This is a guest post from Yasmin at The Wallet Moth. Yasmin has been successful in ditching the 9-5 and earning a full-time income working as a self-employed writer – something I know a lot of people would love to acheive too! Yasmin has kindly shared her top tips.
How I Turned My Writing Side Hustle into my Full-Time Income: Top Tips
Towards the end of 2016, I had absolutely had it with my 9 – 5 office job. I felt unchallenged, unsatisfied, and completely miserable.
I had been working on the side as a content writer for some months, and I finally decided to make the changes I’d been dreaming of for ages; to quit my job, start my own business, and finally see more of the world.
So, I did it.
I worked 8 hours at my office job and then another 2 or 3 hours every single night from home, building up a freelance copywriting business from scratch. It was a long, long slog – months working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and trying to figure out the ins and outs of being self-employed at the same time.
It paid off though. In early 2017, I finally quit my job, flew to Asia, and began to run my own copywriting business from the road.
Although it didn’t feel it at the time, I know that achieving this was amazing to some people. I hated the thought that I had somehow made it while others felt the same as I did – miserable in their current jobs – but unable to break free.
That’s why I started my blog, The Wallet Moth, to give people the tools they need to build their dream lifestyle – because there are some real perks to earning online. Below are some of my biggest top tips if you also want to turn your side hustle into your full-time job…
Work for Free
I know; telling you to start off working for free sounds like terrible advice to give anyone looking to turn their hustle into a real job – but hear me out!
When I first started out, I didn’t have a big portfolio. I’m guessing you might be in a similar boat. That means your chances of landing a job when you’re against other freelancers are severely reduced.
To overcome this, I contacted anyone and everyone I knew who owned a business of their own, and I asked if I could write some new copy for their website or social media pages. For some, this was re-writing their entire website, and for others, it was just writing a few blog posts for them to publish.
Yes, this was a lot of work without being paid, but in reality, the return is much greater. I instantly had a big, impressive portfolio that evened out the playing field when applying for paying jobs. Doing this little bit of work for free now will really help you out when it comes to searching for actual clients.
Be Present Online
After getting my portfolio set up, obviously I needed somewhere to put it! Having a website to showcase your previous experience is one of the best ways to build up your client list and eventually be in a position where your side hustle could be your full-time job.
Initially, I set up my own website, shared my portfolio and contact details and left things there. Now, my website The Wallet Moth acts as my portfolio – and actually brings me so much work!
Whichever way you do things, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Update your social media accounts on a weekly basis minimum with any content you’ve written, a successful project you’ve just completed, or even by sharing a useful article on your side hustle that your followers might find interesting.
The number one thing is to get your name out there and let people know what you are offering.
Ask for Work
Some of my biggest paying clients today are friends or friends of friends who have been referred to my business. Never ignore the power of recommendations!
It can seem scary to tell the world that you’re building a business and to put yourself out there, but you are much more likely to secure a fantastic, well-paying project from someone who knows you will deliver than from a complete stranger.
Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to scale your side hustle up and ask them to refer their friends and family in turn.
You could even contact some local businesses in your area and ask if they have any work going – just by showing the initiative you could quickly land more clients than you might with the traditional job board route.
Look for the Right Jobs
When I first started trying to expand my side hustle enough to become my full-time job, I was applying for anything and everything. However, in hindsight, I now realise that I was wasting a lot of my time and energy for little return.
Instead, I should have picked a niche and targeted it. Now, I have a niche that I am a real specialist in, and stand a much higher chance of winning these jobs when I apply for them because of that previous experience.
In contrast, if you’re a generic writer or web designer or whatever side hustle you have, you could be overlooked by potential employers in favour of someone who has a lot of experience in that industry.
Niches you could specialise in could include:
- Health & Fitness
- Digital Marketing
- Real Estate
Those are just a few – but picking one big industry and focusing on building up your experience in that niche will actually open a lot more opportunities to you than closing them.
I always, always say that my ability to live frugally is one of the number one reasons I was able to build my business to the point that it’s at today.
When I get a paycheck, the majority goes into my savings – and the rest is what I am allowed to live on. Making this attitude a habit has allowed me to accumulate an impressive emergency fund that gives me a real security cushion of confidence that should everything implode, I can support myself financially until I figure out my next steps.
To seriously give turning your side hustle into your full-time job, I would advise you to be the same about your financial habits. Be frugal, save as much as you can, and even as your income rises, commit to living well within your means and you’ll be so much better off.
Slowly Scale Up
I definitely didn’t leap from ‘side hustle’ to ‘full-time job’ in one easy jump.
At first, I spent several months working hard on my portfolio and website in the evenings while I was still working in my 9 – 5 office job, took on loads of one-off payings jobs that I found on job boards such as Upwork and ProBlogger, and I then finally quit my job once I had landed a long-term client that would pay me on a monthly basis.
Even then, I was earning maybe half my salary at my 9-5. This worked fine for me as I was living in Asia (with considerably lower living costs than the UK), and I had been saving for this very moment for months.
However, if you would be staying in the UK and have things like a family and a mortgage to take care of, I would definitely advise you to go even slower before considering quitting your job.
It’s taken me a year to be making more than I was at my 9 – 5. I am working less hours than I was, and am so much happier, but it has been a slow process.
Going this slowly has allowed me to get accustomed to being my own boss (that means no holiday, no sick days, managing yourself, and handling taxes – my least favourite!), and has also ensured that I am able to take on every new client and provide the same quality of service to each and every one.
Jumping into the full-time gig head first would most likely have left me overwhelmed and doing a half-hearted job as I figured everything else out.
If you’re serious about turning your side hustle into your full-time job, my number one piece of advice would therefore be to be patient, and go slow.
If you have the drive, determination, and keep on improving your skills, you will make it – but if it takes you a year, two years, or more to build something sustainable and solid then that is a far better position to be in than running out of steam a few months down the line.