Replacing my income so that I can choose how I spend my time is something that is very important to me, especially this year. I’m not made for the typical 9 to 5, similar to many other people. I prefer being an entrepreneur and content creator because I enjoy all the hard work that goes into being one. I love working to help businesses grow, even my own. It’s been so rewarding to watch both our blog and business consulting side hustles grow over the last year or so.
Recap: John and I made the decision for me to leave my high-stress financial services job to pursue our side hustles full-time. This was in hopes that the change would bring me more happiness and fulfillment. However, it was an extremely loaded decision that we contemplated for over a year. We anticipated the transition of losing a paycheck to be stressful, but were pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.
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How's it Going?
Overall, my experience working from home has felt like a complete luxury. And, it is! I’m not taking the opportunity for granted for one minute. I have been working all hours of the day to catch up on the backlog of “to-dos” that piled up over the last year. The funny thing is that I have a lot to do, but I’m enjoying it so much that I routinely find myself startled at how quickly time has passed each day.
What I Love
I love working from home. The flexibility I have is incomparable to any benefit that my previous employer provided. I no longer have to sit in traffic twice a day for an hour. In result, my gas bill is next to nothing and we’ll be able to keep my car for years to come due to little wear and tear. Additionally, our car insurance bill has gone down about $240 a year.
However, the most important thing that I love is that I’m feeling happy again. They say that if you do what you love it’s never work, and I’m living that every day now.
My old job was draining and took a lot out of me. I no longer have to pretend to be someone I’m not in Corporate America. The dread I felt each day that I worked there is gone, especially the crazy Sunday blues.
What I Dislike
I’d be ignorant if I didn’t acknowledge the loss of some key employer benefits, though. I dislike that I no longer have access to their health insurance, an employer match, and tuition and student loan reimbursement. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and one of the key factors that kept me from making the jump for so long. We’re just lucky that John is given great employer benefits as well.
Another factor that I have thought about is that my financial services licenses will expire 2 years from my last day if I don’t find another job in the industry before then. Right now, I’m completely at peace with that. However, it’s hard to think about all the months I put into studying for those exams. The Series 7 and 63 was my life for that period of time.
Coincidentally, the other day I saw a memory on my Facebook of the day two years ago that I accepted their offer of employment. I was ecstatic, as getting into their company was an extremely competitive process and one that my whole family was proud of. Seeing that memory honestly left a bad taste in my mouth. I had no idea of what was to come.
Side Hustle to Main Hustle: Replacing My Income in 2 Months
People say it’s important to have a side hustle because it’s something you can fall back on or use to bring in extra money. However, I challenge you to follow your passions and take a chance on scaling it if you want to. It worked for me, and I’m happy to say that my side hustle turned into my main hustle. I look forward to scaling it even further as time goes on.
During my 9 to 5 hiatus thus far, I’ve been working non-stop on our blog and business consulting side hustle. Unexpectedly, I’ve been able to replace my income from my previous job in only two short months by taking on a clients who need a lot of help growing their businesses.
Being able to keep up our savings rate from before was one of our biggest concerns with me quitting my job. So, this has taken a huge worry off our plate. To say I’m lucky is an understatement. We only missed my previous paycheck for a couple weeks before my next one started coming in.
How I Made It Happen
There are three keys ways that I was able to replace my income in such a short amount of time. If you have the right tools to learn from and the time to commit to it, scaling a side hustle won’t be as hard as you think. My experience has been beneficial because I can apply everything I’m learning and working on to both blogging and business consulting.
The main source of my income is coming from freelance writing. This is a task that anyone can pick up with the right skills. Even as a beginner, you can be a successful freelance writer if you are knowledgable in a particular niche, have strong attention to detail, and an apt sense of spelling and grammar.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are writing for your reader, which will help your post to rank in Google. I took Stupid Simple SEO to learn everything I could about search engine optimization (SEO). From finding keywords to on-page SEO, it’s helped me to elevate my writing.
I use this not only as a freelancer, but on our blog as well. It’s helped me to formulate more high-quality blog posts, and I am going back to our old articles to optimize them.
