For the first time in my life I have a steady job with guaranteed hours. (guaranteed being used loosely here) Even so, I would go home at the end of the day and ask myself, 'what have I actually accomplished today?' The answer: nothing really. Not that having a job or career (regardless of how stable) means you have no purpose or drive, but in my particular case, I had neither. During the week, I would put in my hours of working, go home, have the weekend off, and start the whole process over again. I wanted more. I wanted a sense of purpose and fulfillment after the end of the day.
The worst part of having a comfortable job is the fear of being suddenly uncomfortable by change. So I decided to do what I was afraid of: Change.
I have always loved art and drawing. I remember taping my drawings on my friends window and pretending to sell them to rich art collectors when I was only 6 or 7 years old. For me, becoming an artist was my dream. Now career choices are exciting as a child, (heck, we're excited FOR the child! They have so much potential!) because 'growing up' is so far away. But when you wake up one day at the age of 24 and ask, 'what just happened?', careers are suddenly very daunting.
The thought of leaving my comfortable job and hopping into the fires of uncertainty scared me. (quite literally. I would shake and feel nauseous at the thought.) But the more I thought about it, it wasn't the thought of change that scared me, it was the thought of failure. So that was it then; I was afraid to fail. However, the desire to finally achieve that dream, to go home at the end of the day, satisfied with my accomplishments, far outweighed my fears.
So I took a chance.
After 3 years of holding back, I finally built up the courage to throw myself out there, open and exposed to the scavenger birds of criticism. And do you know what? The opposite happened. Within two months I got two jobs. Alright, it was a success! So I worked at my comfortable job in the morning and worked on my art in the evening. Clearly this would cause the sense of accomplishment I so desperately desired... but it didn't. Instead I was left exhausted and overwhelmed. I took a leap off the cliff but refused to let go of the edge. I was relying on the stability of my comfortable job while living the mock-life of an artist, And although I wish I could be more free-spirited, throw caution to the wind, and just 'roll with it', I still have bills to pay. After all, I was looking for a career, not a hobby.
I decided if I really wanted to be a full time artist, that goal was left entirely up to me. There was no restrictive payroll, no dictative corporate office, just me. So I posted an ad on every group, page, and applicable website. That next morning I received three jobs offers. Incredible!
Now came the really hard part. How would I charge for such jobs? Fortunately I have a little experience. (all of them being hard life lessons) It gave me an idea of how much to ask for. But if I were to turn this into a career, I would need to charge enough money. Another fear kicked in. What if I ask for too much and send all my job offers running? What if I don't charge enough and I fall behind in my bills? Swallowing my fears (and insecurities at my lack of experience) I took the business approach and firmly, but politely, informed them of my rates. To my surprise, all three of them said my rates were very reasonable and they love my work.
Score! Two fears knocked out in one blow. Fear of change and fear of rejection. Now came the big one. Fear of FAILURE. I sat down and calculated how much time I was spending with my comfortable job and how much I was going to spend on my new art jobs. After seeing how much time I would be spending a month working, I knew I had to make another choice. I had to pick one job. Would I give up on becoming a full time artist and stick with my stable job, or would I live the life of a freelancer?
Well, that is what this blog is all about! I am still working my comfortable job, still working on my two illustrating jobs, and currently waiting on the contracts for the potential three jobs I have coming in. It's my goal to quit my job by the end of the month and officially live the life as a freelancer. (If I can't this month, then next month, I am not backing down!) As I go, I will be writing about my experiences, what I have picked up along the way, and what I have learned NOT to do.
I invite everyone to follow me through this crazy dream of mine and maybe, one day, you'll find the courage to take that leap towards your dream as well.
How to get exposure:
Exposure is EXTREMELY important for a freelancer. After all, you won't find work if no one has heard of you. If you haven't done so, I recommend,
- Setting up your own website with a portfolio of your best works. If you aren't html savvy, I recommend something like Weebly. It's free until you buy a domain name, and they use templates, much like Blogger does.
- Hitting up the social networking sites. Get a Facebook Page (not your personal page, an actual business page where people can 'like' it) and set up a Twitter account. (I am guilty for not using mine)
- Get into professional networking such as LinkedIn. It's not enough to make an account, you need to join groups. The groups in LinkedIn are not just social cliques, they are people who are willing to help you. I have gone to my groups multiple times, and received advice and help from amateurs and professionals alike. Besides, it feels good to help someone out in return.
- Also, get business cards! I bring my sketchbook everywhere I go. (even to Wendy's and Dunkin Donuts before I start my workshift) I give business cards out to anyone who watches me as I draw. So now, everyone at work and some businesses know me as, 'The Artist'.