Recently in an interview I was asked, “When did working for yourself become worth it?”
I had to consider two different answers from two different points of view.
I liked this question because it brings two answers to mind — the monetary reasons and the bigger reasons.
When I think about whether what I’m doing for work is worth it, I think about both. I’d like to think about it like a venn diagram with two circles; where they overlap is the sweet spot.
In the first circle, I ask myself questions like: Am I able to live the life I want? Pay my rent? Go out to eat? Treat myself and others? Give to charity? I started out setting the bar low — could I take care of myself financially? Later, I learned that I could do that and much, much more, even giving thousands of dollars this year to charity.
And in the second circle: Am I able to connect people and build community? To give people a platform to explore our common interests, to learn and grow together? To affect people in a positive way that may radiate out in other positive outcomes in the world? To reach more people in a scaleable way? At first I was worried about getting enough students to connect with me, then my mindset shifted to helping my audience connect with each other too. It’s much more powerful this way when you can bring people together on a larger scale over a common belief or interest.
With video creation and social media, I’ve been able to not only provide an income for myself, I have been able to create a positive community that’s much bigger than I ever imagined.
A lot of people ask me how long it took me to be able to support myself working online for myself. I worked about 4 years before being able to match my teacher’s salary with my online work and leave my job. That meant a lot to me because I could do that while having complete creative control over my work, and the ability to work when and where I wanted.
It took about 4 years to get to 100,000 subscribers on the Go Natural English YouTube channel and tens of thousands of followers on Facebook. I mention these numbers because it gives an idea of the size of the community. The paid community was smaller of course, but with hundreds of paying students, we were able to connect students from all over the world to practice together.
Here’s a short video where I talk a little about what makes it worth it to me to work for myself. I got a little emotional and tongue tied at the end.