When people discover I earn my living freelance writing they often express a longing to do the same. Some will ask when and how they can quit their day job and write full-time.
Here are the four things you need in place before you leap:
- Know what your expenses actually are. This involves tracking every penny for at least a month, two or three months is better. Once you know what you really spend you’ll know what you really need to earn. Sure there will be some adjustments you can make. Almost everyone on a salary can comfortably cut some expenses. But there will be additions too – you’ll have to provide your own health and disability insurance, retirement plan, sick leave, and vacation pay. You also need money to pay self-employment taxes. A ballpark figure of about a third of your salary will give you a rough figure to work with.
- Develop a realistic earning plan. If you’ve been doing some freelance writing on the side and getting paid for it you’re in a position to begin to create a plan that includes, conservatively, what you can expect to earn. If you’re not already making some money freelance writing you may want more savings, or to wait until you know you can make at least something. Either way, creating an earning plan will help you understand exactly what you need to do.
- Create a marketing plan. Figure out how you can sell your writing work. Then decide what kinds of marketing you’re actually likely to do and make a plan based on that. It doesn’t have to be complicated or pretty. A simple list can be enough if you know you can and will work that plan If you follow that plan chances are the income will begin to flow in. And yes, you can put your marketing plan to work even before you quit your day job. That might be an excellent idea.
- Savings. Many experts suggest you have at least three months worth of income in savings, others suggest a full six months or more. The point is if you’ve got some savings in place the whole transition will be much easier. Include a savings plan in your spending plan; you’ll want your savings to grow as your writing business develops.
Some of your decision will depend on your life style. Those supporting a family may not be able to make the jump as soon as a single person. If you’re single, you’ve probably got more flexibility. Sometimes a spouse or parents are willing to help you with the transition from full-time job to full-time freelance writing.
If, as a result of taking a close look at what you need to earn, how much savings you have and other factors, you discover you can’t quit your day job at least you’ll have a much clearer idea of exactly what you need to do to get there.
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