Last updated: May 3, 2018.
A few weeks ago, I decided that my efforts to find a traditional job was getting me nowhere.
Despite cutting back my criteria down to simply trying to find something I don’t hate (regardless of pay, hours, or type of work), it’s been over 3 months since my last job interview. And once again, I was crushed when I didn’t hear back from the only other promising opportunity since then.
The constant rejection was getting to me.
Even though I tailored each application to the job (sometimes spending hours doing so), I’m sure my lack of confidence was still somehow evident. Every unanswered application made me want to give up – so that’s exactly what I did.
I gave up.
I gave up feeling sorry for myself.
I gave up wasting 40 hours a week obsessively checking job boards.
I gave up applying for jobs I didn’t even want.
I gave up thinking that my career potential was in someone else’s control.
Instead, I focused on becoming self employed and in control of my own life.
Unlike a lot of other bloggers I know that have left the 9-to-5 type jobs behind, my definition of “self-employment” does not focus solely on earning an income online. While working from home is extremely appealing to me as a homebody, I know I’m not ready to do just that. Being home all the time was part of what caused (or at least added to) the slump I was in, and I don’t want that to happen again. I need something that gets me out of the house, at least sometimes.
Therefore, my self-employment also includes things like babysitting, pet sitting, and tutoring.
Of these, the easiest transition for me and the most in-demand role is babysitting. Which is why it made up the majority of my income for what I’m going to call my “first month of self-employment”.
Although I’ve been supplementing my un(der)employment with my blog and related online work for over a year now, making money online was never my focus. It was a hobby that just happened to bring in a bit of income, too.
My approach was very casual. I didn’t have any goals in mind or any semblance of a plan. I just wrote about whatever was going on in my life, published posts sporadically, and hoped someone would use one of my affiliate links or click on an ad so I’d earn few bucks. This approach was vaguely successful, as I made about $500 between January and July of this year. (Although, more than half of that was from answering surveys on Swagbucks.)
When I decided to really give this a shot, I knew that I needed a plan. I needed to set a goal to help keep me motivated and accountable.
I settled on $1000 a month as a starting point.
It’s a challenging but realistic goal and is roughly equal to what I made at my last job, so at the very least I’m not moving backwards.
How did my first month of self employment go?
Unfortunately, I didn’t reach my goal of making $1000 in August. But I was pretty close.
I made roughly $875.
Of that income, only 20% came from online sources.
Making enough money online to replace the income of a more traditional job is going to take time. I wish it was just as easy as (finally!) posting a Hire Me page, but let’s be real. It’s a good step, but the jobs aren’t going to magically start rolling in from that alone. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?
Majority of this income has been thanks to the friends and connections I’ve made online (extra shout out this month to Vanessa and Anne!). At least once a week, someone I only know online sends me a job posting or advertising opportunity. The majority don’t work out, but I learn and gain more confidence with each exchange and attempt.
The remaining 80% of my income came from babysitting.
When I was first laid off, I thought about getting back into babysitting, as I’ve always loved working with kids. But I never pursued it. I was still hanging onto the assumption that I’d be re-hired at the college and foolishly didn’t take my unemployment seriously.
When I wasn’t re-hired, I should have explored this route instead of sort of reluctantly taking the job at the gym’s daycare. I had no idea how many people were/are looking for reliable childcare. Or that some pay more per hour then I made when I worked at the theatre!
I asked my friends on Facebook to keep me in mind if they were in need (or knew someone who was) and created a profile on a childcare website that I often saw on other job boards.
And it was literally just that easy.
Within a week I was watching an old childhood friend of mine’s kids for the weekend. Shortly after that, I was hired by a young family looking for regular part-time care for their 2-year-old daughter. This gig alone earns me about 75% of what I made at the daycare, in 50% of the time. They take off all the proper taxes and deductions, which saves me from having to tax myself. (Although using software like FreshBooks would make it easy to handle by myself, should I need to.)
And I’m not miserable, or constantly getting sick from it, either.
Okay, so earning $875 a month isn’t great. But it is better than the nothing I would likely be earning otherwise. And it’s enough to keep the bills paid.
I’ll be honest, though. I was hesitant to include the numbers in this post because it is embarrassing to share with those that may not know my story. But I decided I need to be open about it. A part of me is hoping that in the not-too-distant future, I can look back at this starting point and see how far I’ve come.
After all, when Michelle of Making Sense of Cents started tracking her online income back in May 2012, she only made $362 but is now making 6-figures each month!
I probably won’t ever reach a milestone like this, but for the first time in a long time, I’m actually feeling confident that I can make a living on my own terms.
More importantly, though – I’m happy.
And that is extremely liberating!
I can’t remember that last time I’ve been able to say that about my work life. And I can’t believe how much of a positive impact it has already made on every other aspect of my life, as well.
This is just the beginning.
YOUR TURN: If you are self-employed or have a side hustle, do you set financial goals for yourself? If so, do they help keep you motivated or do they just cause you stress?
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