We've all been there. We decide to go out on our own, and we want to cut ties with our old life. Maybe grinding away the day at your previous job gave you migraines, or your boss was a jerk, or you just want to start over and have nothing to do with that old life. But before you give someone a piece of your mind on the way out the door, remember that the connections you made there can help you when you branch out on your own.
When I decided to work for myself, my first client was the job I had just left behind. I was accepted into a creative writing MFA program, and the class load combined with my nine-to-five grind as a magazine editor would've been stressful, to say the very least. I was already working frequent overtime combined with a 45-minute one-way NYC commute, and adding studies to that schedule might well have killed me. So I weighed my options and decided to be a freelance writer. But instead of flying out the door waving my middle finger as I went, I sat down with my boss and asked if I could put the knowledge I had gained to use as a freelance writer.
As it turned out, while they were sad to see me go (and a little frustrated that they had to take steps to replace me) not losing me and my skillset entirely was in their best interest. What writer could possibly know what a magazine needs better than a former employee? That publication was in a very niche industry, and writers who know their stuff are hard to come by. I was able to use that to my advantage, and you can too.
Breaking out on your own isn't easy, so it's up to you to use every resource that you have. There are trade publications for everything from manufacturing, to food and dining, to retail, to IT. The list goes on and on. If you're struggling to find clients, don't just look ahead of you, also look behind. Whatever you did for a living before you decided to do this, someone needs a knowledgeable writer to write about it. If you're lucky, you could even get some blogging or content marketing gigs from your old employer.
You didn't spend years in your previous jobs for no reason. Everything you've done to this point can be used to fuel what you do next. You spent years acquiring skills and knowledge that you put to work for someone else. Don't throw that time away. Take that experience and make it work for you.