I Left My Banking Job To Be A Freelancer

In 2016, I had been working as a corporate banker for about 7 years. The company I worked for treated me well. I was often rewarded with generous bonuses and company trips. I worked hard to be in that position. 

But after 7 years of the office grind, I was tired of dreading Mondays. I hated walking into the office in a cheerful mood, ready to tackle the day, only for my positive disposition to be brought back to earth by high-strung clients, stressed colleagues and an unforgiving amount of paperwork. 

Dealing with Mr Negative

I had a senior colleague whom I often supported in high-profile cases. I named him Mr Negative as he constantly complained about everything and everyone. He seemed to be in a perpetual state of irritation, like the whole world was against him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ignore him as I had to work quite closely with him and also, he sat right in front of me!

Sometimes, I would try to cajole him out of his bad mood. One day, I ended up confessing that I would love to work remotely. To be able to wake up and work from anywhere in the world would be a dream come true.

Also read:

I Gave Up Law & Finance in Singapore To Teach Kids of Poverty Overseas

“Follow your passion and you will be poor” 

Mr Negative laughed and asked me what my passion was; I hadn’t figured it out but I told him I love writing and helping people. He laughed and said, “The trouble with you is, you are a dreamer. And one day you are going to wake up and realise you can’t make real money following your passion. Remote jobs are a scam, something work-at-home mums fiddle with while they are on maternity leave. Trust me on this, stick with banking and you will retire rich.” 

His words stung and popped my little balloon of hope. He was a well-respected banker, making loads of money. I know this as he often boasted about his comfortable salary and hefty bonuses. 

Nevertheless, a little seed of hope in my heart continued to grow. During lunch breaks and in the evenings, I would watch YouTube videos of people working remotely. These were the people I wanted to be one day, working in any country of their choice from month to month.

Starting out as a freelancer

banker to freelancer aishaMy hiking backpack with my little laptop in it

I ended up finding an editing job through a Facebook group. The pay was low but it was my first opportunity to make money remotely. I worked on it in the evenings and weekends. More and more editing projects came in. I increased my rate and it felt so motivating to see money being deposited into my account from my efforts. 

During my annual leave, I decided to climb up Everest Base Camp, but as I was boarding the plane, a writing and an editing job came in. I took the jobs and told myself that if I could work remotely while climbing, I could make a real career out of following my passion. Every day after grueling hours of hiking, I would start working on the projects on my laptop. After I reached the summit of Everest Base Camp, I submitted both projects and they paid for my entire trip. 

Leaving banking for freelancing

I decided to give remote working a real go. Although I was terrified, I quit my job, set up a website and started pitching for projects. More and more jobs came in and eventually, an opportunity to coach and help others came up. A lady emailed me asking how she could get started as a freelancer, and another guy messaged me for help on becoming an online teacher. 

I also started getting more freelance writing clients. Some paid really well and some paid below average but I enjoyed working with them, so I didn’t mind the lower compensation. My coaching clients started seeing results and I received testimonials and referrals for more work. 

The Result Of Following My Passion

banker to freelancer

I now make a decent income from writing, coaching and from my personal finance website. It’s a dream come true. A few months ago, I hit a personal benchmark, which was to earn more than I did as a corporate banker. I now make much more than Mr Negative did, doing what I love! 

Following your passion can be daunting and risky. But I learned that there are ways to mitigate the risk by making a careful plan, a budget, and deadlines that you need to hold yourself accountable to. You need to treat yourself like a business. If you treat your passion like a hobby, it will always be a hobby, and it will not make any money.

If I could advise my younger self, I would say take advice from people you want to be. People who inspire you and understand your passion. The wrong person will set you on the wrong path. The right person will push and propel you to achieve your dreams. 

Also read:

Working Remotely: How To Transition From Your Corporate Job And Work From Anywhere