I remember it like it was yesterday. Walking out of the office, for the last time with all my stuff. I wasn’t coming back.

A year ago, I jumped ship at my old job to give this freelance thing a try. It was a scary, bold move, but it felt absolutely right.

A year later, I am so happy I quit. I have had no regrets at all. No moments of wanting to go back. That’s not to say it has all been easy. Far from it.

What I’ve realized about being your own boss, is that it takes an incredible amount of effort to build something. But it’s worth it, because eventually you’ll see the fruits of your labor. I love that I’ve been able to think of new ideas and implement them through events and articles. I enjoy that I get to try new things and every day is something new. I am so grateful that I’m in a place where work is coming to me, rather than me being on the pitch merry-go-round.

I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. I haven’t failed. I didn’t give up (even when I wanted to). All of my worst fears didn’t come true.

The unknown path ahead was something that contained opportunities I never saw coming.

Most of all, I’m glad I had the faith in myself to jump and actually quit. I remember speaking to my mom when I made my decision. She was nervous for me, but knew that I had made my choice. She has seen how I have blossomed and is my number one supporter. I love her for that.

I hardly ever use the word faith in my personal life, but I can’t think of a better word for what I felt when I quit. I believed it would work out before I could see it. I knew there was something bigger β€” and I was ready to search for it.

I didn’t have every step figured out. I didn’t have a year’s worth of expenses saved up. I didn’t have my debt all paid off.

There were so many things telling me “no,” but I still said “yes.”

Sometimes faith is about doing something that you know people don’t agree with and doing it anyway.

Faith is also about leaving your comfort zone and knowing that it will work out. What most people don’t know about my journey into freelancing is that when I quit, I had lined up a 20-hour per week remote writing gig. Because of this gig, I felt comfortable quitting and knew I would at least make what I did at my old job.

Quickly I realized the work was mind-numbingly boring. It was taxing, repetitive work and I was getting paid pennies per word. I was a content machine and felt depleted every day.

After a month and a half, I knew I couldn’t do the gig anymore. But it was my safeguard. It was the reason I felt comfortable quitting. How would I bridge the gap and make up for a loss of 20 hours of work per week?

I was scared and didn’t have all the answers, but knew I was unhappy. I didn’t leave my old job to be unhappy and creatively unfulfilled. So, I left and I hustled.

Luckily, it was right near the start of FinCon and after that I was booked up again. I got better paying work. More creatively fulfilling work. I made some great connections with companies that I’m partnered with today.

Something I said on Michelle’s podcast the other day rings so true. You have to let go of bad clients, bad relationships, and unfulfilling work. How can you ever let the right things come to you, when you are devoting all your time and energy to the wrong things?

You need to carve out a space to be open to new, better things. You will stand alone for a while and wonder for a second if you made the right decision. You may even be tempted to crawl back to your old clients, begging for some work.

But it’s better β€” every single time β€” to focus on better opportunities.

My freelance journey has been a roller coaster, sprinkled with a lot of surprises and successes, as well as a good dose of anxiety and a huge learning curve.

There’s one thing I know, though, I haven’t done this alone. So, thank you. I am so grateful for you (yes, you).


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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33 responses to “One Year Later: My Journey as a Freelancer”

  1. May says:

    Congrats on one year-bravo.Wow how time flies. I am slightly jealous or your lifestyle but understand it is not all rainbows and unicorns. Glad to see you are feeling fulfilled and have been successful – I know it is hard work and probably scary at times.
    May recently posted…99 First World ProblemsMy Profile

  2. Kirsten says:

    It’s like you write this for me! August 7th, I leave my job. I don’t have a fraction of the work I need lined up and I’m OK with that for now. I’m looking forward to the challenge and to proving myself. I’ve steered clear of content mills and want to do work I love. It’s scary, but it’s even scarier to continue working 50+ hours a week at a job that more than pays the bills, but wrecks my life balance.
    Kirsten recently posted…7 Staycation Ideas for Summer BreakMy Profile

  3. Congrats, Melanie!
    Kara @ The Daily Whisk recently posted…Frugal Win, Lose, or Draw – Vacation EditionMy Profile

  4. Congrats! Thanks for sharing your story! It takes a lot of courage to take that leap. I’m glad that it has worked out. Here’s to many more years!
    Luke Fitzgerald @ FinanciallyFitz recently posted…Why Is Money so Hard to Talk About?My Profile

  5. Melanie, you really do inspire me. πŸ™‚
    Robin @ The Thrifty Peach recently posted…Love Letter to ChattanoogaMy Profile

  6. Letting go of bad clients is so scary. Currently one of my most challenging ones is my bread and butter. So proud of you for taking the leap and trusting your gut. Congratulations on one year!! Freelanciversary? πŸ™‚
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…BATB TV: TimeCast CableMy Profile

  7. Love this Melanie! Congrats on taking the leap and sharing these fears and successes with us. πŸ™‚
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays Ninety Ninth EditionMy Profile

  8. Kathleen says:

    This is awesome, Melanie. I love it.
    Kathleen recently posted…Should You Ask Guests to Chip in on the Cost of Your Wedding?My Profile

  9. Wow, has it already been a year?? Congrats for following your gut, and having it work out so well for you.
    I often forget that our backgrounds are very similar (hello, theatre degrees!), which is super inspiring to me as I hope to make the leap into freelancing too! (Hopefully sooner rather than later…)
    Amanda @ My Life, I Guess recently posted…How Working for Minimum Wage Affected My Mental HealthMy Profile

  10. Martine says:

    Congrats on hitting the one year mark! Definitely a reason to celebrate. I look forward to what I will write when I hit my one-year mark too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Congratulations! It’s been so awesome to watch you grow and become so successful. I had no doubt you could do it after all the hustling you had already been doing. What you said about challenging clients really resonated with me, though. Freelancing is not a walk in the park, and it’s crazy how much you learn about yourself along the way.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Being Grateful: Seventy-Third EditionMy Profile

  12. Chonce says:

    Congrats on one year Melanie! And thanks so much for telling your story. I agree that it’s s hard to stick with work that does nothing for you and that you’re not passionate about.

  13. Michelle says:

    I am so proud of you!! You are an inspiration and I wish you continued success and happiness! See you in September πŸ™‚
    Michelle recently posted…The Things You Want In Life Will Happen At Their Own PaceMy Profile

  14. I can’t believe it’s been a year since you went out on your own!! It feels like yesterday that you made your big, crazy. scary announcement. I am so proud of how far you have come in this past year and I can’t wait to see what you do over this next year! Congrats my friend!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Out of TouchMy Profile

  15. Happy one year and YES to carving out the space for new and better things. That space gets filled in with bigger and better when you create the freedom for it to happen. Keep it goin rockstar!
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Leveraging The Latte FactorMy Profile

  16. Congrats on your 1 year Melanie! I agree that sometimes faith is about doing something that you know people don’t agree with and doing it anyway and I can totally relate it.
    Kate @ Money Propeller recently posted…Life and Financial To-DosMy Profile

  17. Pira says:

    Hi Melanie,

    Just came across your blog and feel super inspired by this post. Congrats on your success as a freelancer. I’m scared to make this shift myself, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It takes a lot of confidence and clearly you’ve got that. Keep it up!
    Pira recently posted…How to Price Match Like a ProMy Profile

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