Another significant source of my income is running Facebook ads for businesses. This is a highly technical skill that not many people know how to do correctly. It’s way more complex than just “boosting” your post. If you do it right, you can achieve downwards of $0.02 a click for your campaign.
I loved taking FB Ads for Bloggers to teach me how to make high-quality and cost-effective ads for myself and my clients. It was one of the most comprehensive courses I’ve ever taken. Most importantly, I learned how to create niche audiences based on data, as well as how to navigate all of the customization and confusing settings that Facebook ads offer. Without guidance from this course, I wouldn’t be able to achieve the positive outcomes that I am or have the knowledge to analyze the results.
If you’re looking to start a freelancing business yourself, I highly recommend that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. I use Amira’s Independent Contractor Agreement for an easy solution. She’s a lawyer who created this template so you can customize it to your needs. You’ll fill out a few fields and provide it to your client in order to set expectations on services provided, payments, terms, confidentiality, and more.
One of the up-and-coming ways of replacing my income (and exceeding it) is blogging. We started How To FIRE back in July 2018 with no idea what we were doing. Over the last year we’ve learned so much, and this has elevated even more since I quit my job in July.
Every day we see our blog traffic and social media following increase. This creates such a sense of pride knowing that we are watching something grow from literally nothing – we started with a blank screen.
There are quite a few courses that we have taken and refer back to daily to learn about blogging. A few that we recommend are Bloggers’ Secrets from The Savvy Couple, and the Pro Blogger Bundle (4 course bundle) from Create & Go.
These courses help you as a day-one blogger all the way up through advanced stages. Here are just a few of the many topics you will learn in these courses:
- Domains, hosting, and creating your blog
- Making your blog legal
- How to publish articles that get results
- Guest post outreach
- Pinterest & Social Media Strategies
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts
- Product creation
Even though we knowingly took a temporary pay-cut from my job, we learned so much about finance during the transition. Our experience completely validates our support of substantial emergency funds. It was important to consider how much we needed for one person to lose their income, and how long we thought it would take to replace my income.
We didn’t know that I would be able to even come close to replacing my income in such a short period of time. But, we did know that I have a highly marketable skill-set, strong educational background and a long history of working hard. We also realized that making the decision to “jump ship” could potentially slow down our FIRE journey. It was just a matter of getting back to the same savings rate again.
Slowing down your journey doesn’t mean you’re failing or doing it wrong though. It’s about being intentional and making educated decisions that were planned for and well thought out. I would much rather work 5 more years doing something I love doing every day, then doing something that makes me miserable and unhappy.
Luckily, we were in full control on when the loss of income occurred and budgeted appropriately. We didn’t have to touch our emergency fund at all. It only hurt our savings rate for two months, and now it’s back up to par.
Moving Forward After Replacing My Income
Moving forward, I’m putting my foot on the gas. My hope is that we will be able to scale our blog and business consulting hustle even more. This will enable us to reach financial independence that much quicker. Who knows, maybe it will go so well that John will be able to quit his 9 to 5 job too!
11 Tips for Scaling Your Side Hustle
I have learned a few key pieces of information about scaling a side hustle thus far, and here they are:
- Learn how to sell yourself, so the client knows they need you
- Protect yourself legally with a contractor template
- Stay organized with software like Trello, Asana or Slack – use them for your to do lists and even managing projects with your team
- Manage your time wisely and don’t take on more work than you can handle unless you plan on subcontracting. You can use a tool like Toggl to track your time.
- Keep all of your files together and access them anywhere on pCloud – freedom and flexibility to work when and where you want is one of the benefits of freelancing!
- Use a Password Manager like Dashlane – if you have a ton of personal and client accounts to keep track of, this is a must!
- Keep your LinkedIn profile and resume up-to-date.
- Monitor your finances closely with Quickbooks – you’ll be surprised to know what you can write off as a business expense.
- Utilize your network to connect with potential clients – you could be referred from family, friends, classmates, past/current clients, or even past colleagues.
- Set up a website and/or social media accounts to market yourself.
- Get a business credit card from Chase to keep all of your business spending in one place. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a separate bank account and PayPal set up, especially if you end up starting an LLC.
Let me know how your side hustles are going in the comments! Do you have any tips on scaling a side hustle?