“I don't miss a thing about being employed. I hated it.”
From Marketing to Solopreneur
What work were you doing previously?
I worked in tourism and hospitality marketing.
I was the Marketing Manager for what was then the largest hotel in Cornwall. Then I moved back to Somerset to be closer to my family and had to take a job as a Marketing Assistant because that was all there was available at the time.
It was tough taking a step back; I think that contributed to the dissatisfaction which led to me ultimately leaving employment.
What are you doing now?
I'm an artist, illustrator and designer.
Why did you change?
I craved freedom!
Also, as an introvert and a highly sensitive person (HSP), I always struggled with spending a lot of time around other people.
I started my first business as a way to avoid having another job, so what I did wasn't as important as the fact I was doing it for myself.
I started out doing random bits of virtual assistant work and copywriting; that led me into doing a lot of marketing work, because as soon as people in my network found out that I had a marketing background, that was what they asked for. I ended up doing that for a few years before realising that I had (ironically) created another job for myself, albeit with many bosses rather than just one.
I looked at what I really wanted to do with my life. Now, I'm moving away from client work altogether, towards writing and illustrating books, and other self-initiated artistic projects.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I was given a copy of Barbara Winter's classic career-change book, Making A Living Without A Job.
Are you happy with the change?
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I don't miss a thing about being employed.
I hated it.
How did you go about making the shift?
I just left.
I had no plans at all. I left my marketing job and ended up spending a summer potting geraniums in a friend's plant nursery whilst I worked out what to do with my life.
Then I moved to a brand new city and set about starting my business and meeting as many people as possible to get the word out.
I didn't have any formal training but drawing and painting has been a lifelong hobby for me. My mum is an artist so I was taught to draw at a very young age and revisited it in 2013 when I produced The Gratitude Project, a personal art project. It became very popular and people began asking me to do illustrations and hand lettering for them. It sort of grew from there.
I used to live in Wiveliscombe – a tiny town in the middle of Somerset – before I moved to Bristol to begin my new life. The move was integral to my career change as I wanted a completely fresh start.
I could have quit my job and started my self-employment journey without moving to Bristol, but it would have been much more difficult. Living in the city meant that I could build a network super-fast. It also allowed me to take advantage of opportunities and events that just weren't available in the countryside.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
I did some temp work to make ends meet initially but it was a bit hairy for a few months.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Other people's concern.
What help did you get?
I read a lot of books and business blogs.
I also met people who were working for themselves and asked loads of questions.
What have you learnt in the process?
So much about life, people and myself.
There's nothing like self-employment to bring up all your personal issues and force you to confront them!
What do you wish you'd done differently?
I wish I'd had some capital behind me.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
Do whatever it takes.
We only get one go at this life – make it count.
What resources would you recommend to others?
Pricing for Profit by Peter Hill, Watertight Marketing by Bryony Thomas, and Marie Forleo's website.
To find out more about Eli's work, visit www.elitrier.com.
What lessons could you take from Eli's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.