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How To Leave Your 9 To 5 For The Freelance Life

How To Leave Your 9 To 5 For The Freelance Life

So you’re fed up with your full-time job. The unnecessary stress, busy work, horrible bosses and more are enough to make anyone jump ship. But how exactly do you go from a cushy bi-weekly paycheck to the great unknown?

Simple. You have a plan…or plans.

When I left my full-time, full-benefits, bi-weekly paying job I was already planning my escape for several months. While the actual farewell threw me for a loop, I was surprisingly more well-prepared than I thought. At the end of the day, I was just scared. Society has conditioned us to believe that we have it all once we have a full-time job, stable housing, car, and attending happy hour at least once a week. All that sounds great and I had all of that…and I wasn’t happy.

So here’s what I did (and am doing) to get to the glorious* freelance life.

*It’s not always going to be easy…but it’s so worth it.

1. Establish A Support System

My friends, family and industry contacts have been my saving grace. With advice and pick-me-ups, I couldn’t have reached where I’m at without their push. Remember though, if you don’t believe in yourself (at least 80% of the time) you can’t expect anyone else to believe in you either. Don’t have a support system? Find one. Make one. Trust me, there are people out there that may have the same dream or just believe in yours. In the Facebook age, scour for a group to join! Google one, for crying out loud!

2. Have A Savings

This is crucial. I know how hard it is to save money these days but without even a measly $1500 (no, this IS NOT a lot of money) in my savings when I left my job I would be in so much crap. The more money you have saved, of course, the better. Before you make that leap, make note of crucial bills you have and what it would take to pay them. I strongly recommend having any crazy credit card debt paid off before leaving or at least have very, very small payments. Have student loans? Call your company and sort a new payment or deferment plan. Whether you do or you don’t have a savings…

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Get A Part-Time Job

If you stepped into this game thinking you could just quit your full-time job and immediately have the same (or more) income the next week, I got news for you, hunny. While it’s totally possible (if you have things set up beforehand) to start freelancing full-time, for most of us, it starts and stays part-time for a good while. There’s nothing wrong with getting a retail or restaurant job to make up for the lack of pay. If anything, it helps keep you on track. Take 2-3 days a week to work at your part-time and things with your freelance will start to balance out. Plus, you need an established income, especially when freelance clients take forever to pay you. Your part-time can cover things that need to be paid while your freelance checks will help out while you’re getting on your feet. Here’s a list of part-time jobs that can surely get you that extra income.

4. Learn To Budget

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Basically what was said in the last two points. Even when you do have a full-time job you should be budgeting, but when you’re freelancing, this is a must. Say you get 5 projects all at the same time and have a ton of income flowing in. You’re going to take yourself out and splurge a bit, right? Wrong. While you can totally take yourself out and buy one or two things you’ve been wanting, you should actually put away a fair chunk of that. Unless you have another batch of work coming in with a promising pay, treat that additional income like its in payments. Set some aside. Thank me later.

5. Learn To Not Be So Hard On Yourself

Okay, so this is definitely the pot calling the kettle black but it’s the truest bit of advice I can give. There are harsh realities that come with giving up a full-time job. You may have to move back home with Mom and Dad, you may only do happy hour once a month (or you could get smart and learn how to make your own damn Cosmopolitans), and you may have to start over and get another full-time job to sustain yourself again. This is what we call life and it’s not permanent and you will learn to adjust. However, you have to remember that you’re human and you’re learning and you’re doing your best.

Once you’ve set a plan for yourself the only thing left to do is take that leap. Trust me on this again: you will almost never feel ready but if you set a plan for yourself and stick to it, you’ll realize that the only thing holding you back…is you.

Are you thinking of quitting your full-time job for the freelance life? Have you already done it? Leave us a comment below with any tips you have!


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