Building a profitable freelance business takes time, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Copywriting is a good way to ease into freelancing, because it’s possible to begin as a part-time side gig to your day job that pays the bills. You gather experience, clients and a reputation while still having a roof over your head and food in your belly.
At this point I don’t have much experience, no clients, and no reputation. I would love love love to just quit my day job and go full-time right off the bat. But I’m a realist. I don’t kid myself into believing that I’ll earn a lot in the first few months – let alone enough to pay my bills. I do have enough money saved up to get me through about six months of unemployment. But if by then my freelance business hasn’t taken off, I’ll be dead broke and falling into debt, which I really want to avoid.
Basically, there are two questions you need to answer up front:
1. How much money do you have saved up?
2. What are your fixed monthly expenses, and how low can you get them?
The answers to these questions will let you determine how fast you would have to earn enough money to cover those fixed expenses before your savings run dry.
Let’s say you have 5,000$ saved up. Your fixed monthly expenses are 1,000$ (including taxes. Never forget the taxes!). This means two things:
1. You would last 5 months with the money in your savings before you’d fall into debt (if there were no money whatsoever coming in during this time).
2. You would have 5 months to start making at least 1,000$ per month (if you made some money before that, you might have a few months more before you had to reach that 1,000$ per month mark).
And this isn’t counting any unforeseen expenses like car repairs, doctor bills or that pesky price raise for your daily Starbucks Caramel Macchiato.
Of course, not everybody has the luxury of being able to ease into freelancing on the side of their day job. Or you may not have any money saved up at the moment. So in some cases, the choice is made for you – all or nothing.
In the end it’s up to you. But if you do have the choice, I suggest you don’t make it lightly. If you have the option of starting out while still earning money through your safe(r) day job, then I would test the freelance waters for two or three months before diving in all the way.
How about you? How did you start out, and why? What are your plans or experiences? Tell us about them in the comments.