How I Quit My Job and Started Freelancing

Mindset

If you’re at a job you hate and you want out, you can get out! And it doesn’t have to be as daunting of a task as it might seem.

To cut to the chase, I was able to quit my 9-5 corporate job by cutting my expenses way down and starting to freelance. Going from working in Clinical Operations in Pharma to freelancing social media marketing for small businesses was a jump, but I was able to make the jump after I built my experience and skills by working for free.

Padaar island- how to leave your 9-5

Getting out of the cubicle and exploring Indonesia.

First things first, though- if you’re at a 9-5 that you love, are fufilled by, and excited to go to everyday- pat yourself on the back because that is freaking awesome. I wrote this article for anyone who is doing something that their heart is not in. Something that they dislike, aren’t fufilled by, or  don’t want to doing everyday.

My 9-5 Story

It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting in a small gray cubicle under fluroscent lights quality checking standard operating procedures at a pharmaceutical company. If you don’t know what SOPs are, I’m jealous. How I found myself in that job in the first place is another story for another time. But, I stayed and worked in pharma for six years. I knew very much from the beginning that I didn’t want to be in the industry. But I couldn’t quite see my way out. I had a whole life set up around my job in Philly and I was pretty resistant to change. How was I going to uproot everything?

Looking back at this thought process boggles my mind now. Everything can be adjusted. Everything can be changed. And you are capable of doing whatever you want. You just have to want it, work for it, and believe in yourself enough to do it.

So back to the pharma position. After years of wasted time and unhappiness, I finally came to my senses. I needed to do something different.

I was interested in social media. It started when I was creating content for a fashion and food blog that I had previously. I became obsessed with creating for social, learning about it, meeting people through it, and understanding how it worked. And since I enjoyed it so much, I started asking myself if it was something I could do and possibly make a living from.

I started to seek out opportunities to build my experience. I looked for businesses who needed help with social and offered to do it for free. I started with the spin studio I went to almost every day. It was an awesome, incredibly energizing place, but they did not have any sort of social presence. I came up with a mini pitch, met with the owners, and to my surprise- they were game! I ran their Instagram account for an entire year while I was still working in pharma.

Once I built a social skillset, I sought out contract agencies like Robert Half and The Creative Circle. (Contract agencies like these can help to quickly place you with a freelance gig.) I also audited my online presence. I made sure my website and social media aligned with who I wanted to present myself as professionally. I completely updated my LinkedIn profile and focused it on my social media marketing experience. And then I started engaging with people on LinkedIn.

But the major magic sauce in leaving my 9-5 was cutting my expenses way, way down. I finished the lease on my apartment and, after a few months in California, moved in with my parents. I sold a lot of my clothing. I stopped spending money on coffees, crazy groceries, and meals out. I started doing free online workouts instead of paying for yoga classes every night.

And then I left the 9-5.

how i left my job and started freelancing

If you’re at a job you hate and you want out – you can get out. And it doesn’t have to be a huge daunting task.

Truth be told, I sort of blew up my life by quitting, getting rid of my apartment, putting my stuff in storage, and moving out to California without a job or a plan. I had some savings and I knew I loved CA, so I went.

But I wouldn’t recommend this, because if you don’t have a cushion, you are putting yourself in a pretty tough spot.

What I would recommend doing is starting to move toward what you want NOW. And you can do this in so many ways.

How to Quit Your Job and Start Freelancing

1.FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO INSTEAD OF THAT 9-5. OR, FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE REALLY INTERESTED IN

So how does a girl with a nutrition degree, a pharma job, and no experience get hired by businesses to do social media? By building experience through working for free.

2. WORK FOR FREE TO BUILD YOUR SKILLSET IN THE AREA OF INTEREST

Find a potential in to doing what you want to be doing.

Around the time when the whisper to leave my job was getting louder, I had started going to that spin studio that I previously mentioned. I absolutely fell in love with their message of positivity- they always made me feel like a champion when I was leaving.  (Shout out to Soulbeat Studio outside of Philadelphia.) After stalked their Facebook and Instagram accounts, I realized that their amazing message of positivity was not being communicated on their social channels. (This could be my in!) I had been familar with doing social from my blog but I had no experience working for a business or brand.

So, I sat down and poured out a ton of ideas of what they could be doing with their social accounts into a notebook. After that, I approached one of the studio owners with my ideas. To my surprise, she loved them. She met with the other owners, and they all agreed to let me take over their social in exchange for free classes. I was so FREAKING EXCITED.

3. UPDATE YOUR RESUME AND SEEK OUT CONTRACT AGENCIES AND SMALL BUSINESSES WITH YOUR NEW SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

After you build your experience and skillset- which takes some time- you can then move on to updating your resume (if that’s even necessary) and contact contract agencies for freelance positions. There are a ton of different agencies (like Robert Half and the Creative Circle to name a few). There are some drawbacks about agencies, like not having benefits (some offer them, some don’t). But contract agencies can usually find available positions for you quickly. And from there, you can start to get experience and build momentum.

S0, now we should talk about the elephant in the room- money. I can only speak from my experience, but one thing I knew that I needed to do when I left pharma was cut my expenses. (After I went on my quest trip to California, lol.) And this can be a scary thing. But it can make a BIG difference. A little scarfice for later long term pleasure in life makes all the difference.

4. CUT YOUR EXPENSES DOWN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

I know moving in with your parents is not an option for everybody. And I know everyone’s sitaution will very much vary. Some have houses, some have kids, some have a lot of commitments I’m not mentioning here. But a lot of times there are ways you to cut down expenses right now. For me, that was daily coffee, fitness classes (there’s a ton of free workouts on YouTube!),  and eating out. But it could also include pricey rent, an expensive car payment, happy hours, brunches, parking spots, monthly subscriptions, cable… this list goes on and on.

If leaving your 9-5 to pursue something you really want is important to you, a little short term sacrifice is worth everything in the long term.

5. SECURE A FLEXIBLE, FREELANCE GIG AND SAY PEACE OUT TO THAT CORPORATE GIG

You’ve made it! It’s time to leave that gig. But just to keep it really real- working for yourself as a solopreneur comes with its’ own set of challanges. You have to figure out things like health insurance, taxes, invoicing… this list also continues. It’s not easy. But it can be extremely gratifying. It provides you with a ton of flexibility and the freedom to do things exactly the way you want to do them. And to some, that is everything. 🙂

Be back soon with more tips and tricks on solopreneurship.

xo,

Lauren

Working on a train while traveling in Europe with my boyfriend . One perk of freelance life is definitely the mobility. 🙂

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  1. Ayana says:

    Lauren, I absolutely loved this! I remember I discovered you while you were still in corporate and were doing your fashion blog! I’m proud of you!! Super happy to see you flourish. Xoxo, Ayana

    • Ayana- this means so incredibly much to me- thank you for your support! You are a true gem and a sweetheart and have always been such a light to me every time we connect. Thank you so much- this means everything to me.

      xoxo, Lauren

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