How to Prepare for Freelancing Full Time

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Leaving work behind was a pretty big deal for me a little more than two years ago. Here was my big announcement

It’s been super fun watching others follow in my footsteps after they completed my best-selling course, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. Now, I’m not taking credit for their success – THEY did the hard work, I just provided the road map.

If you’re considering doing the same, read on to find out how these six freelancers did it and how they’re still thriving as a result!

1. Jessica Collins (Fitness copywriter) – “Once the income and referrals started snowballing, the idea of self-employment actually became reality.”

I was really on the edge about freelancing full time at first, because who am I to break the mold?

But ever since my daughter was born, I’ve been looking for a way to work from home. That was probably the first trigger. So I started looking into different ways to work from home.

Once I “figured out” this whole freelance thing, and the clients and income starting rolling in consistently, I was confident in moving forward.

I realized that pitching is just a numbers game.

A certain percentage of the pitches you send out will result in a lucrative contract. I built this business from scratch that way, so I knew I had the key to moving it forward.

I just had so much talent built up inside of me that wasn’t being used at its full potential at my full time job. The writing I get to do now is so fulfilling and ever-changing, which was also part of the decision.

You know how they say once you’ve mastered something, it’s time to move on? Well then, I probably should have moved on long ago. I can see that the future of content marketing is exploding so the income potential is much higher than the standard 3 percent raises until eternity as well.

How I prepared for the transition to full time freelancing

Once I realized that I could really pursue this freelance thing, I started talking seriously to my husband about making the transition. First, we wanted to make sure we could replace my corporate income. Even though it felt like I was just testing the waters at first, I was still treating it like a serious business.

Once the income and referrals started snowballing, the idea of self-employment actually became reality.

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Freelance Writing Biz?
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On a practical level, we made sure we had a little nest egg saved up, just in case. Once we were confident with that, it was time to put in my notice at my corporate job. I gave them six weeks notice, so they had enough time to start the recruitment process, and I had enough time to train my successor.

I let all my clients know that my schedule was about to open up more in case they had more projects or knew anyone else who did.

Most of the preparation I had to do was mental. The rest was easy.

2. Esther Brown (Virtual Assistant) – “I knew that the business was never going to appear if I was not there to build it.”

I was working at a job that I was increasingly starting to hate. I was bringing my laptop to work and sneaking virtual assistant (VA) work in, but only when my job was slow.

I knew my VA business was never going to be full time if I didn’t invest in myself. I had to invest the time. I didn’t have 40 hours a week to devote to growing my VA business while going to my day job. So, as soon as I was making a little over half my income in through my VA job, I quit.

I knew that the business was never going to appear if I was not there to build it.

How to Prepare for Freelancing Full TimeHow I prepared for the transition to full time freelancing

I picked up side work, here and there, for supplemental income, until my VA business got going. We lived with less, we went out less. It was an investment my husband were committed to.

I “opened my doors” as a VA in February 2016 and left my full time job March 2016.

(Gina’s Tip: Check out this seven-minute interview I did with Esther.)

I knew I would be a better person, better business woman, better wife, once I was not going to be my day job anymore, that was an investment we wanted to make. I quit my full time job with 1 client and hopes of growing my position within their company. I have a strong and driven Type-A personality. I felt that if I didn’t take the leap, I was never going to do it. I would be stuck at this job, I didn’t like, forever. I knew, no matter what, I was going to make it work.

(Fun fact: I followed up with Esther to see if she has a website that we could link to. She said she was so busy with client work and meetings with potential clients, that she didn’t have time to build her website yet. If that’s not more proof that you can make a decent living online without waiting for all the bells and whistles to be in place, I don’t know what is.)

3. Janet Berry-Johnson“Originally, I thought freelance writing would just supplement my income enough to let me work part time, but my business took off.”

My stress level at my office had been unbearable for a while.

As a CPA in public accounting, I worked long hours away from my family. When I was home, I was frazzled. I’d been looking for a way out for a while.

Originally, I thought freelance writing would just supplement my income enough to let me work part time, but my business took off.

In August 2016, I landed a contract with a company to spend up to 20 hours per week writing for them. That gave me the income stability I needed to feel comfortable freelancing full time.

How I prepared for the transition to full time freelancing

The biggest hurdle was convincing my husband that we wouldn’t go broke. I made a list of all of my regular clients, anticipated income, and a plan for continuing to find new clients.

I created a monthly budget to show him what I expected to earn and how much I would be able to set aside for taxes and save for emergencies or slow months. After we went over that together, he got behind me 100 percent.

The other big issues I had to think about were health insurance and saving for retirement. I had very generous benefits through my former employer. I enrolled in a plan through the Affordable Care Act for the remainder of 2016. As of the beginning of this year, I’m covered by my husband’s employer’s plan. It’s a little more out of pocket each month, but the benefits are much more generous.

I didn’t put anything away for retirement last year after I left my former employer’s 401(k) plan, but this year my goal is to contribute the maximum to an IRA ($5,500).

My writing career has been going even better than anticipated, so I don’t foresee any problem affording that.

4. Krystal Craiker (Writer) – “I felt my life should have way more freedom than it did.”

In my second-year of teaching, I was crying on my way to work almost every day.

I loved my students and my colleagues, but the stress was too much. I had no energy to do anything outside of work.

