A few weeks ago I was approached with a job offer. I turned it down. That's not to say I didn't need the work. Money was very tight and there was no income in sight. I had maybe a hundred dollars in the bank and I needed every job I could get.
In fact, I had been browsing the "gigs" section of CraigsList to see if there were any easy manual labor jobs that I could do. I'd even thought of applying at Starbucks or the grocery store.
Sure, working a "normal job" wouldn't be interesting or challenging, but it would give me a consistent income and allow me to continue working towards my real income goals (to earn a simple living through my writing).
Since quitting my job almost two years ago, I've been using my technology skills to earn income through accepting any freelance work that comes my way. While the work is generally easy and pays very well, it is in no way consistent.
And that's no surprise because I've been relying entirely on word-of-mouth referrals. I refuse to market my services because that's not the direction I want to invest my time. I want to earn a living through my writing, not through my tech skills.
So when a client asked to hire me on a monthly retainer basis, it sounded like a good fit. The work was relatively straight-forward and it would give me a regular income.
But there was a catch: The client worked for a global network of non-profit organizations whose mission was the opposition of civilian militarization.
In a Skype call the client warned me I might be watched and questioned by the FBI. I would be helping manage the organization's servers and if I was pressured by the government, the organization needed to know that I was "on their side".
On their side? I don't pick sides.
But I needed this job.
What if I did some quick introspection and picked a side so I could get this job and return to focusing on my writing? What if I quickly figured out what my beliefs were and dealt with the repercussions later?
These thoughts felt wrong. They felt alien, like little monsters quietly being directed by a greedy overlord. I knew that intelligent decisions were never made by greed, so I put off making a decision to distance myself from the whole situation for at least a day.
During this time, a friend stepped in and reminded me that I don't compromise my values for anything. She knew me as that person. She knew me as someone who doesn't bend their values just because the circumstances call for it. And she was right.
That was the reminder I needed to gain clarity.
I emailed the client and politely turned down his offer. I wouldn't compromise. I'd rather live homeless on the street than bend my values to greed. If I was meant to have money, the universe would find another way.
So I turned my focus back to making a living with my writing. I knew it wasn't realistic to expect overnight success once I put out an offering, but I had to get started. I had to keep moving forward.
I had my first offer in mind, a monthly subscription to my Journal, and I just needed to work out the technical details.
Instead of outsourcing the distribution of my writing to services like Letter.ly or MailChimp, I wanted to publish everything on my site and simply hide it from the public until I decided to release it (as part of my income ethics, I'm releasing all paid-work within one year of its publication).
I also wanted to keep the entire payment process on my site and leave room for growth when I start offering other products.
I looked around the web for a WordPress plugin that I could use and after a bit of searching, I found a plugin called s2Member, provided by a company called WebSharks.
The free version had everything I needed to get started and the Pro version, which cost $69, had all the features that would allow me to grow with my paid offerings.
Community involvement is a big thing that I look for when choosing software. I like to know that lots of people are using the software and that any future bugs will be addressed. The s2Member community forum was very active, so I registered for a free account.
A note on the registration page caught my eye: Help out on the forum and you may be selected to receive a coupon for a free copy of the Pro version.
Since money was tight, this sounded like an excellent opportunity. Many of the questions on the forum were related to WordPress and I was fully capable of answering them. So over the next few days (in between setting up and learning s2Member for my own site) I answered a dozen or so questions on the forum.
A few days later I received an email from the lead support guy at WebSharks, Inc.
He wanted to know if I was interested in being hired to help out on the forums. No commitments and no minimum hours; just do my best to learn s2Member (which I was doing anyway) and spend some time helping out on the forums (which I was also doing).
WebSharks would pay me a weekly salary and I would receive a free copy of the Pro version of s2Member.
I accepted! After signing an NDA and faxing over a W9, I was hired.
For the first time in two years, I have a regular income again. Not only is it regular, it's an income that allows me to work wherever and whenever I want while also learning a piece of software that will help me move forward with my own business goals.
The small team at WebSharks is friendly and lead developer shares many of my values.
I couldn't have asked for a better fit. In fact, I couldn't even imagine a better fit. Had I taken that first job a few weeks ago -- had I compromised my values and bent to monstrous will of greed -- perhaps the universe wouldn't have offered this to me.
Instead of settling for something that would've been good enough, I chose to continue climbing towards something better, towards the path that I knew my heart was set on following.
I had no idea how I would continue on that path with no income, but when I put my trust in the universe, it presented me with exactly what I needed, when I needed it.