I quit my job to go freelancing
I’m excited AND I’m scared
About a week ago I quit my full-time job.
It was a great job, good money and being able to work from home all of the time was fantastic. Friends and family know the whole story — but other people rightfully assume I’m crazy. To explain my thinking, its worth hopping back 12 months and looking at what brought me here.
I work in IT; specifically I’m a Cloud Architect and Solutions Engineer. For any non-tech readers, that means I design and implement cloud solutions using Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (with a heavy emphasis on the latter); If it uses the cloud, chances are I know how it works.
I also love learning, the process of gaining knowledge, getting certified and helping others learn and develop their skills — its like a drug for me. In a way I’m blessed, I’m able to make a living doing what I love; It’s also a curse; the lines between my job and personal life don’t really exist for me.
12-months ago, I worked at a small IT integrator. I designed and implemented IT environments for our clients. My employer billed by the hour, and I took home a salary. The business wasn't doing great, it was busy, chaotic and we didn't have the people required to do the work within normal 40-hour weeks. I’ll spare you the details, but it resulted in 70-hour weeks for about 9 months, and a narrowly avoided burnout (which is a post for another time). I got out, and went to work for another company, on paper doing the same thing, in reality it couldn't have been more different.
Life was great there, but I’d already started giving a lot of thought to my 5 and 10-year plans. I’m a plan-freak, I love planning and don’t believe in the concept of ‘luck’ — what people see as luck, I see as the thing where preparation and opportunity meet. My 10-year plan was financial independence, I want myself and my partner (who is 7 years older than me) to be able to retire early and enjoy our new life in Australia. Shorter term though, I want to be able to remove my physical-location reliance on work — can I work from a coffee shop somewhere, 100% of the time? I also want to create or produce ‘things’ — Moving how I’m paid from a $/hr structure, to a $ per delivery, or a royalty model. I like to think I’m efficient — I want a payment structure that allows my efficiency to generate a better effective hourly rate for myself. Avoiding traditional schedules would also be nice — starting at odd times, or working 3 12-hour days and then having a few days off sounds perfect.
After six months of working at the above job, two things happened. The first, is that I started working on a online IT training course for an Amazon Web Services professional level certification — AWS DevOps Engineer Professional. A friend Nick Triantafillou introduced me to the Cloud Guru guys (Ryan Kroonenburg and Sam Kroonenburg) and together we started working on our course. Secondly the same friend suggested I apply for a job doing Cloud Solutions Engineering & Cloud Architecture — but at a company based in Sydney which offered 100% remote working. It worked out, I got the job and things moved on.
So back to the last 4 months….
At this point life is really good. We launched the course, it did really well and I’ve been working from home, in a great job, surrounded by four cats to entertain me. What struck me though, was how much I enjoyed creating the course. There were no schedules, no micro-deadlines and nobody looking over my shoulder. I agreed a delivery date, developed a high level plan and a course structure. Nick and I were then free to work however we wanted — but this was still constrained by our full-time jobs, it was a personal time thing, an evenings and weekend thing. We started to get feedback; total strangers explaining how our course had helped them pass a difficult exam and that felt really good — it made me want to do it even more, helping even more people.
A few months of nothing passed, I worked from home and started a new course on the side, also as a 2nd job. At the time of writing this, it’s almost complete, but thats not the important thing. I met up for coffee with Sam Kroonenburg and we ended up discussing what doing courses full time would look like. Sam wasn’t there to convince me of anything, just explain that from his point of view there was the work and the opportunity. He sold me, the seed was planted, and for the next 2–3 weeks I could think of little else — working through the lifestyle and financial impact of moving full time to a content creation role.
I should add , making courses doesn't provide a fixed income. Courses sell and Cloud Guru and I get a percentage each. There are even monthly variations — for some people this wouldn't work. But on the flip-side, there isn't an ‘hourly’ expectation for this income. In fact, the money coming in is for work work I’ve already done — I could be sat on a beach and still making it, and this is a hugely liberating feeling.
Then it hit me, thats the only way I can describe it. After weeks of thinking, of background processing, it took over my brain and I resigned, almost on the spot. I gave up a good, regular, and stable full time income and decided to live entirely on the revenues from content I produce.
I won’t lie, It scares the hell out of me. On the one hand I’ve simplified my life, I can work whenever I want, from wherever I want. But, and this is a big but, I’ve also taken on significant risk — if the course(s) don’t sell, where does the money come from ? How will I handle tax, retirement contributions and everything else. There are a lot of elements I haven’t even considered and feelings that I didn’t expect. In short, I’m an equal amount excited and scared to death — the next 1–2 years will probably be the best or worst of recent times.
I’m going to blog my journey — I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I’ve had help from the Quit! and Cortex podcasts, not to mention the amazing support from everyone at Cloud Guru and Nick Triantafillou. I’d like to help, or dissuade others by documenting my experiences and feelings throughout the whole process. I’m in a position where I can take the risk — just do it and see how it works out. I understand that for people who are less fortunate or in a life situation with more commitments, this isn’t the case. If my experiences can help them — all the better.
Wish me ‘luck’ — even though I don’t believe in it.
If you want to support me, then checkout the amazing courses at A Cloud Guru the All5 or Professional bundles are especially good value. I’ll also be doing short term consultancy in Brisbane/Australia or remotely, if you need, or know anyone who needs Architecture, Design or Implementation consultancy for AWS/Azure or GCE then give me a shout and we can talk.
A special mention to Myke Hurley your podcasts, specifically Cortex have made this much less scary and much more exciting — my shoes were dusty! :)