“I knew it wouldn't be easy, but that I'd always regret it if I didn't give it a chance.”
What work were you doing previously?
I was a community manager and marketer.
What are you doing now?
Now, I'm a freelance travel writer and blogger.
Why did you change?
I realised I was putting all my knowledge and effort into marketing someone else's dream when I could be marketing my own.
I'd wanted to live abroad for some time, too, and with the cost of living in continental Europe being lower than in the UK, I thought it'd be a great time to up sticks and try something new (while I was still young and had no responsibilities!).
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I'd had my travel-related blog for about three years, whilst I was employed. I started getting offers from companies to write for them.
I suddenly thought, "Hang on a minute – if people are reaching out to me without me doing much, imagine what could happen if I started marketing myself to similar brands that were approaching me".
Are you happy with the change?
Absolutely! It was the best decision I've ever made.
I knew at the start it wouldn't be easy, but it was one of those things I knew I'd always regret if I didn't give it a chance.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss the social side of being an employee, but that's pretty much it!
I don't miss set hours. I don't miss having to report every little thing I do to a manager. Basically, I don't miss working for someone else!
How did you go about making the shift?
Before I quit my full-time job, I set up a freelancer site and contacted the HMRC to set myself up as self-employed. Both my parents are self-employed so I had a lot of support and help from them in that regard.
Then, during the last month of my employment, I started putting myself out there and pitching for work. I got in touch with old contacts, I signed up to writing job boards, and I spent every spare moment outside of work researching or reaching out to travel brands and potential clients. It was hard work, but I knew that if I wanted to do it I'd have to have a client or two before I dived in.
What didn't go well? What 'wrong turns' did you take?
It's actually really difficult to go from being employed to being your own boss. You are your sole motivator and you have to deal with literally every side of the business – the marketing, the finances, the admin, everything.
I undersold myself for ages, too. I was just starting out and I wasn't confident in my abilities, as I hadn't had much feedback. I spent the first few months working till all hours for not very much money.
I soon realised I had the skills and experience to charge higher rates. I'm now working much less for much more!
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
I already had about £5000 in savings before I went freelance, so I knew I wouldn't end up out on the streets any time soon.
But the nature of my shift also meant I had to change how I documented my earnings. I needed to keep track of all incomings and outgoings, particularly for tax purposes, so I set up tonnes of spreadsheets and set aside time every month to go over my finances.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Not knowing how the finances will look from one month to the next!
Freelancing is brilliant, but it can also be stressful. I know in this day and age you can be fired from your full-time job at a moment's notice, but for some reason people think it's much worse being a freelancer.
Sure, there are some months where I wonder how I'm going to make any money at all, and it can be frustrating trying to justify rates and my skillset to clients, but it also means there's no roof to my earnings. Essentially, I can earn as much as I want.
What help did you get?
I joined lots of freelancing Facebook groups and I also had a solid support network around my blog.
I didn't seek out any financial advisors or professionals to help with the move, but now I'm wondering whether it would have been a good idea to get a mentor to see me through the process. It might have given me more confidence at the start!
What have you learnt in the process?
Oh wow, so much.
I've learnt that I'm much more business savvy than I ever could have imagined.
I've also learnt that a lot of people make excuses when it comes to giving up their job and doing what they want. I didn't have all the money in the world, but I knew that if I didn't give freelancing a go I'd be stuck in an office job for the next ten, twenty years. That scared the hell out of me more than not having any money.
What do you wish you'd done differently?
Nothing, I think.
Though it was rocky to begin with, if I hadn't have had those experiences at the start I don't think I'd be in the position I'm in today.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
Go for it. I know it sounds like a cliché, but that's all you have to do.
There are all the excuses in the world about why you shouldn't do it and I'm sure you'll tell yourself over and over again that you don't have the money or the time to build up the skill-set needed.
But in reality? It's a lot, lot easier than you think. You just have to want it badly enough.
What resources would you recommend to others?
Join a community of other freelancers.
That's the best resource you'll find – others who have been through the same experience and come out the other side dancing!
To find out more about Lizzie's writing, visit www.wanderful-world.com/
What lessons could you take from Lizzie's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.