One year ago, I did the unthinkable.

I left a job I absolutely loved to take a leap into the unknown. One year ago, I began my journey as a full-time freelance writer.

May 24, 2019 was my last day as an English teacher at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. So, today marks my one-year anniversary as a full-time writerpreneur.

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Find your “Hell, yes!”

After I announced that I had resigned from my teaching position, my inbox was flooded with paid writing opportunities. And this was a great problem to have. But because I was so worried about being able to pay my bills I said “Yes” to EVERYTHING. I said yes to things I had absolutely no interest in doing. I said yes to assignments that required a whole lot of work and paid very little money.

Marie Forleo and lots of other female entrepreneurs I admire often talk about the importance of making room for the “Hell yes!”

Don’t say yes to something unless it’s a hell yes. Otherwise, you’re going to fill your plate with things you don’t really want to do. And that will leave no room for the things you’ve been dreaming of doing for years. 

So, I set some freelance writing goals and used those to help choose my assignments.

Make room for your “Hell, yes!”

Collaboration Over Competition

Freelance writers must stick together. A lot of those opportunities that came my way were from other freelance writers. These are freelance writers who choose collaboration over competition.

In that same spirit, I recently started a new feature in the See Jane Write Network Facebook – #ShootYourShotSaturday. Each Saturday, I’ll be sharing freelance writing opportunities to pursue and literary contests to consider.

Over on Instagram, I started connecting with other freelancers across the country and around the world. I did so by searching the #freelancewriter hashtag. This helped me grow my IG following, too. Because of those connections, I was interviewed by fellow freelancer Amanda Cross on her podcast The Ambitious Freelancer. I was also featured on the blog Remi Reports by freelancer Maxine Harrison.

Faith Over Fear

Of course, my biggest fear in taking the leap to be a full-time writerpreneur was money. I don’t like to say I grew up poor. We always had food to eat and a roof over our heads. But that roof had leaks, that food was often from a can, and I’m no stranger to disconnected utilities or eviction notices.

So, once I became a financially secure adult, I had no desire of ever going back. That’s one reason it took me so long to quit my job in the first place.

My husband and I determined how much money I needed to bring in every month for us to pay the bills and maintain our lifestyle.

I’m proud to say that I’ve met that goal every single month. Many months I’ve exceeded the goal.

I remember when I first started thinking about the concept of the “Hell, yes!” a part of me struggled with this notion. It seemed like advice that came from a place of privilege. But I realized that the other option, that option where I say yes to everything, is rooted in fear. If I have faith in myself and my God that together we can actually pull off this full-time writerpreneur thing, I need to act accordingly.

In January, during my church’s 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting I came across a verse from the book of Nahum (a book I’m not sure I even knew existed before then) that declares “trouble will not come a second time.”

It felt like God was speaking directly to me letting me know that I would not have to face the money troubles of my childhood ever again.

And I certainly needed to hold on to this when I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 24 and when the world was sent into an economic downturn a few months later because of the COVID-19 crisis.

But in spite of all of this I’m still hitting and even exceeding my financial goals each month. In fact, lately, I’ve been working less and earning more. I finally figured out how to work smarter, not harder.

Don’t put all of your eggs in the same freelancing basket.

Once the Coronavirus crisis hit, some of the publications I was writing for cut their freelancer budgets. Some even folded. If I had been relying solely on my income from any of those publications I would have been screwed. But because I write for several publications and have my own business I’m not only surviving right now, I’m thriving.

The riches are in the niches.

Many of the freelance opportunities I’ve had over the years have landed in my lap because of See Jane Write, because I have made my passion for writing and for empowering women well known through my blog and through social media.

So, when a local business for women needs a writer to help with blog posts and newsletters, I’m front of mind. When a non-profit for women needs help writing content, I’m who they call. When Alabama Media Group wanted to launch a project with its Reckon Women platform to help elevate women’s voices, they turned to me to curate its Your Voices column.

Riches are in the niches. And you need to build your brand, babe. Figure out who are you and what you stand for and use your online presence to let the whole world know.

But I have a confession.

Despite this success I’m disappointed in myself because here’s the thing – I didn’t quit my job because I wanted to be a full-time freelance writer.

In fact, I didn’t quit my job for the sake of any of my writing goals. I quit my teaching job for the sake of your writing goals.

Let me explain.

I essentially have just two major writing goals – 1) to write and publish a book that actually makes a profit and makes an impact and 2) to see my byline in at least 10 of my favorite publications.

I could have accomplished both of those goals while teaching full-time.

But my biggest goal is to build See Jane Write into a business that can completely sustain me financially and that helps all of its members accomplish their biggest writing goals.

And that’s why I quit my job.

But as soon as I packed up my classroom I freaked out about money and started freelancing like crazy. And don’t get me wrong. I love being a freelance writer. But I left my teaching job for See Jane Write and I need to act like it. So as I enter this second year of self-employment, See Jane Write will be my priority.

Enrollment for the See Jane Write Collective reopens June 22. You can learn more here. If you decide that the Collective is right for you, fill out the form at the bottom of that page. Then, you’ll be notified first when the doors of the Collective are open.

Let’s accomplish our greatest goals together!