I was watching CNN this past Sunday; the “Your Money” program hosted by Ali Velshi. It had an interesting segment entitled something like, “Is It Smart or Dumb to Follow Your Dreams in This Economy.”
The segment highlighted this regular guy who’d lost his business (he sold granite countertops) when the housing market tanked. One day, to relieve stress, he popped in an opera CD and started singing to it.
As it turns out, he has an amazing voice and goes on to get a full scholarship to study at one of the top opera schools in the country. So he moves his family from Colorado to Indiana – and they go on food stamps — so that he can study opera full-time.
People Losing Their Jobs, Finding Their Passion & Doing Something They Love: A CNN Feature
As the segment progressed, it brought up a few issues I think many who want to quit jobs they hate to follow their passion encounter.
Following My Freelance Writing and Self-Publishing Dreams: 50 Ebooks on Amazon by Year’s End
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of my 2011 freelance writing New Year’s resolutions is to get 50 ebooks published on Amazon by the end of this year. Some have told me I’m downright crazy; others are a bit nicer, wondering how I’m going about it.
I talk about it in the ebook I just published this past weekend entitled, How to Become a FT Self Publisher: Make the Transition from Writing for Clients (or a FT Job) to Writing for Yourself. Following is an excerpt:
Around the fall of 2009 . . . I started thinking about how I could make the transition from doing so much of the writing [for clients] and transitioning into a strictly managerial role at New Media Words [my SEO writing company], as of January 2011.
FYI, this still hasn’t happened yet, but I made great strides last year.
Some Strides I Made by Planning Ahead
I hired a couple of steady writers;
I paid off some bills so I could start turning down work if I wanted to;
I started saving more;
I got more serious about my ebook pricing model; and
I published my first title on Amazon (which had been a goal for at least two years).
The main thing is, I set a target date.
Why It’s Important to Set a Target Date
It’s amazing how fast time can get away from you . . . and before you know it, you’re stuck in “one day I’m gonna get to this” mode.
When you set a target date, you can look at your calendar and see how many finite months, weeks, days and hours you’re working with.
And this is what accomplishing any goal boils down to: setting a date, making a plan for how to get there, then actively working the plan.
Why Paying Down Debt Is Crucial to Achieving Your Self-Publishing Dreams
One thing I do advise doing though is paying down as much debt as you possibly can. Lowering your monthly expenses will allow you to focus more on your writing.
And, even if you have to wind up taking a job or taking on more client projects, at least you can do so at a lower rate/salary. Remember, the goal is to move towards self publishing, not make the most money or stay stuck in a job/work with a client that you don’t like.
So, if you want to lower your SEO writing rate to $35/article from $50 so you can easily land more clients to pay bills, you can do that – if your monthly overhead is low enough.
See what I mean?
How to Easily Make Life-Changing Decisions: Rules to Live By
Do you know the “Dumb Little Man”?
I read an excellent post on DumbLittleMan.com (an excellent “lifestyle” site by the way) entitled, How to Simplify a Complicated Decision, that can help you quickly and easily make grave life decisions. The author gave 10 tips that are so simple, it’s one of those, “I need to print this out and put it in my ‘forever advice’ book” posts. My favorite tip is the very first one. The author writes:
Be Debt Free: Money will play into most of the choices you make. If you don’t have debt, you can put less emphasis on the financial element of your decision.
In the course of my career as an entrepreneur, I have to second this with all of my heart. In my experience being in debt is one of the biggest freelance writing dream snatchers of all time. And trust me, I’ve been there! It ain’t fun and it keeps you stuck.
That’s why when I knew I wanted to turn my attention to being a full-time self publisher, getting out of as much debt as I could was one of the first steps I took.
And, as CNN’s Alina Cho highlights in this story of “The Accidental Tenor,” one of the things he said that spurred him on was that he had no debt (he filed personal bankruptcy because as he put it, he’d already lost everything . . . job, cars, etc.).
Advice on How to Follow Your Freelance Writing and/or Self-Publishing Dreams in This Economy
Besides being debt free, following are two other things you can do to follow your passion – even in a shaky economy.
Set a Target Date: As discussed above, this helps you to start working towards your dream today, instead of “some day.”
Write a “Life Business Plan”: Cross all your i’s and dot your t’s, eg:
How much do you need to save;
What are you going to sacrifice (because there will be sacrifice) to get there;
What’s the worst that could happen (prepare for it);
What’s the best that could happen (prepare for that too!);
Who will your decision affect; how; for how long;
To a certain degree, you should treat your life like a business plan. Almost every successful business starts with one. And all it is . . . is a plan for success. Ever heard the saying:
If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.
The Key to Achieving Your Freelance Writing and/or Self-Publishing Dreams
Because I know that my goal is to get 50 ebooks on Amazon by year’s end, I know what I have to do every day between now and the end of the year to accomplish it. Working with this type of clarity, even when I don’t feel like it or I have client projects on tap, I know when to put in the extra hours (sacrifice) to stay on track.
My Answer to the Question, “Is It Smart or Dumb to Follow Your Dreams in This Economy?”
In my opinion, the answer is – it’s smart . . . as long as you have a defined plan on how you’re going to get there. As I wrote in the post I remember what I felt on Sundays when I worked a full-time job I was less than thrilled with:
If . . . . you’re serious about starting a freelance writing [or self-publishing] career, NOW is always the best time. Why? Because NOW is always the best time to start living the life you want — plain and simple.
What’s your answer?
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