From (really) clueless to self-employed in two years

I am a writer.

It took me a very, very long time to come to terms with the fact that writing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.

To get to that, I had to talk myself out of the belief that I’m just a tiny piece of a corporate machine and that writing is just a hobby, an unachievable dream, an unrealistic career.

I’m feeling grateful and somewhat privileged to proudly be doing the job I am today — crafting words with a purpose behind them in order to help businesses achieve their goals — and all on my terms.

Grateful, because I’m healthy, with a roof over my head, an infinitely supportive husband who’s with me literally every step of the way, loving family and friends, and a desire to always learn and become better at everything I do.

Somewhat privileged, because the circumstances played to my favor so many times in my life. I grew up learning English since I was about 8 years old (I’m Croatian, hence not a native English speaker). I get to now live in Ireland, a country that has given me so much so I can grow. I’m surrounded by people who, in one way or another, lift me up and encourage me to pursue my better self.

And now that that’s out of the way… Let me tell you — in a condensed version — how I ended up having a writing career.

My formal education

First things first, you should know that I wanted to be a writer and a journalist since very early age, probably while I was still in primary school and I hadn’t yet entered even my teen years.

I got into gymnasium, learned three languages, got into the journalism college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in TV journalism and a master’s in journalism. I was over the moon about it.

I tried getting jobs in journalism, but they all required more experience than I had, even though I had some time in multiple TV and radio stations under my belt.

During my studies, I worked at a telecommunications company as a salesperson, through a student-type arrangement. That certainly didn’t help in my search for a journalism job.

My early corporate jobs

After I’ve finished my classes but still had to finish my thesis, I’ve moved to Dublin with my husband (then boyfriend). It was originally a 6-month plan (we’re now nearing our 4th year here — go figure).

Because of what seemed like a short-term plan, I just wanted to get any job. So I ended up in telecommunications retail for a couple of months. After that, I got a job as a salesperson in the headquarters of a humongous telecommunications provider, and it seemed like I’ve accomplished SO MUCH by doing that. (Silly me.)

Several months later, I’ve lost that job, and I walked out of that building completely lost, clueless, choking in tears and empty inside.

We had just decided to stay in Dublin a while longer, and that day literally took the reason for me to stay here away.

So now what?

My time of struggle and my silenced creativity

Two years ago, almost to the day, this is where I was. Out of the job that I didn’t enjoy, not sure what I’m really doing in a foreign country, and not sure what I want to do with my life.

I kind of knew I wanted to write — and my husband kept encouraging me to pursue it — but all the writing jobs (and even content marketing jobs) that I kept coming across required much more experience than I could prove. In this process, I fell in love with the idea behind content marketing and writing with purpose, so I kept learning about it.

So I kept sending my applications, and when I wasn’t doing that, I networked and kept on meeting some remarkable people that way. And guess what? There were people who realized I had a journalism background and gave me some freelance writing gigs.

It was awesome!

It wasn’t enough to keep me going financially, though, and my job hunt went on. Eventually, I got a job in a large and well-known education company that covered several digital marketing areas, and I was a part of a team that planned and produced these courses.

It was a brilliant opportunity for me to learn SO much and work with some incredible people. A huge thing I’m grateful for.

BUT… Over time, I realized I spent most of my time researching and writing about digital marketing instead of practicing it. So my side-gig pursue kicked off again, and the creativity I didn’t get in my job, I fulfilled that way.

I spent 18 months in that job, until it got to a point when I knew I’m going to regret not investing all of my time in my passion.

So I quit!

My desire to learn (and never stop)

During all that time, I never stopped upgrading my skills and chasing my better self. I read and wrote constantly. I wrote for free. I wrote for not-so-great rates. I wrote on my travel blog. I tested and researched strategies so I could make myself a better content marketer and writer.

I invested money in some brilliant courses, resources, and conferences. I asked people who were ahead of me for a chat. I sometimes spent all evenings and entire weekends on something that never gave me immediate results.

But you know what? In those two years, I turned into a person I never thought I would — I developed confidence and guts that were completely unknown to me not that long ago.

And when I left my job earlier this year, I replaced the corporate salary I had with the freelance income entirely (and went over it) in the matter of weeks.

It was all a result of a lot of effort over almost all of these two years, and for much of it, I felt clueless and had no idea if any of it will pay off. But I kept at it.

Trust me — hard work always pays off.

When I published my most recent article here on Medium, so many of you reached out to me telling me you feel the same. Now that you have a bit more of my context, I want to hear from you again — let me know where you are on your path to an independent writer!

Hugs,

Marijana