Ever wonder what it’s like to make the transition from full-time employee to freelance consultant? Over the few weeks, follow the journey and advice of one millennial, Ijeoma Nwatu, who made that leap through the “Full-time to Freelance”. Throughout this series, you will get a first-hand account on how to leverage your talents, save money, and find clients. This post, “The First 60 Days” is the first of the series and details the start of that transition.
My last day as a full-time employee with benefits was on summer Friday, meaning I left at 1 PM instead of the typically 6 PM, if i was lucky.
I cashed my last check the following Friday afternoon and I haven’t had a regular paycheck, more or less, since. I took a picture of the paycheck on my phone for kicks, in the event, that I ever experienced a bit of longing for security, for simplicity. It’s been two months–two long months that involved moving out of my studio apartment in a “hipster-y” neighborhood, selling electronics and clothes on Ebay and secondhand stores, and convincing people to hire me as a consultant.
This is not my first time with an unforeseen future, particularly as it relates to my career choice and a stable income. the difference this go-around is that I am not looking back. I am not only embracing my entrepreneurial drive and instincts, I want to capitalize on them. at this stage in my life, the iron feels hot, the moment feels right. My experiences in nonprofit organizations, startups and agencies combined with side hustles and other projects have culminated into a full-fledge pursuit to build something of my own.
I am not a “maker”. I am not one to create a product. for as long as I can remember, I’ve have willingly and freely given professional advice, made introductions and absorbed copious amounts of information. When I decided to leave my job, first mentally and then in reality, I knew the years of research, networking and risk taking would finally be tested. My “product” has always been my knowledge, of which I now know wholeheartedly I can be properly be compensated for. and. that. feels. so. good.
There is a sense of validation and increased confidence in scheduling a meeting with a potential and then speaking with them about their next event, project or idea; all while knowing you can provide them with a service to support them on your own terms. entrepreneurship comes with its hardships and anxiety, especially as it relates to money. The freedom of choosing certain clients, determining your scheduling, sticking to your values and being an example to others around is truly priceless.
I am thankful that prior to leaving my job, I had dabbled with some freelance work in digital marketing & strategy, event planning and copywriting and copyediting. now that I am in the midst of establishing a website and designating a page for “portfolio” or “case studies”–whichever the final term will be–I am realizing that I have put in work. I worked with a restaurant owner, a fashion stylist, a nonprofit leader, a tech advocate and many others. each task(s) or project was different and each added to my skill set and repertoire that I regularly use in crafting pitches, drafting proposals and general consulting.
At the beginning of 2015, I promised myself I would stop freelancing for free. That promise was powerful and prompted me to not only pitch, albeit awkwardly, to a potential client at a event earlier this year, but to charge her for my services and expertise. Unfortunately, I Iow-balled but was thrilled she wanted to work with me. almost six months later, we are stilling working together (and I have since increased my pricing)
The last week at my job, I had a few colleagues and close friends asked if I was “scared”. My reply and demeanor may have thrown them off a bit because I appeared and felt at ease. I was more than comfortable with my decision but the decision had chosen me many moons before. I simply needed to accept it and honor my intuition.
My last day as a full-time employee was two months ago. The last two months as a full-time entrepreneur is only the beginning.