The Day I Left the Day Job

All my life I worked in the newspaper industry. As a kid, I delivered a weekly shopper paper, then typed the classified ads and finally became trained as a graphic artist. I later went to school for art. From there I became an art director at a Catholic weekly paper. It was one of my favorite jobs. I got to be creative and worked my own hours with a key to the building. I only had to meet a weekly deadline. I used to love going in early mornings and leaving by 3 pm.

At that time, I had applied for a job at the biggest local newspaper and oldest paper in the country for a graphic arts job. I interviewed and learned later I came in 2nd out of 75 applicants. I was heartbroken that I didn’t get the job and asked why when I called. The art director there told me I needed daily newspaper experience.

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The oldest daily newspaper

The following month a photographer from a daily paper in Pawtucket came to our office at the Catholic newspaper. I remember asking him about jobs there. He told me someone was retiring. By January 1st of that year, I had a new job. I thought it was graphics, but it was an old composing department. I was quickly bored. When a sales job opened, I thought why not? They made more money and I could sell what I knew how to make I thought.

Before long I was an inside sales rep making more money. I enjoyed it and meet many new people. After a few years my manager there left to go the newspaper I so longed to work for. He was my mentor and I knew I had to try to get there not as a graphic artist but as a salesperson.

It took me until my late 20’s to get that dream job, working at the oldest continuous newspaper in the country. I had 9 rejection letters from them when I finally did get the job. I don’t give up easily!

I loved the new job! I looked forward to going to work, meeting new clients, making friends with co-workers and hitting my goals to make more money. I quickly went from inside sales to outside sales at the top-level pay. Then the internet came along. I jumped to the bandwagon there and began selling digital ads.

During my time on the digital team I had attended a lot of training sessions locally and across the country. I learned as much as I could. At the same time, I had begun to build an online website selling medical scrubs. It was around that time I started using social media. Later I was on the social media committee at the paper and trained the newsroom staff on how to use Twitter.

I spent countless hours learning all about SEO, SEM, social media and digital marketing. I knew I wanted to be able to have a business I could run from home. The newspaper industry slowly was starting to slide. It was around the time of the 9/11 that things started to tumble.

Layoffs started to hit our industry and became a yearly event. I survived at least a dozen and went almost a decade with no raise. Commissions were becoming less and less. The stress of the job was becoming more and more. I really did love the job there for about 20 of the 25 years I was there.

I then had been interviewing at various jobs and working my blog countless hours. My Inspire to Thrive was incorporated that year so it could be a legitimate business. I was asked by my former digital manager to join him at another smaller paper across our state line in MA. I accepted so I could get out of the stressful job. I still knew the business of blogging and consulting is where I was going eventually.

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A business was formed!

The job at the smaller paper was a fun job, but the travel was getting to me. I was building my business before and after work, weekends, and during lunch hour. Rumors began our newspaper was being sold to a bigger company. (That sounded too familiar!) I knew it was time to make a move. I started checking into health insurance and then a local business that had asked me to do consulting. They asked when I was going to go full time with my business. I predicted by the year's end.

My biggest fear was losing health care. But once I inquired on rates I learned it didn’t cost as much as I had thought since the company I worked for charged so much for it. Never assume!

Then on August 1st we were told the new owners were in and wanted to talk to us. I’ve heard it all before and knew where it was going from that talk. I was ready. The next day I went in and handed in my resignation letter. I didn’t even give a 2-week notice. That was very unlike my old self. I knew it was time to make the leap and not look back.

I felt relieved. The timing was right and everything I had done prior had led up to what I now do. Managing social media takes graphic art skills to create the posts you need to share, marketing, of course, is what it’s all about and the discipline to schedule posts is key.

Now that it has been a few months I say, “social media management is like housework — it’s never done.” You must learn to pace yourself. Working from home there are days I work only 6 hours and other days I worked 18 hours. I don’t recommend the 18-hour day! And then there is the time I spend keeping up on the industry as it is always changing. I save time on Fridays for learning new things and training.

I remember a piece the great Sam Hurley wrote on LinkedIn about burning yourself out. It can happen when you work for yourself and you must be careful not to let it happen. I try to take daily walks to get away from the computer. You need to take breaks to be creative and make good decisions.

Many people tell me how scared they are of leaving their jobs. They do not like what they do or are unhappy to go to work. I tell them “life is too short, do what you love, and the money will follow.” Inquire about what it is you love to do, find a way to build a business around it. You may have to work for somebody else first to learn more. Don’t give up and go for it. You don’t want to have regrets later, life really is too short.

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Lisa runs her own business helping clients with content marketing, blogging, and social media. 25+ years of experience.

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