The shift from a stable full-time job to freelance is undoubtedly challenging. However, shifting from a laboratory scientist and supervisor in a hospital to a freelance web designer is difficult and stressful. Often people in similar situations where they have a stable and noble job in a hospital where they aid the helpless and suddenly decide to change careers face various judgments.
Some may say that starting freelance is risky, and others will try to convince you not to do it because every job becomes monotonous over time, but you have two choices: either settle for the job you know you’re overqualified for or that it’s not as purposeful as it sounds, or make your own way to the absolute career independence. No matter what your choice is, it will be a hard one.
While many would wait for the perfect timing to shift to freelance, Jamie from Jamie Richelle Designs decided to quit her job as a laboratory scientist and supervisor in a hospital in the middle of the pandemic while having small children at home. And, no. She didn’t make a wrong decision. Quite the contrary, it was THE decision of a lifetime. After filing the resignation note, she dedicated herself to her plans and mission in life and owned her business.
In this interview, she shares her freelancing journey and how she finally works for the job she really loves and pays according to her qualifications. But before we get to the money, and all other credentials, let’s get back to the beginning and see what led Jamie to start her business as a freelancer.
Q: Please tell us about yourself, your expertise, etc
A: Hi, I’m Jamie, owner of Jamie Richelle Designs. I specialize in brand strategy and website design for businesses that support pregnant and postpartum people.
Q: Please describe your previous work as an employee
A: I work primarily with doulas, midwives, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and really anyone who supports growing families, babies, and parents. I support a very niche group and it’s really allowed me to gain a reputation as an expert in this field in the 2 years since I launched my business.
Q: What was the point where you decided to become a freelancer?
A: In 2018 while pregnant with my first baby I knew I needed to change directions for my family and for myself. I’m a highly sensitive person and autistic and working in a healthcare setting is very overstimulating and draining of my energy. After floundering around feeling unsure of what I should do, I finally decided to pursue web design after teaching myself on the side for several years. I launched my business right in the heart of the pandemic in July 2020 while I was also still working full-time as a supervisor at a 600+ bed hospital. I managed a team of 65 staff and worked on the frontlines until a year later (July 2021) when I resigned and took my freelance business full-time.
Many people find it surprising how I could translate my scientific training and background into design and websites, but it felt very natural for me. I’ve always had an affinity to design and many of the skills I needed for my laboratory career I use with my freelance work. Working as a laboratory scientist and supervisor required incredible attention to detail so as not to cause patient harm and strong interpersonal skills that are necessary to effectively manage a large and diverse team.
Design requires strong attention to detail and working with clients to create visuals that are beautiful and functional also requires me to effectively communicate with them. Working in a lab setting that required me to pay close attention or risk harm to patients and supervising a large team helped me communicate more effectively and really listen to what people need.
Q: What are the challenges you’re facing as a freelancer?
A: Freelancing has changed my family’s quality of life and really allowed me to be a more present and fulfilled parent. It hasn’t come without challenges. The biggest mistake I’ve made is investing in business coaching with the wrong coach and underpricing my services. Being exclusively self-taught I’ve fought with imposter syndrome and in the first year of my business, I really struggled to consistently land clients. I still have seasons that are slower, but the work always comes. I’m currently struggling with ways to get more consistent “passive” income and am planning some new things for 2023. I also anticipate a big increase in my rates to accommodate inflation and my increased skills and positive client outcomes.
Two years post-pandemic, and things are already falling into the right places. Jamie managed to stand out in the market, turn her business into a brand with a target audience, and become a role model for future freelancers. Although the story has a happy ending, Jamie’s road to success wasn’t paved with gold. There were many obstacles along the way; however, she only focused on the final goal. Being a mom and jobless? Start working on your plan of breaking into the market, and do it as quickly as possible! Can’t find clients? Keep digging! Feel disappointed and tricked by the coach? Separate and follow your path! Ultimately, all these decisions lead to one thing – the job you were born for.
Jamie was one of the people who had a decent and secure job at the hospital. However, like many people at the moment, she knew that was not the final goal for her. Being a lab specialist made her pay close attention to details and spot abnormalities, essential traits when you start your own business. Also, when you’re happy with the career you have and when you’re finally doing what you love the most, creative juices start flowing. Jamie showed everyone that a person only survives the market if they have strong faith in their abilities, goals, and worth. Make sure no one convinces you otherwise.