Escaping the Rat Race: A Home Working Journey

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Many people dream of escaping the rat race, and at HomeWorkingClub.com we love sharing inspirational real-life examples of people doing just that. This piece is particularly interesting as it’s from someone just a few months into this exciting journey. It should be reassuring to many that she’s already half way to her income target.

My alarm sounds loudly on my bedside table. ‘Time to make the donuts”, as they say. I mentally go over today’s to-do list, pour my coffee into a to-go cup and head out the door. All the while, there’s a pit in my stomach.

Four years into my position, I started seeing the cracks in the foundation. What was once new and exciting had become monotonous and unfulfilling. Same thing day in, day out and I was desperate for a change.

Taking Inventory

So, I began a long process of figuring out my next move. While I searched for career inspiration on job boards, I dreamed of doing something I actually enjoyed. I hated the cycle everyone eventually falls prey to. You work to live. And in doing so, you’re living to work. At least that’s how it felt when I was doing something I didn’t love.

Following My Passion

I loved reading and often came across articles and books and found myself thinking, “I could do that.” I started looking into freelance writing, and it was as if the heavens opened up.

Freelance writing

It was then I began my first foray into the realm of writing. I landed a side job helping high school students write their college entrance essays for $50 an hour. On weekends, students would come and sit with me at my dining room table and together we’d draft up ideas and outlines. While I was more on the editing side at the time, I knew I had found my calling. What’s even more, it solidified that working from home was a viable option for me.

No more waking up early to run the rat race. No more fighting early morning commuters or spending my days doing work that no longer fulfilled me. Could I really do this?

Escaping the Rat Race: Putting Wheels in Motion

Immediately, I began making plans. I calculated how much work I needed to take on to replace my salary and how much my monthly expenses were. Then, I started slashing costs. Anything on my budget that ABSOLUTELY did not need to be there was cut. Always preferring to err on the side of caution, I began a to build up a small nest egg. This would help cover any gaps between my breaking out and finally making it.

A short time after figuring out that I could do what I loved AND get paid, I had to sit down with my husband and have that talk. I explained my salary replacement calculations, nest egg, and my time frame.

I would give myself a full year to become profitable. If I hadn’t made it work by then, I’d take my writing part time and rejoin the commuting workforce once again.  To this day, I’m forever grateful to that man for always supporting my dreams.

Reality Sets In

Quitting my job was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I felt even more terrified when I was asked what I was doing next, and where. While people were supportive of my pursuing writing as a career, the concept I was home working from my living room was foreign to my co-workers.

I gave my notice around Thanksgiving and my last day was right before Christmas. From the inception of my work-from-home-aspiration to my very last day of work was a mere six months.

The first week after my last paycheck came in I was a nervous wreck. The college essay gig had dried up (it is a seasonal thing, after all) and I was having a hard time landing new jobs with my limited experience.

Paycheck

“You’ve Got To Spend Money To Make Money”

Up until then, I had been working off a free WordPress site. It didn’t take long before I knew I needed to upgrade.  Almost every job I came across asked for my resume and my website. What I lacked in experience, I also lacked in online presence. So, I bit the bullet and paid for a domain. The idea of spending money with none coming in was paralysing, but necessary for my business to succeed.

At the time, I had zero experience in website design, but some long hours later, I had built my very own site. It was a huge boost to my confidence that I was now able to present myself to clients professionally.

Creating A Workspace

It can be hard to differentiate between “work time” and “me time” when both take place in your living room. To alleviate this issue, I set up a home office.  This designated workspace allows me to set boundaries, which is essential to any “remote” worker. I moved a desk into my living room, set up my printer and stocked up on calendars and post-its. Home office complete!

While my workspace isn’t anything fancy, it got the job done. Even better, my morning commute had officially been downsized to a mere fifteen steps.

Leila Work Desk

“My First Month Was Rough”

January was my first month working at home full time. I found myself taking non-paying jobs to establish myself. I offered to guest post on fellow writers’ blogs and took “links back to my site” in lieu of payments for pieces. I was getting discouraged. I knew deep down I wasn’t going to be a “breakout star, ” but I had expected to land a paying gig a little sooner.

Making Progress

February brought some positive momentum. I managed to land my first paying job early into the month, and for that, I was ecstatic! A few weeks earlier I had done a small piece as part of a round-up series (unpaid), and their blog had just been opened to submissions. I wrote up a pitch, and they took me on for a piece that would earn me a cool $75.

However, the euphoria was short-lived. One paid job did not make up for my missing bi-weekly paycheck. I knew I needed to hustle harder and find something recurring. The one-off article here and there was perfect for my portfolio but wasn’t enough to keep me going on the timeline I had planned.

With the confidence boost of a paid article awaiting publication, I landed another job that would require ghostwriting three to four posts a week at $50 for a total of $150-200 a week. As a ghostwriter, I wouldn’t be getting a byline, but the upward momentum was validating nonetheless.

With $150-200 a week in revenue on the books, I had to keep moving. In addition to pitching one-off articles that would give me a byline, I looked for more regular work. One of the first things they should tell you when you’re starting out freelancing is that “steady work” can be like a mirage in the desert. I may be exaggerating, but recurring work can be hard to find. Many steady gigs I came across were very low paying.

Low Hanging Fruit is Fruit, Nonetheless

At the start of my third month working from home, the fear of not making enough money drove me to take on one of those low paying jobs. I would be writing copy for a travel company for $6-$8 per piece. Low hanging fruit

Although it’s low paying, the work isn’t too time-consuming and easy enough to score bonuses for well-written pieces or amount of content produced. So far, I’ve been averaging $40-$50 a week. I know I could easily bump that number up if I wanted to write more, but I choose to devote my extra time to finding higher paying jobs and maintaining my website.

Getting To My Goal

Between the two regular ghostwriting jobs and the occasional one off, I’m about halfway to my goal weekly income. It may not seem like much, but for my first three months working from home, I’d say it’s a pretty decent start. I’ve now begun to turn down jobs that are too low paying so I can dedicate myself to contracts with a higher payoff.

Freedom Working From Home

With the revolving door of my 9-5 days behind me, I now enjoy spending my time working on projects I choose. I genuinely appreciate that each day holds something new.

Making this career move to work from home has been one of the greatest moves of my life. I love having dominion over my days and the freedom of making my own schedule.

While I fully enjoy the many perks of working from home, I still get stressed over making “enough” money from time to time. However, it pales in comparison to the pressures I had at my old job. Being my own boss also means I get what I put in. The harder I work at my craft, the more lucrative it can be.

In hindsight, I would have liked to firm up more regular business before giving my resignation. However, I’ve learned so much in the past few months, I can’t honestly say I ponder on “should haves” or “could haves” very much anymore.

I’m all about looking ahead, from the comfort of home of course.

We were very inspired by Leila’s tale of escaping the rat race, and reading about how much progress she’s made in just three months. If you have a similar story to share, let us know in the comments.


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About Author

Leila Mooney

Leila is a freelance writer, wife and millennial (love or hate the term, that’s what she is!) from New York. She enjoys writing about a variety of lifestyle topics and when she’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a book.

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