How do you start to freelance when you’re working full time?

Posted on: May 18th, 2011

It’s hard to get your freelance business off the ground when you’re still working full time in your day job.

I recently heard an interesting talk from Cali Bird from Lead the Life You Want to Lead who has written a book about this subject. Here’s the advice she gave:

1. Write an action plan

What things do you need to put in place in order to start earning money as a freelancer? These are things such as devise a marketing campaign, get a website, work out where there are gaps in your knowledge you need to fill etc.

I find it helps if you create a table with three columns. The first column is headed ‘What’, the second is ‘By when’ and the third is there so you can put a tick in it when you’ve completed the task. It’s important to have a deadline column because, without deadlines, there’s every chance the actions won’t get done. My previous post about setting marketing goals and objectives is worth a read to help you with this.

2. Do the first action on your list

By making a start, you’ve taken your first step towards your freelance dream.

3. Take baby steps

If you’re working full time, there are only so many hours in the day available to you. So don’t stress yourself out trying to achieve too much, too quickly. Take it one action at a time and go at a realistic pace.

4. Work out how you can create more time for yourself

Because there are only 24 hours in a day, what things can you let go? Maybe you could forgo an evening out with your mates or you could spend less time watching telly at night. Unless you choose to set the alarm clock earlier each morning, you will need to stop doing some non-essential things for a while.

5. Keep on with your action plan

It’s very easy for procrastination and inertia to set in. If you’ve hardly made any progress with the action points on your list, find out what it is that’s stopping you. Don’t forget that persistence pays and where there’s a will there’s a way!

6. Answer these six questions

  • What three things do you want to have achieved in 12 months’ time?
  • What three things do you want to have achieved in six months’ time?
  • What three things do you want to have achieved in three months’ time?
  • What three things do you want to have achieved in one month’s time?
  • What three things do you want to have achieved by the end of next week?
  • What one thing do you want to have achieved by the end of tomorrow?

So, for example, your list could look something like this:

In one year’s time, I want to have:

  • Earned £25,000 from freelancing
  • Won three clients
  • Spoken at an industry event

In six months’ time, I want to have:

  • Left my full time job
  • Actioned my marketing campaign
  • Launched my website

In three months’ time, I want to have:

  • Told all my network of contacts that I’m planning to go freelance
  • Attended a course on xyz
  • Planned my marketing campaign

In one month’s time, I want to have:

  • Decided what kind of clients I want to aim for
  • Decided what my niche is/what kind of service I’ll be offering
  • Worked out where my knowledge gaps are

In one week’s time, I want to have:

  • Written my detailed action plan
  • Followed 20 freelancers on Twitter
  • Subscribed to three blogs about freelancing

By the end of tomorrow, I want to have:

  • Worked out how I can create more time for myself

And there you have the basis of your action list. From this, you can break each activity into individual tasks and allocate realistic deadlines for each one.

Don’t worry if you miss one or two of your deadlines – just aim to get back on track as soon as you can. Take the actions as baby steps. Remember, ‘you can’t eat an elephant all at once – but you can eat it one bite at a time’.

How did you make the transition from working full time to being freelance?

Read more posts about getting started as a freelancer.

Here’s the link again to Cali’s book for Amazon in the UK.

And here it is for Amazon in the US.

2 Responses to “How do you start to freelance when you’re working full time?”

  1. Judy Adamson
    February 15th, 2013

    Really helpful post, Carole!

    In my case, it’s cleaning the house that goes by the board, but also, sadly, some of my contact with friends – and some of them aren’t at all pleased :(

    The 6 questions in #6 are particularly helpful and just right for the stage I’ve reached in my planning.

    Thank you :)

  2. Carole Seawert
    February 18th, 2013

    Glad you found the post of use, Judy!

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