In one word: terrifying.
Actually, now that I’ve made the decision, now that there’s no going back, I feel excited. Since Monday, my first day of working independently, I’ve felt totally pumped! But a few weeks ago, while I was still deciding whether to make this move, I felt mostly terrified.
I did not feel this kind of terrified the last time I quit my job. When I left the Houston Chronicle in 2008 to backpack solo through Africa, I was terrifed about arriving in a dangerous city in Cameroon by myself after dark, terrified about getting sick and having no one to help me, and terrified about my long-term plan, what I’d do after backpacking for six months.
But I was not terrified about how I’d earn money. Back then, I’d saved plenty for my trip, even enough to hold me over after I returned home. Whatever I earned through freelancing in Africa was icing on the cake.
This time around, I’m depending on myself for consistent income. Enough income, I might add, to live in my city of choice, the expensive Washington, D.C.
I know where about two-thirds of that income will come from. I already make a good amount through my social-media consulting business, Socialexis (I explain how in my social-media biz guide), and I’ve added a few more clients to that roster. The challenge is filling the rest of that income gap, figuring out where the other third will come from.
I know how I’d like to fill it. I want to continue to freelance as a journalist. I want to help organizations and small businesses with blog strategy. I want to write another e-guide — and help individuals or organizations that have ideas but not the writing prowess create their own e-books, too. I want to launch an online class to help authors create successful blogs. I want to teach an in-person class at a university on journalism or writing. I want to get more involved in entrepreneurial journalism. (If you want to work with me in any of those capacities, by all means, contact me!)
What I’m saying is, I’m not at a loss for ideas on how to make money. Now I have to choose two or three of these objectives and make them happen. Which is, quite frankly, scarier than going to the office every day and knowing I’ll collect a paycheck every two weeks.
Of course, the terrifying part of this plan is also what makes it awesome. If I’d filled my cup to the brim, maxed out my capacity, accounted for every little piece of my income pie, I wouldn’t be available when an opportunity pops up.
Which is why while part of me is terrified, the other part is celebrating. Celebrating freedom! Freedom for my days, my time, my location. But most importantly, freedom for my ideas. Because when your ideas have the space to run, that’s when you really grow.