Should You Quit Your Job And Go Full Time Indie?
I want to talk about something I get asked about a lot. And that’s whether or not people should go full-time indie and quit their job. Now, obviously this question is going to have different answers from different people, it really depends on who you are. But here’s what I have to say: I have been an independent developer for a very long time. I have been a freelance developer for a long time. I’ve done a lot of stuff. I’ve started a lot of different businesses, but I’ve always been very entrepreneurial minded.
When I was 18, I got an opportunity from a company to do their web development. It was a property development company and they were offering to give me a place to stay in exchange for my help with their web site. I visited the place with a suitcase, and so I just moved in. I was like, “Yep let’s do it!” That’s who I am. I’m an entrepreneurial type of person and so I would take risks. It’s something that, I think, has to be ingrained in you in order for you to take leaps like that.
I’d just like clarify something here. I’ve only had one job in my entire life, and that was at Circuit City when I was 16. I lasted for about two months before I quit. And even though they hired me for a season, I quit before Christmas. I just want people to understand where this advice is coming from. I’m not a dude that quit my job and went full-time indie— that didn’t happen because there never was a job to quit.
So when people asked me this question, I feel that I’m probably not qualified to answer it. But people keep asking anyway and they want my advice. They want my opinion because apparently they think I’m some kind of dude that knows stuff. I’m really just a dude that makes YouTube videos.
Here’s what I would say: If you are at a job and you are working on a game on the side, I think you should not quit your job. I’m saying that because games are a special kind of product. And from my marketing experience, I can tell you that marketing a game is a little more complicated than marketing a product. If I was marketing a supplement, I would emphasize that supplements are beneficial to your health. I’d say, “Ok, this helps you grow muscles, this helps you do whatever.” If I was trying to sell you a car, I’d say, “Hey, this car helps you get from point A to point B, it’ll help move you to locations, it will help you get a job, or go grocery store or whatever.”
Products have benefits. Games have emotional benefits. The benefit of every game is the same, which means that technically, every game is competing with each other. So for you to quit your job on a business opportunity based on a game that you’re not sure has a product yet, is a bad business move. Secondly, from a financial perspective, it makes more sense to continue doing what you can with your time to generate income and pay your bills and work on the game on the side. And then once your income from the game business starts to take over your income from your job, then you quit. That makes more sense. That’s the safe route.
Now, I was always the opposite of that. I was always the dude that would just dive in when I wanted to create something. I learned over time as I started working with people and learning stuff that entrepreneurship is hard. Working for yourself is hard. Even doing something like freelance is not as easy as it seems. Client getting is the number one thing that you need to learn how to do, and that’s more important than your quality of work. It’s more important than any other skill that you may have. The ability to get clients is the most important part of building a business whatsoever. And you need to understand that especially when making a game. You realize that your ability to get customers for that game is more important than the game itself.
Sometimes the game itself helps get customers because the best marketing is a great game, but you have to understand that. If you don’t have any experience with that, you can make a lot of mistakes, and you can fail a lot with your games and your projects while you have a job. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no negative stigma to that. No one’s going to hold it against you.
Now to those people that are ready to jump in—they’re ready to quit their job and just DO IT! They like the thrill of the desperation, and making shit happen. If you believe that’s you, I think you should go for it.
But there are very few people that are wired like that. For me personally, I struggled with finances for a long time because whenever I had money in the bank, I would get complacent, I would get comfortable, and then I wouldn’t really feel the need to work hard, and get clients, and make sales on my software or whatever I was selling, or whatever I was doing. What motivated me, what would light a fire under my ass every time—was having something due. Not having enough to pay for the rent, or a car, or just like, “Shit! I’m broke! I need to eat.” That kind of stuff always got me wired or got me going.
So for people that are wired like me, if that desperation mode activates you, maybe quitting your job could be the kick in the pants you need to actually finish the shit, get the shit out there, and learn everything you need to know. MAYBE. Again, I would say the smartest route is probably, don’t quit your day job.
I mean think about it. If you have a safe income and all your bills are paid:
- You don’t have to worry about finances.
- You don’t have to worry about the deep internal struggles of entrepreneurship and the ups and downs of it.
- You don’t have to worry about the things that cause major anxiety in a lot of people that take these risks.
You can avoid all that by just working at your job, doing your stuff, and working on the game on the side. But you have to be disciplined and consistent at it. You need to work on it every night when you get home, whether you feel like it or not. So I would say don’t quit your day job. I don’t think it’s a smart business move. If you know better about yourself than I do (which is probably the case) and you think that you can pull it off because desperation activates you and it makes you turn into a superhuman like me, go for it! I think you can pull it off. I believe in you a hundred percent. Tweet me if you do because I want to follow your journey.
Some of the best games I’ve made have been when I have a stable source of income and I think money in the bank really helps your clarity. It helps you to be more creative because you don’t have to worry about bills and stuff.
So that’s all I really have to say on the subject. I hope it helped out, if you’re thinking about quitting your job. Leave me a comment below because I would love to hear from you.