How I left my career to be a full-time freelance writer (and how you can too). From videography to writing, I go through the vast amount of options to becoming a freelancer. Learn how to leave the nine to five!
This post may contain affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more.
Knowing when to quit your job to pursue your own dream as a business owner is a serious question. So much so, that it needs to be answered by a person who already has quit their job to pursue a business.
I fit the bill.
However, it's important to keep in mind that these are only my opinions (based on experience) and you are responsible for making your own decision based on your own situations.
With that said, I'm excited to share my experience with you.
A year ago, I wrote this article about how I quit my job to pursue my dreams.
It's been over a year now and I haven't gone back to a traditional "9-to-5" job (not that I exactly ever had one). Rather, I've been on the most exhilarating, stressful, and adventurous period of my life: entrepreneurship.
I’ve also been ridiculously lazy at times, unproductive, and procrastinated. I’ve also overworked myself,
It's taken sacrifice, disappointment, and plenty of mistakes to make it here. It hasn't been easy but it's definitely been worth it!
First, let me start by saying there isn't an absolute "right way". There are only recommended paths. Some may be longer and more difficult than others, but with a responsible mindset and a good work ethic, you can end up in the same place: success.
My Business 1 Year Later
My original plans (of making my income solely from blog posts) have deviated to assure I make money in the short term as well.
I’m not alone. This is something that many bloggers to do make ends meet. At the moment, I'm running a media business consisting of numerous different money making entities:
Blogging (my FAVORITE)
When I stay on track with these, I make a nice monthly sum of money. As long as I don’t spend to much time… fishing. If you follow me on social media you know what I mean.
I also somehow have managed to create numerous different websites in numerous different niches and therefore do a lot of unpaid, no return work. I guess you could say I love blogging (or simply playing around with computers) just that much. However, only one project has been the bread winner: this one.
My Nicole Stone site (and brand) took numerous niche changes, improvements, months of marketing. This was quite the investment to make work. But guess what? Now it works.
I recommend you also read about how I made my first 1K blogging right here.
WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO QUIT
Quitting my job has been the most stressful, rewarding, exhilarating, and overwhelming experience of my life. It's not only made me grow but given me freedom I hadn't had before.
For instance, I can now take as many fishing (if you have been getting to know me on here you know I love my fishing) trips as I want. This has been a huge bonus for me but it's also been a bit of an expense.
For example, every day that I choose to fish I'm not getting paid. There is no more "paid leave". Instead I have to make a choice: money or fishing.
That can be quite stressful considering fishing costs money. However, it's a perfect example of the sacrifices business owners have to make, especially in their developing years. I have freedom to do the things I love, but that freedom comes at a literal cost.
This is one of the most important things you need to be aware of before you decide to make the switch: money doesn't earn itself and time definitely equals money.
Other Things to Consider
We all have our dreams and "ideas" of what we think entrepreneurship and working from home looks like. Well, here is where "real life" comes into play.
Nothing happened quite like I thought it would. My goal "A" turned into a different goal "B" then "C" and so forth. Where I started out isn't where I'm at (which is a stressful but a good thing!)
Everything took way longer then I thought it would (like way, way, way longer).
I said I was going to work 60 hours day. Didn't happen.
Going to the gym is no easier now then it was at my old job. Should it be? Sure... but it doesn't work that way.
The online community can be a brutal one. I've made some incredible friends and also have gone through some excruciating criticism, threats, and more. I wasn't mentally ready for it at the time but I eventually had to be.
Rejection became normal.
All of my insecurities had to be left in the dust.
It's true that the "squeaky wheel gets the grease". If you don't go after it than someone else will. If they get it then you don't.
However, for every disappointment there is a much bigger reward. Here are the a few of the many incredible benefits about taking the leap and working for yourself:
I pick my own schedule.
I pick my own clients (if I don't like them I don't work for them).
Building something out of nothing is incredibly rewarding.
I've had time to pursue my other passions, which has led to personal accomplishments (such as guesting on a TV show, being invited to media events, receiving gear deals, etc...).
Receiving enough sleep when I need it (if I'm really not feeling good - I stay in bed until I do).
I learned to me more dependent on what I think of myself then what other people think of me.
Most importantly, I stopped dreading the other five days of the week.
KNOWING WHEN QUITTING IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Now that you know these details, you are still wondering when the right time to quit for you is.
Well here is the thing, there isn't exactly a right or a wrong. In fact, I've heard of bloggers who waited until they vastly exceeded their previous job's income before going full-time. I've also heard of others who decided to quit, sell everything and start with nothing. Both became successful.
However, keep in mind these are both on the extreme sides of the spectrum. Despite this, they still had one thing in common when they quit their "9-to-5": a plan.
