Before I became a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger and started working in digital content and social media strategy – I was a DJ.
I have DJ’d over 400+ weddings and events during my six year career, working for myself and running my own company. After about the millionth wedding, I could not listen to Canon in D or Shook Me All Night Long any longer – it was time to jump ship, even if it was the ship I built.
Working every single weekend was starting to get to me. I was missing out on my own friends getting married, I had to turn down family BBQs, I rarely saw my husband, my 20s were just sort of flying by and I just felt like I was missing out on life. Anyone working in the service industry can surely relate. The money was amazing, but I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t picture myself doing this for the rest of my life. I also think that I gave it a good go – six years was something to be proud of, but I knew it was time to move on.
So I chose a new career.
My non-negotiables? I had to be able to work from anywhere in the world. I would only consider jobs and careers where I could work for myself and work remotely. Being in the wedding industry tied me down to a time and place almost a year in advance, I wanted a career that would offer me the opposite. So freelancing was the life for me.
If you’re thinking about making a career switch or even busting out on your own, there are a few things I would suggest you consider:
1) Have 6 Months of Living Expenses in the Bank. If you know you are going to be quitting your job or switching careers you need to have six months worth of rent + living expenses in the bank. It may take you longer than you think to get yourself up and running again, so you want to give yourself as much of a cushion as possible. I knew a year ahead of time that I was leaving the DJ game. I aggresively paid off all my debts, my car, reduced my expenses and banked everything I could. Setting a quitting deadline for me and sticking to it really helped. It was a motivator for everything that I set in motion once that date was set.
2) Test the Waters – What are you thinking about pursuing next? Take a class, read a lot of books, intern, volunteer, talk to other people in your field or at your new company – do whatever you can to test the waters to get a feel for what it is you want to do next. It’s very important that you research your switch as much as possible so you know what you’re getting into. At the same time, you need to go with your gut – it’s right 90% of the time. You don’t want to scare yourself out of making the switch, you want to make as educated of a decision as possible. This isn’t necessarily about taking a leap of faith, this is about creating a well thought-out strategy for your life, your well-being and your career.
3) What is the Business Model? – Thinking of starting your own thing? What is business model of your competitors in your city, country and continent? Are they profitable? Will you make enough money to support yourself? Do the research before jumping into something blindly. Maybe your passion will just be your part-time hobby and will not replace the income you are making now. Are you ok with that? Can you truly live off your passion?
4) Hustle Hard. – For me to replace the very handsome salary I was taking home every weekend from DJ-ing, I had to hustle hard to make it as a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger. What did this mean? Going to networking events, creating and hosting events, meeting other bloggers and editors and telling everyone I knew what I was doing now. I have always treated my blog as a business because I had no other choice. It was either this or go back to working weekends as a DJ and that chapter of my life was very much over for me.
5) Cut Expenses – Since I was not rolling in dough after making the big career switch I decided to cut expenses. I started to cook more and didn’t eat out as often. I spent less money on stupid things I didn’t need. I cut back on traveling. Can you move into a smaller place or live with roommates or back with your parents? Ask yourself are these the sacrifices you are willing to make in order to switch careers?
6) Consider a Part-Time Job – Until your own thing finally takes off, you may want to consider taking on a part-time job to cover any gap in your expenses during your transition phase. Or maybe freelancing in your field will be part of what makes up your overall lifestyle and career. Would your current employer allow you to become a freelance contractor? Would you consider doing this part-time until you transitioned fully into your new career?
In the end, you have to do what’s best for you. I made the decision to leave DJ-ing behind and I’ve never looked back. I don’t miss it because I felt like I left at the peak of my career and I have now been there and done that.
Have you ever made a major career switch? If so, what advice would you offer?