My third year was a bit better, but I had been neglecting friendships, and, quite frankly, acting like I was sixty years old, and I was only 25! I was engaged and childless, and felt my life should have way more freedom than it did.

In December, my anxiety had become quite severe. They threw a class on me to prepare the lowest students to retake their state history test, and I spent the whole month, and my whole Christmas break, with major anxiety attacks about test scores. I was miserable; it wasn’t worth it. I took Gina’s course on a whim, and within two weeks – before Christmas break was over – I made the decision that the spring would be my last semester.

How I prepared to freelance full time

Funny story – we really thought we had adequately prepared our finances, but I was crazy enough to move, get married, change careers, and go on two vacations in the same summer.

And then, in August, I got really sick, and had two ER visits and major tests done in a two-month span. So, my advice is to not time your transition with any other major life changes. Live and learn, I guess. We blew through the money we had set aside pretty quickly.

I had one regular client that basically paid two of our bills when I left. My husband’s salary took care of the rest. I also made the decision that being a full-time freelancer did not mean I had to *write* full-time.

I have found different flexible jobs that have helped significantly with finances and keep me busy. I do not like monotony.

Also, be very familiar with your healthcare options before you leave. I did endless research, and it has been nothing short of an ongoing nightmare. Also, find non-insurance options that are affordable in your area – charity clinics, low-cost doctors, etc.

5. Michelle Chalkey Barichello (Writer) – People eventually came back to me and offered me work, and finally work started flooding in.”

When I started Gina’s course in February 2016, I was working a contract job that went through August, but would likely extend through December.

I originally made a goal to be able to freelance full time when my contract would end in December, but I saw some success right as I got going and really gained momentum.

Since I was getting married in September, the idea of leaving my contract at the end of August was even more appealing. My fiance (now husband) was completely on board as long as I saved enough money to cover my share of the bills for a few months.

I changed my goal to be able to quit the full-time job at the end of August, get married, then have a fresh start with my new career.

How I prepared for the transition to full time freelancing

My husband and I agreed for me to save enough to cover three months of bills.

My client work wasn’t able to replace my income completely before I left my job, but I knew that having enough of a cushion in the bank would allow me to get by for a few months while I focused all of my time on building up my business.

The first couple months full time were slow, so having extra money in the bank helped me contribute to our bills while I kept pitching jobs and marketing my services.

I had a few ongoing clients in place and had landed magazine articles before I left my job, but what helped the most was telling everyone in my circles what I was doing, that I was leaving my job to write full time.

People eventually came back to me and offered me work, and finally work started flooding in.

Talking about it with other people allowed them to see how passionate I was about it. I believed in myself, my husband believed in me, and I saw great support from friends and family that made me want to carry through when times were tough.

Be confident about your decision and keep pushing even if the transition is rocky. Persistence pays off!

6. Leila Mooney (Writer) – If you need to take more time to save up money, do it!”

Deciding to take freelancing full time came as a culmination of events. I was helping others write edit college essays after work and on weekends for a fee. I found I really enjoyed the writing process. I’ve always enjoyed writing, even as a kid, but never knew how I could make it profitable for me.

That’s when I found 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success, which really lit the fire under me. I was feeling unfulfilled at my full-time position and to add to it, my agency decided to merge, which brought about a plethora of changes (none of them good).

During all this, my father got sick and had a rather serious operation. One night shortly after his surgery, it hit me. Life is too short to not be doing what you love or to be in a job that doesn’t make you feel good.

I decided then and there I was going to leave my job and began making plans, financially shoring myself up and buckling down on the 30 Days or Less course.

Six months passed between my a-ha moment and the day I left my job to freelance full time.

How I prepared for the transition to full time freelancing

Once I made the decision, I started to get my “house in order’. It started at home. It was a large decision, one that required an in-depth conversation with my husband to see if it was financially viable to take the leap.

As much as everyone would love to believe their spouse would immediately support them, I was pretty worried how my husband would take such an unconventional life change.

I truly am blessed my husband was supportive and excited for me.

We started by tallying up bills and debts and making budgets to cover any gaps between my old gig and any new freelance opportunities.

At my old position I began preparing for my departure even before I gave my notice. When the time came to give my notice, my office was ready for anyone to come in and resume where I had left off. I had started my program five years earlier, and I wanted to make sure it thrived without me.

In my opinion, anyone wanting to take this leap needs make sure it’s financially viable for them.

Unless you have a large client base starting out that replaces your current salary, do the math and see how you can save and budget to make up the difference.

If you need to take more time to save up money, DO IT!

Ready to Kickstart YOUR
Freelance Writing Biz?
Grab two of our most popular workSheets and get started TODAY!

Aren’t these people inspiring? If you’re considering freelancing full time, what steps are you taking towards preparing for this move?

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4 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Freelancing Full Time”

  1. I really needed this inspiration! Thanks to all of the freelancers who told their story. it lets me know that I too, can do this! Keep stories like these coming Gina1

    Reply
  2. I made the jump to freelance full time recently but was just offered a much higher salary in my old position (they basically want me to come back). I was going back and forth with my husband about taking it (he’s on board with me freelancing full time, after I showed him the numbers), but this helps me make the decision. Life IS too short to do something you don’t enjoy and, while the transition may be rocky, this is the right choice for me, for us, right now 🙂

    I really needed to read this. Thank you!

    Reply

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