Life After Corporate
By Karin Eldor
Oh what a year. So was ‘16 a sweet one? Well it was a year of evolution, learnings, and a heck of a roller coaster ride. (And not just for me!)
Let me rewind. A year ago, I decided to take a risk and leave my steady marketing job at a fashion retailer, and pursue my side hustle of freelance writing . As much as I loved my job and my team, I felt it was time for a change. It is the freelance era, after all, and I started to wonder if all these people going out on their own to pursue their passion were on to something.
Turns out, they were.
Statistic alert: According to a 2016 article in the National Post about the gig economy, “There are 53 million freelancers in the U.S. today and 50 per cent of the U.S. workforce will be freelance by 2020. While comparable stats aren’t readily available in Canada, John Ruffolo, Chief Executive Officer of OMERS Ventures, predicts the percentage could be even higher here.”
Today I am proud to report that I am a regular contributor to several established online publications, some of them world-renowned and at the top of their game. In addition to my writing gig here on Monster, I also cover retail trends and social media for Shopify and am Chief Content Writer for a New York-based agency, 818.
So overall, it’s been a good year—and dare I say, I am #blessed.
But it’s also been a year of sleep deprivation, hustling, and overcoming distractions. Would I do it all again? YES.
Here are the pros and cons of freelance life, as told by yours truly.
Pro: I am my own boss.
The best feeling in the world? I get to approach who I want to work with, when. No more Sunday night blues, no more feeling anxious and stressed about an “urgent” Saturday morning email to tend to ASAP or what the topic of a Monday morning emergency meeting is about. No damage control or crisis
management, office politics or red tape.
If I work through the night burning the midnight oil, it’s MY CHOICE. If I’m waking up at 5am on a Sunday morning to work on an article, it’s because I’m spilling my heart and soul into it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I can create my own agenda and schedule, and I am in control of my day-to-day. Sounds like the perfect setup, right?
Con: I am my own boss.
Well, being my own boss is also to my detriment.
That same feeling of being my own boss and not being on a company’s permanent payroll can also cause anxiety. While one month can be amazing, the next month might not be as stellar. And when I’m emailing editors about pitches for future articles, it’s a nail-biting waiting game, until I hear back and get the greenlight to work on those stories. Imagine applying for a job every week, and having to wait to hear back from the recruiting team—over and over? It’s not for the faint of heart!
To be honest, the unpredictability does excite me as I love setting new goals for myself, but it can get
Pro: I work from home… or anywhere I want to, really.
All it takes are two consecutive snowy days in December to make me feel super grateful that I don’t need to join the horde of commuters, rushing to work. I can stay home with my favorite coffee in hand, in cozy sweats if I choose (I never work in PJs, I feel it’s not good practice for my productivity), and manage all my business and work calls online (Google Hangouts, for the win.)
Con: There’s a stigma tied to working from home.
People assume that because I work from home and am self-employed, I’m working while binge-watching Netflix. Yes I can go to the gym whenever I want, and if I choose to sit on a cafe terrace on a gorgeous summer day while typing away on my laptop, that’s amazing. But there’s an unfair perception about working from home that has become somewhat stigmatized—would I be taken more seriously or would the perceptions not exist if I trekked to an office every day.
Pro: I feel fulfilled and love what I do.
When I get positive feedback from editors and strangers, or an acquaintance stops me in the street and tells me that something I wrote made a huge impact for them, it means the world to me. It makes all the late nights worth it, as well as the constant hustling. Getting comments and questions from readers is the highlight of everything I do!
Con: Balance is extremely hard to achieve.
This same attachment to my work makes it very challenging to achieve balance. When I’m not plugging away at my laptop into the wee hours of the night, I’m awake thinking about an email I wrote or a
reply I’m still waiting for. There are also countless distractions hurled my way on the daily, and it’s tough to say “no” to them. Between mid-day text messages and calls, coffee date invitations from prospective clients, my unhealthy obsession with checking my inbox, and the day-to-day realities of life, making it through a super productive day can take a lot of discipline.
6 Key Learnings:
1) Entrepreneurship is a challenge and it’s not for everyone:
Being your own boss is a tumultuous ride filled with ups and downs. It’s important to keep evolving, stay agile, test out different ways of working, and always learn from your wins and failures.
2) It can get lonely
Working as a freelancer can get lonely for those of you who thrive on collaboration, team brainstorming, and seeing a group of people every day. I do have brainstorm sessions with some of my teams, but I miss holiday parties. (The #FOMO can be real when scrolling my Instagram feed in December!) If you crave daily human contact as a freelancer, then perhaps a coworking space is for you.
3) Get a mentor (or two)
I worked with two mentors this year (one is a life coach, one a business coach; both have become my friends) to help me manage expectations of clients and guide me in narrowing down my purpose and mission. These mentors, as well as some new friendships I’ve formed this year with fellow
entrepreneurs, have served as accountability partners, which helps keep my goals on track.
4) Setting boundaries is critical
This is where saying “no” comes in. If you are working as a freelancer, you need to set boundaries from the get-go. Set your scope of work and your terms in your proposal.
5) Focus and balance are key
As I embark on Year 2 of working for myself, I’m excited to embrace my new focus. This will help me turn down the projects that don’t fit my brand and target the ones that will help me go further.
6) Take a break!
Establishing a routine that includes unplugging and even a digital detox every now and then is a
challenge but it’s a critical way to ensure success. Remind yourself that self-care is important to not
Luckily, I’ve learned a lot this past year and am looking forward to applying these takeaways to grow even more in 2017. Hope these inspire you as well, whether you work in the corporate world, work remotely, or are trying to make it as a freelancer too.
But if you feel that this lifestyle is not for you, there is always Monster.ca which can help you #findbetter!