Do you need a job? Consider hiring yourself!


Explore the possibility of hiring yourself.
People often think of traditional jobs as secure, but there is only one real reason for this, and it is that the predictable amount of money in a paycheck allows easier budgeting. That is the only security in a conventional job. The current economy just shows something I’ve known for years — conventional jobs where you are chosen to work for an employer are nowhere near as secure as they once seemed.

When your work is not cost effective for the company, you will be laid off. You may be fired over an excuse – most of your permanent record on the job is kept to have some convenient excuses not to pay unemployment- or you can simply be laid off. Either way this will happen if the company is not earning more from what you do by a big proportion.
It’s a stress most people live with all the time just to survive. The predictability of a paycheck is enough to make most people hang onto jobs that aren’t cost effective for them, long after the point where they can stand it. For a spoonie, the combination of stress, low pay and bad working conditions can be devastating. It can leave you without the resources to look for something better.
Yet these assumptions are all based on some other things people take for granted. If anyone thinks of becoming self employed, they get called a “dreamer” and discouraged, it’s believed to be harder. It’s not — if you have the right attitude to begin with, it can be physically a whole lot easier for a spoonie to become self employed. Especially if you work at home, it can be the difference between whether you’re self supporting or not.
My goal in 2009 is to become self supporting again. That simple. That basic. It’ll carry over into 2010 if I don’t succeed in this by the end of the year. I put no timetable on this, but it is my first major goal at this moment.
This article is the first in a series I’m doing on self employment opportunities — especially online, but also some offline possibilities that may be more feasible for you than me, depending on your spoons, your physical abilities, your skills and your context. Where you live may affect what opportunities are cost effective or not.
I use this term, cost-effective, because I am the boss. I have been my own boss since 1990, when I was laid off from a typesetting job only a month after I got it, in an exhausting, miserable job search. I was making a third of what I did previously, barely over minimum wage, and the working conditions went from feasible to unbelievably stressful and physically difficult. Then the company started laying people off left and right, preparing for bankruptcy.
I was in a trial period of 90 days and easy to get rid of.
I was angry about having to go out looking for work again, after I’d just done that for three gruelling weeks of cold calling printers, looking for typesetting jobs and going to half a dozen interviews before one panned out. That night I sat down to work on some sketch or other, trying to get my mind off the problem when it hit me. I’d wanted to be self employed all along. My expenses alone would be a whole lot lower. Why was I looking for work? My art was good, why didn’t I just give that a try?
I decided to.
“I’m not unemployed, I’m self employed.” I said it aloud. I wrote it in my journal. I made the decision and have never regretted it in my life.
That started the best years of my life, the years when I was a street artist in New Orleans. I had more spending money than I did as a budget-crazed typesetter in Chicago, because I got more out of what I did have and didn’t waste any of it on things I didn’t want or need. I had no credit cards or extra bills adding to bare-survival costs. I put most of what I earned back into the business in art supplies and overhead, enjoyed the spending as much as I had when I was just working a job, and lived at my pace.
My health eventually failed to the point I could not do anything any more. Another long story, but I’m pulling out of that. My surgery in 2005 was successful and I’ve had three years of recovery to begin getting back some of the strength I had in 1990.
Last year, 2008, I started looking into becoming self supporting again. I didn’t even consider working for other people. I can’t predict which days I’m going to be able to get up early and which ones I’m not. I have bitter memories of the Pain Robot years when I got out of bed, whether I could or not, got to work and did my work semiconscious by rote, and had no life.
There is a way to gain real security as opposed to the apparent security of a regular paycheck, a way to make that illusion something more solid. This is to plan your budget carefully and begin amassing some savings. Hold back some, not all but some of your spending money and put it away for later. Start building up from living month to month, to where you are a month ahead of yourself. Then two months. Then more.
Then figure out what your necessities are and what your comfort level for spending money is. It’s essential to have some. If you are working a regular job, you have an income that may actually be much higher than your necessities and the process of preparing for self employment is a matter of investment.
I landed in the deep end by accident and only then discovered that self employment is easier for a spoonie. I gained the better part of a decade of living well — better than I had with any job — before my health caught up to me big time. In retrospect, the biggest problem I had then was denial of the depth of my disabilities.
I’d been turned down for Social Security because my back trouble wasn’t bad enough to get it. So I believed them that I was capable of working a regular job or putting that much physical work into self employment. How many other spoonies dragged through life during bad times believing the people who said it was all in your head? Half my disabilities weren’t even discovered in those years.
This underlines the most important thing you need to do to become successful in self employment. Be honest with yourself about what you can do and what your resources are. Don’t underestimate them or overestimate them. Just be real with yourself and the world.
We have resources today that I didn’t have in 1990. If I had been online, I would have discovered eBay a lot sooner and cut my transportation expenses — UPS and FedEx come to your door for pickup. So does the postal service. I’ve known many full time eBayers, artists, craftspeople and scavengers.
Recent changes at eBay have hurt the market there, but it is still a viable option for some sellers to build up a livelihood. I currently use it mostly as a social network, as the changes hit artists hard. It’s not cost effective for me to make it my primary focus. I will profile eBay in a later article and give some tips on how to get started and how to keep it cost effective.
What I’m doing in 2009 is focusing on my website which may in and of itself become full time self employment. It has many possibilities — AdSense income (those Google ads you see on almost everything), affiliate links to art supply companies, art sales, the art instruction book that I will eventually compile from the site articles and possibly commissions from featuring other artists on the site.
I’m going after this like a cat who’s got the mouse’s tail between his teeth, because I do. I’ve been getting 20-30 visitors a day before the site is complete! Writing is my main goal in life, always has been. One reason I could not pour 100% of my energy into an art career was that it interfered too much with my writing time. Writing about art is just fun, it’s something I look forward to every day now.
Self employment is trial and error. This first article is about attitude, the most important thing to success in self employment. Every path to self employment, every single thing you try, is trial and error. I did not fail in New Orleans. Some markets failed. My health failed.
I succeeded because I lived on those things while I was riding high and was able to change directions when the bottom dropped out of the art market, the street art market closed down for the summers. My gigs stopped being Cost Effective. The amount of work and time I had to put into them to get enough money out to live on wasn’t enough to keep me alive and building more resources toward full time writing.
Trials fail. I don’t fail. I am not a Failure. I am a success because every time I’ve picked up any self employment possibility, I’ve put in enough to make it work long enough to tell if it was cost effective. One of the deepest, most important things to remember is that cost effective is not just about money.
It’s about happiness, pride, enjoying what you do and whether you are making yourself miserable in order to succeed in getting enough money to survive. Survival is not enough. At many points in New Orleans , I could have taken up certain art styles that don’t take much time or physical effort and are very popular — but I don’t like them and wouldn’t buy any art in those styles. They would have brought me high prices in galleries that asked me to try them.
They also would have sickened me and left me hating art, if I kept it up too long.
It’s no good starting down a bad path and wasting your energy. Explore the ones that look like the most fun and satisfaction first, because fun and satisfaction start to pay off on the very first day you do them.
Intangibles are worth a fortune in self employment.
When you are genuinely happy, in love with what you are doing and thrilled to be out there doing it, that is contagious. That is what your customers will see and it makes them smile. That’s what they bring home with them as a warm good feeling when they are patrons of the arts or good people who shop at little businesses run by nice people they like. It’s not charity. It’s a different glow, a little more like performance and a lot more like sharing excitement.
So begin with a brainstorm. Put “Self Employment” in the center of a page and then branch out in all the directions that you might be able to make a living at. Write down anything, whether it looks sensible or crazy. On each line write down its benefits, its potential income and what you need to do to get started.
Rate each branch for how much you think you would enjoy it. How you’d feel about “wearing the hat.” If you were introduced as “an artist who makes jewelry” at parties, how would that feel?
We only get one life each, so spend it doing what’s truest to your heart.
Article submitted by: Robert A. Sloan, © 2009

