Friday, March 27, 2015

Another New Beginning

This photo is relevant, I swear.

Last week I interviewed for, and was offered, a full time job. After a week of weighing the pros and cons, doing more math in one day than in the last decade combined, and making many hard decisions, I decided to take the job. I started on Wednesday and any fears or reservations I had disappeared - this, I quickly realized, is where I'm supposed to be. Thus, it's official: I'm no longer a freelance writer. 

I realize this may come as a surprise to some of my readers. When I wrote about freelancing on the blog, I was usually upbeat, enthusiastic, and positive. This wasn't a lie, exactly. I loved nearly everything about freelancing. The variety of work, my wonderful clients, the freedom of making my own schedule, the joy of working from home, the pride of owning my own tiny business. I felt good about freelancing, even when I alluded to its ups and downs, irregular paychecks, and ridiculous tax burdens. So why am I giving it up? 

In the end, it came down to money. I simply wasn't making enough. I had some really good months, which buoyed me and gave me hope, but those months were few and far between. Most of the time, I made a pretty great part time salary. The only problem was, thanks to five years of graduate school, crushing student loan debt, and a tenacious credit card balance, part time wasn't cutting it. And so I started looking for full time work in my field, which, I'd decided, despite having no degrees or credentials, was content marketing. I recognize that my greatest strength is my writing, and content marketing is a way to use that skill and get paid pretty well for it. (Hardly anyone, it turns out, pays very well for fiction. C'est la vie.) Since I was still freelancing, I didn't rush my job search. I waited for the right position to come along. And then it did. 

My new title is "Content Marketing Specialist," and I'm working at a digital marketing agency in Wilmington, in an office full of smart, creative, and friendly people. While I'm giving up some of my freelancer freedoms (not wearing pants is the main one) I'm also gaining some pretty neat stuff, like a bigger paycheck, health benefits, and a team of talented folks that I'm excited to work alongside. I feel really lucky to have landed this job. As far as marketing goes, I'm self-taught and I know I have a ton to learn. I'm excited that my weird assortment of skills (writing, research, communication, and the Internet) have finally come together in a career that makes sense. And I can't wait to go to the dentist. Seriously. It's been over five years. 

The thing I was (and am) most worried about is acclimating to a 40 hour work week, and still having the time and energy to write. The last time I worked in an office I barely wrote, and quit to go get an MFA. Now, I am telling myself, things are different. I just spent three years in an MFA program. I've already finished writing one book. I've sunk a lot of time and energy into this writing thing, and I know how to prioritize it. Also, if I don't keep writing, I have a number of great friends and a supportive husband who will yell at me until I start again. And so I will start again, and again, and again. 

I spent ten months supporting myself as a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. Even though it wasn't a sustainable career, it was an amazing experience. I learned so much about myself, what I want to do, and how to work really, really hard. I chased down leads, got over my fear of talking on the phone, cold-called editors and businesses, never missed a deadline, put together an impressive portfolio, and paid my bills. All of those self-taught skills helped me land this job, and I'm excited to see how far I can take this career, especially now that I have the support and guidance of an actual agency.

Upward and onward!