I wasted years of my life working for other people and doing things I didn’t want to do. I couldn’t even remember what I did from one day to the next. Weeks and months few by. It was all so meaningless.
When I look back now, nearly a decade after cubicle life, I ask myself why it had to be this way? Why did I suffer the boredom and humiliation for so long without questioning? Can I stop this pain for other people?
I have always avoided advising people to leave their jobs and “live the dream”. Everybody has different overheads, different priorities and different responsibilities. It’s impossible to tell people whether they should do this. But it is possible for me to explain how I did this and, if it helps one person, then the hours writing this won’t be wasted.
Making the “big break”
One option is to save up a sum of money, leave work, sell up and embark on some amazing idea that will be the next [insert iconic product here].
People who try this have visions of themselves running vast corporations, heading meetings and taking on “bastard” mode because they think that’s how businesspeople behave.
Don’t have visions of yourself; have a vision for yourself.
The reality for the people who try the “big break” is getting bogged down in details, running out of money and having to return to the cubicle with their tail between their legs saying, “well, at least I tried, dammit!”
The slow determined climb
Instead of a “big break” it makes sense to transition from full-time employment through part-time employment or freelancing before you go it alone.
And instead of having to dream up some amazing idea that will be the next [insert iconic product here], you simply provide services for other people – via your company.
What I mean is: freelancing. It’s not sexy, it’s not scalable, it’s not passive income, but it works.
Start a blog
You knew that was coming, didn’t you? 😉 Set up a custom responsive self-hosted WordPress website and work morning, noon and night on making it the best you possibly can.
Titles are important – the title of your website as well as the titles of your blog posts. Make sure the title of your website (WordPress > Settings > General > Site Title) is descriptive of the job you can do for people. For example:
- Freelance technical copy-writer Baltimore
- Freelance Drupal developer Bangalore
- Double-entry book-keeping Brisbane
Can you see what I’m doing here? Because of the importance Google places on titles, you are more likely to connect with someone in your local area wanting your skills by placing buying keywords in the site title.
And it doesn’t end there. Write blog posts with titles that will bait potential clients. Think this is impossible with billions of web pages competing for eyeballs and Google’s preference for well-established websites? Think again!
I show in this course that, with just a few blog posts and one link, you can get traffic for keywords with buying intent to a new website.
What was easy in 2005 is perfectly possible in 2015. Too many people start blogs and write general blog posts and give up due to lack of interest – theirs and other people’s. Keep your titles specific.
Start collecting emails from your website and update them about your latest blog posts. Why? It will benefit you later, but not now. Now you’re just starting out so you need to work.
Freedom starts with freelancing
Money isn’t everything. It’s not even the main reason why we work for ourselves (that’s freedom). But you’ll feel a hell of a lot better when you start making it.
Use all your contacts, go to meet ups and perform basic local SEO on your blog (see above). Try to attract people to hire your services.
There’s no feeling like it: Doing a better job for clients than the legions of cubicle dwellers in bloated corporations. You are young, lean and nimble.
The work you get is more interesting. You stretch your existing skillset and you are forced to acquire new expertise. You’re personally identified with the work and the client knows it. Trust develops.
Meanwhile, build passive income foundations
All the time you’re working for clients, create quality content on your blog and collect email addresses.
The blog posts sit on your site forever. As months and years pass they will attract traffic, comments and links – you gradually become an authority.
As you create more and more content, your email list swells into a legion of loyal and enthusiastic fans who are glad to receive valuable updates from you.
Asking the audience and creating products
Ask your email list “what are you struggling with right now?” The answers will help you build your first product.
All this experience – working for clients, understanding your clients problems, blogging, engaging with an email list and understanding your audience’s problems – will inform the subject matter of your first products.
You can do it
Typically, successful entrepreneurs become successful after multiple attempts or success comes after beavering away for a period of time.
I believe the “freelance first” model works well for some types of entrepreneur – it certainly worked for me. It provides money, experience and momentum early on whilst you develop the eco-system, skills and following to successfully build and market products.
What do you think?