Susan Barnes of Travelin’ Girl, shares her story of following her dreams and becoming a freelance writer. It’s quite an uplifting read. Enjoy!
One year ago, I set out for my greatest adventure to date – becoming a full-time freelance writer. I left a fulfilling full-time job, working with people a terrific group of people whom I respect, to follow my passion into the unknown. After a year of see-sawing, I decided to take the plunge and make my move – we’ve only one life to live, after all, and I wanted to live mine to its fullest.
I’d been freelancing part-time for about seven years, with some level of success. I have regular outlets for which I write, and am constantly researching the marketplace for new ideas, new media, new editors. When a story idea strikes, I shuffle through my mind to think of which may be the best fit, and go for it. Freelancing can be a tough gig – there’s a lot of rejection, a lot of unanswered queries, a lot of uncertainty.
But freelancing can be quite, well, freeing, too. I set my schedule, which may mean a morning session at the gym followed by quiet time with my pup, or a mani/pedi mid-day when others are desk side. It may also mean than when a deadline is looming and inspiration strikes, whether that be 8:30 a.m. or midnight, I’m up and at my computer working. I am my toughest boss, and my worst critic.
A year ago, my husband showed me once again his unparalleled confidence in me, supporting me in this wild endeavor, simply knowing that it would be a success, especially when I felt unsure. My family has been incredibly supportive, too, knowing that if I trusted in myself, I’d be fine. Friends joke that I’ve retired, and simply travel now. But as any freelancer knows, we most likely work harder for ourselves than we had for any 9 to 5 job (or, 8 to 5 is more likely).
And over the past year, I’ve had incredible experiences. I’ve traveled to Portland (Maine), Charleston (a number of times!), Auburn, Maui, Savannah, West Palm Beach, Jupiter Beach, Huntsville, DC, Cancun, Sarasota, Orlando, Park City, Delray Beach, Palm Beach, Austin, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Toronto, Clearwater, Barbados, Chesapeake Bay, Roanoke, St. Louis, Vancouver Island and Minneapolis.
I’ve met incredibly talented writers and photographers, many of whom have become friends. I’ve worked with new editors, and those I’ve worked with since the beginning. I’ve learned a lot, be it from a travel bloggers’ conference, or talking with colleagues. I’ve partnered with a group of six amazing women, all travel writers, and we recently celebrated our one-year #girlstravel chat anniversary on Twitter, with Karina Dresses as a guest co-host!
I’ve got a lot more to learn, too. I need to learn how to better manage my time so that evenings are spent with my husband and pup, rather than in front of the computer screen. I need to learn how much is too much, and whether it is in fact OK to decline an invitation or an assignment. I’m going to learn how to become more efficient in my writing, and how to better partner, at the KEEN Digital Summit in Nashville next month.
One thing I do know is that I wouldn’t change a thing. Sure, it’s sometimes scary, nerve wracking and uncertain. But then again, what great adventure isn’t?
A year ago, I followed my dreams.