  • Linda Spradlin

    If you are havig trouble getting qualified for SS Disability abd you feel you should qualify, contact Binder and Binder. They got my claim through in a few short months after 6 years of trying with other attornies!

    For finding work at home, take a look at and You will find hundreds of jobs available for people to complete at home!!

  • Mary Schreifels

    Great article! Working from home and self employment are a growing trend in today’s society. I am always researching and learning new possiblities! My son has several disabilities and my focus is on finding what works so when he is ready to work I can teach him to work for himself!

    Have a BEAUTIFUL day!

  • I love this article. Many just need to dare to believe and gun for their life purpose . That what will give them the satisfaction for working instead of the illusion of security of paid job.I love your courage,it is inspiring. I am also believing for your realisation of healing power in Christ Jesus .

  • ConnieK

    Here in Metro Vancouver, there are programs offered through the federal government and taught at local colleges which give people the training and support to start up and run their own businesses. One of my best friends has gone through this program and has been running his own, very successful business for the past 4 or 5 years.
    Not everyone is able to do this, though. Statistics show that about 80% of businesses fail within the first 5 years after start-up. That being said, it is a very good idea to think of a job search as an actual paying job – you get out of it what you put into it. Work at it 30-40 hours a week and you are much more likely to find a job much sooner and which meets your needs. In this period of economic downturn, it will be more difficult, which is why persistence and hard work are necessary to be successful in one’s job search.

  • Pam Richard

    Thanks for bringing up the self-employment option for women who have a chronic illness. No longer is “corporate america” secure.(not that it ever was) I have been self-employed since 1994, when I was diagnosed with Lupus nephritis. Since then I have had 2 children, put my husband through school, dealt with managing my mothers breast cancer and eventual death, been on dialysis, and had a kidney transplant 2 years ago. All while supporting my family through self-employment. Now don’t let me kid you, it has not been easy. It requires continual learning and adaptation. But it’s worth it. My work is incororated into my life. I am always working, but on my terms.

  • Becky

    Great inspiration, Christine!

  • Stacey

    This article hit home for me. I agree with everything you have said.
    After trying to keep working thru illness, I finally was forced to quit in 2002. Since then I have done several things from home such as data entry, worked on computers, and received faxes for a friends trucking business. These tasks have been much more fulfilling than anything I did outside the home that paid big bucks.
    I have decided that if I were ever able to work again it would be self-employment doing something for myself that doesn’t stress me out. Working on MY timetable rather than someone else’s.
    Once you learn to live within your means and limitations life can be really wonderful!