What did you major in in college / what was your first job out of college?
I majored in Marketing and English at the University of Notre Dame. Little did I know that the combination would be a perfect foundation for starting my own freelance writing business, Melrose Street Custom Content! My first job out of college was at a media agency where I did search marketing and magazine advertising planning/buying. I loved learning all about magazines--the business side, editorial side, readers, and content.
How long did it take to realize it wasn't for you? What were the initial signs of "help, get me out of here!"?
I worked at the company for about 5 1/2 years, which sounds like a long time, but I was constantly challenged through rotations to new accounts, a promotion, and new team members (though sometimes it was a little too "challenging" as far as demanding deadlines and lots of stress). After about 4 years there, I felt the need to write more and be creative. In thinking about my career path, I came to the realization that I didn't really want my boss's job... it was time to strive for something different.
What was the first thing you did after you left your job? Scream?
I quit in December, so at first it felt like an extended holiday vacation, but after a little bit of celebrating, I dove into marketing. I told everyone I knew about my new business via emails, blog posts, social media, and LinkedIn. I had already established the business side (registration, a website, logo, business cards, etc), so it was time to spread the word.
What sort of "homework" did you do before turning your passion into a career?
Back in 2010, I started working towards a Master's in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University (I'll graduate this spring!). I created a blog,Inspiration and Rough Drafts, as a creative outlet and a space to exercise my writing skills. I also joined Chicago Women in Publishing, took an online course called Freelance Writer's Blast-off, and read everything I could about freelancing and starting your own business.
How long have you been working for yourself?
In early 2011, I went to an event hosted by Chicago Women in Publishing and was completely inspired to venture into the world of freelancing. At that point, I worked to set up the business, but I didn't actually go out on my own until I quit my job in December 2011.
What is the scariest thing about doing what you did?
Leaving behind the salary, benefits, and that sense of security. It's a big leap of faith, and as much as it's fun to dream, I had to consider the practical side. (I did a lot of praying, discussing, and number-crunching with my husband! I couldn't have made the leap without knowing he was on board, and I am so thankful for all his support.) Other scary parts: the uncertainty of not always knowing what to do... and facing the possibility of rejection and failure.
Do you ever regret leaving your day job?
Not yet! Life is super busy right now, and some days are really tough, but I am happy with the choice I made... I'm following my dream!
What is your #1 piece of advice to people scared to follow their dreams in fear of failure?
Consider the worst case and best case scenario... you'll find that the benefits of the best case scenario often outweigh the negatives of the worst case. Take the first step and keep moving forward. And don't be afraid to lean on other people for support--your family, friends, or other small business owners.