Whether it’s every other Friday off, or even bolder, every Friday off. Just be aware that some limitations apply for benefit coverage. And if your employer is hesitant, ask them to give it 3 or 6 months just to try to see that you can do your work in less time and be happier.
- Get a part-time job doing something not so fabulous, or fabulous, and will pay the basic bills as you build up your business doing what you love.
- Do a few concept shoots, or other projects for free to build up your portfolio. This is especially important if you are still managing a day job. Use this time to place your chess pieces for the big jump.
- Build your business now before you actually have to. Before you have nothing but your business. Brand strengthen – your logo, collateral, and website. Blog as if you are doing this full time. Take people out to lunch, coffee, just love on people and show them you love what you do.
Things to know about being self employed:
- Know that insurance is approximately $100 per month depending on your deductible. Mine is that per month, and it includes dental and vision. I chose a deductible that was high enough that wouldn’t put me in any debt if something horrifically bad were to happen. I however, do not engage in rigorous activities so I believe that should make me 80% less likely to use my entire deductible.
- Leave the ego behind. Hate to break it to you, but unless you are incredibly blessed, you may not be able to do it full-time your first year if you’re trying. You might fail. Welcome to self-employment, it’s scary! But you know what, you have to try. And if you fail, corporate is still there. You can always go back and you can always get a part-time job. Doing something full-time doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’re a success. You can still juggle a part-time job and do what you love and still consider yourself successful because if the end goal is to have freedom and do what you love, then friend, you’ve got it.
- Continually work on your craft. You don’t get better as time goes on if your camera isn’t being used. If you aren’t experimenting with different scenarios or subjects, how will you get better? Attend workshops, meet with other professionals, be a sponge.
Upcoming online workshop:
- I have to plug because I’m getting super excited watching sign-ups. Please join me for my fourth class online starting January 25 for Creating the Image, presented by Creative Groove. It’s $160 for four classes every Wednesday starting at 5 PM PST with recorded playback for those who struggle with that schedule. I promise you will understand your DSLR like you wouldn’t believe. This is idea for those who just got a DSLR for a gift, and those who know their camera but need to really understand manual mode and lighting situations. Sign up now!
Diana Elizabeth’s dad told her that the best way to make more money is to work for oneself. How true that can be.