Giving Notice: How To Make That Final Leap


Photo: ‘Derek J’ by Phil Watt

It’s been almost a year since I left behind a viable book publishing career for the terrifying uncertainty of freelancedom.

A questionable move considering that, three years before, I had been applying to just about any full-time staff job I could conceivably be considered qualified for.

To make an excruciating story less excruciating, let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling quite right within the corporate environment.

Now I work a number of freelance gigs, most of them from home, and I’ve never been happier. So, of course, I want everyone else to try it, too!

But as much as I advocate trying out new career paths, jumping blindly isn’t the smartest way to go.

Make A Plan and, for the Love of God, Stick With It. Achieving your dreams can be as simple as writing down what it is you want, and then figuring out the steps you must take in order to get there. Do you need further training? Perhaps you need to take some night classes or pursue an internship. Are you unsure what direction you’d like to take? Setting up informational interviews or attending networking events or Meet-Ups could help. What else should appear on your to-do list? Frequenting online forums in the area you’re interested in. Reading a ton of books. Piling on a second night job. By the time time you get through this list, you’ll most likely have arrived at your dream destination

Prepare Yourself. This took many forms in my case. With interests in narrative journalism, magazines, and blogging, I:

Save Your Pennies. Even with heavy preparation, success is never a sure thing, and the life of a freelancer can go up and down in terms of income, new clients, etc. Do you have enough in the bank to pay the bills? Your savings account should probably have 6 months’ to a year’s worth of savings (at least). Or if the thought of unsteady income gives you butterflies in your stomach, it might be smartest to seek out a part-time job you can count of, as a means of supplementing your freelance income. Think of it as training wheels.

Make Sure Everyone Is On Board. If you’re married or living with someone, this decision you’re preparing to make affects more than just you. Make sure your man (or woman) is on board and comfortable with your decision. Discuss your fears and figure out safety measures to put in place. It may be infuriating to have to compromise on the way to achieving your dreams, but that’s what you signed up for when you said “I do.” (::sigh::)

Spread the Word. Make sure all your friends and acquaintances know what you’re up to. It can’t hurt to have them spreading the word. And speaking of spreading the word, network like hell. I attend MediaBistro’s cocktail parties, in addition to blogger-specific meetups. Ed2010 also has happy hours for those interested in magazine publishing, and Networking for Professionals has…well…networking events for all types of professionals.

The above may seem like a lot. Many called me obsessed. But hot damn, when I was ready to leave my full-time job, I was ready.

Next step? Draw up your letter of resignation, give your two weeks’ notice, and do a little happy dance.


  1. Hi there! I found you through Freelance Switch. This is great advice. I’ve got a lot of these books on my list to read! I’m hoping to do a little happy dance soon! 🙂

  2. @Lisa: For some reason, I never get sick of reading about this stuff. The Writing and Self-Help aisles of Barnes & Noble are well-frequented by me.

    Perhaps we should all videotape our happy dances for all of posterity…


  1. […] Planning: Passion, however, isn’t everything, and those who rush into projects without the proper preparation may find themselves crashing and burning. Are you able to set specific goals, and then outline the distinct steps necessary to reach those goals? Are you willing to take the time to be prepared? […]

  2. […] all my preparations, when I finally went full-time freelance, I was clueless when it came to finding new projects. As I […]

  3. […] I did everything right when preparing for my departure from the corporate world. I did my research. I secured a steady gig that would allow me the time to grow as a freelancer. I discussed the risks and ramifications with my husband. And then I jumped. […]

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