When You Have a Plan in Place
Therefore the first step into leaving is to have a plan. You will end up changing your plan but it will at least keep you on track initially. It will also give you ambition, connections, and "mini" goals that will help train yourself to actually work. It will also get you at least started in the right direction.
Most importantly, you can't edit a blank slate. You need a plan to start with first to be able to build upon. If you don't start you can never grow.
A few additional things to consider when plannning:
Are you planning on being a blogger? If so, consider the following:
Have you started your blog? Creating a blog takes money and time.
Have you built up an audience? You don't need thousands of views yet but you need to have an understanding of how to get some.
Do you have affiliate programs or services setup? Applying to programs takes time, and promoting those programs take even more time.
Are you looking to freelance or sell different services? Then be sure to consider the following:
Have you built a website? You will need one of those. It will need to be professional and maintained.
Do you have a portfolio? Start one now. Add your relevant work experience, education, and samples.
Do you have a marketing plan in place: Having a website, copy material, and marketing presence is essential. I recommend starting these well before you even get serious with your job.
WHEN YOU CAN RELY ON YOUR SAVINGS
The next thing you should be considering is your current financial situation. Working for yourself means there is no guaranteed income. This means there are times when there is even NO income at all. Want to take a vacation? Then be ready to lose money from it.
That's why building up a savings is crucial to your success.
Matt and I had paid off some debt and had a years worth of my salary saved up to help support us. Not too mention, he stayed with his job. Having his income still kept us secure. Therefore, I could work on my business, still have a life, and still sleep at night.
Most importantly, I wasn't forced into an employee position when the first setback occurred (of which many occurred).
When You Have Already Made Consistent Money
I highly recommend making some money before making the switch. If you have at least made something, even as little as $500, it can help build your confidence and help you know your limits.
Whether it be from freelancing, blogging, surveys, etc... knowing you can put money in your pocket when you need to is a crucial step into building your confidence and your business.
Consider Alternate Money Making Methods
Even if your goal is to become a full-time blogger, you may not be able to make enough income right away. However, there are many other ways you can make money. This includes:
Virtual assistant work
& so much more. You can read my entire article on ways to earn money online right here.
WHEN IT'S ALL YOU WANT TO WORK ON
You need to love. You will need to be obsessed with your business otherwise you won't work on it. When I mean obsessed, it's what you should be thinking about, learning about, and trying to do no matter how little of time you may have during the work week.
WHEN YOU CAN COME TO TERMS WITH THE RISK
You may not sleep, or live, as comfortably as you once did. Why? Because you will now experience a lot of uncertainty. You won't know exactly when your next pay check will come, you aren't guaranteed pay, and you will certainly risk spending more then you make.
Therefore, it's important to understand the risk and if it's right for you. Some people excel under this stress while others don't.
Here is my advice to you:
Unless you are making a liberal amount of money already, try to diversify your income out of the gate. The easiest way to do this is to offer a service such as freelance writing, social media marketing, consulting, etc...
It's important to know that in the beginning you will most likely need more than one source of income. This will help you not only make sure you are making enough income, but will also provide you with important connections that will benefit your business in many other ways.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
I recommend putting together a plan and a list of goals. Write down your income goals, work hour goals, and savings plan. Then I recommend a way to reward yourself when you reach those goals. This helps you keep yourself accountable and helps you create an employee and employee relationship with yourself.
In summary, it's important to focus on:
A plan: Make a business plan for yourself. Include:
Goals: Write down income goals, productivity goals, and outreach goals.
Rewards: Determine how you will reward yourself when you meet these goals.
Structure: Determine how you will structure your day/weeks/months to meet these goals. It's easy to get side tracked everyday if you don't.
Making a Profit First: Learn how to make a profit before you quit.
Having Money for Security: A generous savings account will make this whole process a lot easier.
Having a Healthy Mindset: Know that this will take risk, time, and dissapointment. You will need to improve yourself, your plan, and your skills overtime to be successful.
To learn more about the ways you can make money, also check out:
Finally believe in yourself. No one can make your own dreams happen but you. Understand the preperation, sacrafice, and effort involved in success.
However, also remember that you will more than likely regret NOT doing it. You have one chance at your own life so make it count.
Below are my FAVORITE resources that I use to run my business.. both blogging and marketing.
- Bluehost: I use Bluehost to host nearly every website I develop. It's reliable, affordable, and customer service is fantastic.
- Convertkit: After Mailerlite's big error (where their users emails were all being marked as spam) I've come to the conclusion that it's hard to beat Convertkit. It's powerful, reliable, and built specifically for bloggers. Click the link for a free trial!
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: Everything you need to know to be successful at making money with affiliates (exactly who inspired me).