Some people leap from full-time work into freelancing without a safety net in place. They use the
fear terror of spectacular failure to force them into action.
I am not one of those people.
When I switched from being a marketing dogsbody in charge of stuffing envelopes to being a freelance copywriter in charge of my destiny, I did everything I could to make the outcome predictable.
Predictably NOT a failure.
First, I set the foundation.
Once I found out about copywriting, I was desperate to start my freelancing life but I didn’t want to rush it. Instead, I quietly built my copywriting business over six months.
👉🏻 I took a copywriting course to accelerate my writing knowledge.
👉🏻 I spent a lot of lunch hours learning about small business accounting and other grown-up things you need to know to run a business.
👉🏻 I joined a mentoring program to get the inside track on a roadmap to success.
TL;DR I learned while I earned.
👉🏻 I started marketing myself well before I was “ready”. I created social media profiles and started sharing content, hoping that curating great content would be useful for my positioning. It was.
👉🏻 I went to small business events and hung out on small business forums. Yes. Forums. Before FB groups, there were forums. I hung out and talked about copywriting whenever it was useful.
👉🏻 I introduced myself to website developers, graphic designers and printers because we shared a client base. These connections turned into my biggest referral network!
TL;DR I became visible while I earned.
But there came a point when I had to decide whether I was going to keep (slowly) building the side hustle or go all in.
As much as I wanted to walk through the office leaving a paper storm and shocked expressions in my wake, I took a more strategic approach. I pitched my boss the option of hiring me at my new freelancer rate. He didn’t have to go through an expensive hiring process or pay me to faff about in the lunchroom, and I walked out with my first retainer client.
It was a win-win.
This entire journey is front of mind thanks to a member of my Confident Copywriting group sharing their concern that they’d never have time to leave their 9-5pm.
Let’s be honest. Getting your side hustle up and running is time-consuming. Sometimes all-consuming. Doing it when you’ve just come home from a full day of work takes a LOT out of you.
And a steady pay cheque is hard to give up. Especially if your budget is already stretched pretty thin.
But there comes a point when you have to decide.
Here are three signs I knew it was time to quit working for someone else and go all in on me.
#1 My marketing systems were working.
I wasn’t getting many clients as I only had evenings and weekends to write their copy, but I had regular enquiries, which meant that I could get more clients if I had more time.
#2 I had three months of bill money saved.
I acknowledge my circumstances here. I had a partner with a well-paying job, so we weren’t going to starve as my salary dropped, but having a stash of cash made the decision to leave my 9-5 feel a lot safer.
#3 The pain of staying was greater than my fear of leaving.
This is a big one. I began to resent each day I went to someone else’s office, doing work I didn’t enjoy, counting the minutes until I could work on my business.
Eventually, that pushed me out.
If you’re reading this and planning your exit strategy, create some milestones you’ll work towards. Milestones that will signal when it’s time to shift gears and move forward towards your own goals.
It’s 100% worth it.