A temporary side job I took for $15 at a time led me to a fulfilling career I never expected

GaudiLab/Shutterstock.comThe author is not pictured.
  • After graduating from business school, Anna Baluch took a temporary side job writing for $US15 per article because it was the first job she could get.
  • When she was later hired full-time for another role, she kept freelancing to make a little extra money.
  • She started to build up her side work as a writer to the point that she was essentially holding two full-time jobs, and chose to quit her day job to write full-time, a career she loves but didn’t always plan to have.

A few months before I graduated with my MBA, I was searching for my first “real” job. I was living in Chicago at the time and open to moving just about anywhere for the right position.

After sitting in a Starbucks for days and applying to hundreds of jobs, I finally got one response.

The response was from a digital marketing agency in Chicago that specialised in helping car dealerships build their online presence. Since they didn’t have any openings for a full-time job, they asked me if I wanted to write automotive content for them on a freelance basis.

At first, I was a bit frustrated. I spent so much time applying to jobs and the first bite I received wasn’t even for a full-time gig. After doing some more research on the company, I decided that I’d give this freelance thing a shot while I continued my search for a full-time job. I liked cars and writing, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

A few days after I accepted the freelance gig at the automotive marketing agency, they sent me my first assignment. It was a 350-word article on the 2013 lineup of Mercedes-Benz SUVs. The pay was only $US15 but at the time I didn’t think that was bad because I finished it in less than an hour while sitting on my couch in my pajamas.

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I continued to write these automotive articles for $US15 a pop until I landed my first full-time job as a link builder at a large marketing company in Charlotte, North Carolina. After a few months at my full-time job in Charlotte, I decided that I’d love some extra money and began writing the automotive articles again. It was a nice little side gig that allowed me to pay for a few luxuries that my meager entry-level salary simply didn’t allow for.

Eventually, I moved back home to Cleveland and found a new full-time job at an insurance company. I continued to freelance write on the side but wanted to diversify my portfolio so I began to search for new clients. After landing three new clients, I was able to significantly increase my writing income and write about more than just cars. I was writing about dental procedures, home improvement projects, moving solutions, and a plethora of other random topics.

I loved making extra money on the side in the comfort of my own home and continued to do so for the next four years. I was landing new clients on a regular basis and eventually got to the point where I was earning more from freelancing than I was working full-time for someone else.

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Since I was writing before work, after work, and on the weekends, I started to get very overwhelmed. I basically had two full-time jobs and my husband convinced me that I had to pick one. After about eight months of a full-time job and writing like crazy on the side, I quit my full time job and became a full-time freelancer.

October 1, 2018 was my last day working a full-time job and I can honestly say that quitting was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to significantly scale my writing income and enjoy a higher quality of life. I am now in control of my own schedule and income and love working from home. While I don’t get a steady paycheck, health insurance, a 401(k) match, or paid time off, the pros of self-employment outweigh the cons for me.

If someone would have told me that the $US15 automotive articles I was writing back in 2013 would put me on the path toward becoming self-employed, I would have laughed and called them crazy. I am forever grateful that the automotive marketing agency got back to me and introduced me to the world of freelance writing because my life has been changed for the better.

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