For as long as I can remember, my dream job was working for myself…or so I thought.
When I was nine years old, I created my first “business” called J&F foundation, short for Jimmika (my real name) & Friends foundation. I had no idea what this business was, but I knew it was mine, and I called the shots. I had a file cabinet in my dad’s home office with all my “important work documents.” You could catch me behind my computer typing stuff because that’s what boss bitches did. In my dream world, I did cool things and brought my friends along with me. In conclusion, we made money because of some genius idea I conceived. It’s no wonder that 16 years later, working for myself would become my reality—a dream come true yet a harsh reality at the same time.
When I first started blogging and writing, I didn’t even know that it was a legit occupation that people got paid to do.
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Day 1 NYFW: I didn’t get the best picture of my jumpsuit but I served face, breathed the same air as a ton of black living legends and I sat at the Harlem Fashion Row Awards dinner with Ciara (literally across the table). Not to mention the short rib was bomb and sis loves when din-din is on someone else’s dime. Sometimes life is way more lit off the gram. 📸: @machineguntatyy__ . . . . . #harlemfashionrow #nyfw #nyfw2019 #nyfwstreetstyle #hfr #essencemagazine #dapperdan #gucci #ciara #blackfashion #blackfashionblogger #bloggerstyle #nycwriters #blackgirlslay #blackgirlkillingit #blackgirlsarelit #blackstyle #blackstyleblogger
In my defense, blogging is still a relatively new occupation and continuously transforming. At the time, I was clout chasing and lusting after internet fame to be completely honest with you. Since the end of 2018, I’ve made a pretty consistent income blogging and freelance writing; however, it’s nothing like I expected—like at all.
From my experience, those internet freelance guru’s who guilt you into quitting your 9-5 to freelance making $10,000 a month lied like hell.
So many people make working for yourself seem like the most carefree thing in the world. According to “those people,” you wake up whenever you want. You have time and money for consistent midday lunch dates because “you work on your own schedule.” The cash flows to you, and you have the most stress-free work-life balance. BULLSHIT
Working for myself was the most stressful job I’ve ever had in my life. Even more stressful than working long hours in retail with very little pay.
Working for yourself is hard—hard af—and takes more time, energy, and resources than one could imagine. When you clock in and out of a job, everything you need is pretty much put in place for you—you show up, do your assigned tasks, and go tf home. Working for yourself is the complete opposite. Nothing is laid out for you—there’s no time clock to punch. You are every department for your business (accounting, marketing, PR, maintenance, HR, etc.). If that isn’t stress, then I don’t know what is.
In October 2019, I went back to work as a full-time copywriter, and my mental health has been jumping for joy ever since.
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Ultimately I ended up not being about that freelance life. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that taking the time to freelance made me a better person professionally. As someone who doesn’t have a background in journalism, freelancing gave me the tools and connections that I needed to find a full-time writing gig.
The ups and downs of freelancing exposed me to my weaknesses, such as my chronic procrastination and self-doubt. I say all of that to say that freelancing isn’t for everyone in the long term, but working for yourself can be beneficial so long as you don’t look at it as a get rich quick scheme.
In my first year of working for myself, I learned these life-changing lessons about working for yourself, and you should take notes if you’re considering making the transition.
1. You still need to have a routine.
Routines are in place for a reason. Forming one will help you be more productive and minimize time wasted trying to figure it out. Make a tentative routine for yourself that includes tasks that have to be done every day—making breakfast, hitting the gym, responding to/sending emails, sending pitches, taking breaks, etc.—not just completing assignments. When you have a routine, you’ll stay focused af. When you feed into the “I wake up when I want” narrative, you’ll stay broke.
2. Your lousy work habits will surface and hit you like a ton of bricks.
All my life, I’ve been a procrastinator. When I transitioned from working full-time to freelancing, I realized just how bad of a procrastinator I genuinely am. Unlike a traditional job, you don’t have someone tracking your performance. You have to be honest with yourself. Tackle your lousy work habits head-on before they end up being your demise.
3. There will be times when you’re doing the work but not seeing the results.
When you’re working for yourself, you don’t get paid because you showed up. Especially in the beginning, you’ll put in a lot of work without a deposit in sight. Whether it’s spending hours redoing your blog or researching formulas for a product you want to develop, you won’t reap the benefits of some of your hard work until much later in the game, and that’s perfectly fine.
As a quick testimony, when I was half-ass blogging/freelancing, I dreamed of one day being on PR lists and connecting with brands and people I love.
In 2019 alone, I’ve connected with pretty much every brand that I swear by, made it to NYFW, and many other events with press/media credentials. This was possible because of the work that I put in earlier when I didn’t see a return. When you put in the work, it’s going to yield results.
4. It can be mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.
There are going to be plenty of days where you’re thinking about giving up, or you’re “getting ahead of yourself.” Stay out of your head and get in your bag. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you count yourself out before you get started.
Also, don’t pay attention to the people on social media that make working for yourself seem like all fancy events and designer clothes. Clout chasing is at an all-time high, and you need not feed into it even for a second. Trust me, I know people who are living a life of luxury online, but behind closed doors, they’re one missed sugar daddy date from eviction.
5. People will look at you differently when you say you “work for yourself.”
When I shared this with people, some thought I sat at home and had a ton of money coming in from thin air. Others thought it was code for “I’m too lazy to have a real job.” Some even assumed I thought I was “better” than others because I didn’t depend on a 9-5 for my income. All of this is false, of course. Don’t let people’s misconceptions and expectations determine how you live your life as an entrepreneur.
6. Working for yourself sometimes involves picking up odd jobs and part-time work
Let’s be real; you’re not going to quit your job on Monday, then wake up Tuesday with consistent income from a hobby you turned into a business. Yes, working full-time while starting a business isn’t feasible for everyone. However, bills have to be paid, and dreams need funding. Finding odd jobs and part-time work is a great way to have consistent income while building a business, freelancing, etc. I’ve done everything from part-time teaching to seasonal retail work to make ends meet while “working for myself.” Learning how to freelance is knowing how to make sacrifices and compromises.
7. You’ll be forever learning something new about your designated field.
Every day, I learn something new about blogging/writing. Don’t expect to have all of the answers in the beginning — embrace trial and error. Your journey as an entrepreneur is forever evolving. Learn from every lesson and let it make you better in the long run. You’ll never know how to freelance or work for yourself without accepting this.
I hope these lessons help you on your journey 🙂
Here are some more posts you may enjoy:
Facing Reality: How I Knew It Was Time To Quit My Job (click title to read)
Things To Do Before You Quit Your Job (click title to read)