A lot of switch-to-freelancing advice goes like this: “Stay at your nine-to-five job, because at least then you have a paycheck coming in.” Or, “Work during your night and weekend hours to build up a freelance business, and only make the switch when you have your full-time income replaced with your freelance business income.”
Right. I don’t know about you, but balancing multiple jobs is too much. Working a full-time job and then creating another full-time job on top of that was way more than my brain could handle.
I’m the kind of person who puts a lot of mental effort in when I work, and that was especially true in my last “traditional” job position. I had a leadership role where I was responsible for a lot, so by the time I got home at the end of the day, my brain was fried and ready for a break. I remember one time I had a freelance blogging assignment, and it took me two months to write one blog post. At that point, I knew building up a freelance business while working full time wouldn’t be a possibility for me.
So I Quit — Without a Safety Net
I had enough money to get me through a few months, and I knew I’d learned enough in my full-time gig to land some great freelance jobs. I quit because I was tired of my job, and was ready for the freedom.
I didn’t quit without a plan, but I did quit without having my income fully replaced. Why? Because if I waited until that happened, I’d still be sitting behind that same desk, working the same hours and over-using my yearly sick and vacation days in the first six months of the year.
Prepare for the Plunge
So if you’re that kind of person — the one who hates balancing multiple jobs and wants to make the jump to freelancing, but just can’t manage continuing to work after a long day — here’s what I’d suggest:
- Cut your spending and save like crazy so you have at least three months’ worth of expenses covered while you ramp up your freelancing.
- On the weekends while you’re still working full-time, do low-stress research into your target market to find out what kind of contractors they hire and what they pay them.
- Put together a step-by-step marketing plan to acquire your first 10 customers. Make sure it’s one you’ll be able to execute on in your first two or three weeks after quitting your full-time job.
- If you’ve never worked for yourself before, consider taking an online course in your free time that teaches you how to market yourself and book clients. This knowledge will be invaluable once you set out on your own.
- Decide what your daily and hourly schedule will be for your first two months after you quit your job, and stick to it.
Tempted to Just Make the Jump?
If you are, you’re in good company. A lot of people have done it and been successful. But, to be honest with you, I haven’t met anyone who’s done it successfully that made the jump without a plan. The plan is crucial.
If you have savings, you don’t need to follow the traditional advice of replacing your income before your quit for your freedom. If you don’t have a plan to get clients and income, you’ll hemorrhage your savings until you reach the make-or-break point that forces most people back into full-time employment. Balancing multiple jobs isn’t for everyone — and if you’re looking to jump into freelancing, it’s hardly a prerequisite for the prepared.