In this series of blogging posts I’m attempting to answer some of the questions I’m asked as a full-time blogger and freelancer.

I’m often approached by people who have begun to earn a small side income through blogging and freelance work and want to know how to make the leap and do this full time.

I’ve been freelancing for just under a year so I’m still new to this myself and hardly and expert. But I often find that it’s best to write tips when everything is new and shiny. There have been highs and there have been lows and they’re all still fresh in my memory.

Here are some tips for anyone looking to make the transition to freelancing…

Blogging tips

In this article I’m going to assume that you already know how you will be earning a living as a freelancer. Many people ask me how they can ‘quit their jobs and be freelance’ without actually knowing where their income will come from. I’m afraid no one can decide how you could earn a living but you.

How will you earn a living?

If you’re still unsure, think about the skills and experience you have and the type of work people are prepared to pay for. Think about jobs that don’t necessarily need to be done in an office environment but, most importantly, think about what you love.

When you’re working for yourself you need be 100% motivated to get up each morning and work. You might end up working 12-hour days and there’ll be no one nagging you or making sure you’re at your desk by 9am.

Finding what you actually want to do may be the hardest part but once you’ve found it, the lifestyle that comes with being freelance is well worth all those extra hours spent working.

Remember that you can do more than one thing as a freelancer. In fact, some people think it’s best to diversify. I wouldn’t do so many things that people are unsure what your skills are but life is much more interesting when you have a few different types of jobs.

Save enough money to live on for 3-months

Don’t even think about quitting your job until you have saved enough to pay your expenses for at least 3 months. Some people may recommend 6 months but if you have too much money saved (if there is such a thing) you may be tempted to take a mini holiday before launching into your freelance career and procrastinate for a few months.

You want to have enough saved that you can afford to say no to the jobs that don’t feel right. You will be asked to do some crappy jobs for crappy money.

A 3-month supply of cash is enough money to give you a kick up the bum and find work, but just enough to be picky about the work you accept.

Have clients ready and waiting

Don’t quit your job until you have some clients. Finding clients while you’re still in fulltime employment can be a catch 22 situation. You can’t find clients while you’re in work because you can’t leave to go to meetings or spend time pitching ideas. But you don’t want to leave work until you find clients.

Basically, for the few months leading up to you quitting your job you may need to work 24/7. Yes, really.

I was getting up at 6am to do a few hours freelance work before my 9-6 job (there’s no such thing as a 9-5 job in London). I’d then go to a networking event straight from work then go home and do a few more hours work.

I didn’t find it exhausting because I loved the work I was doing and was so excited about the prospect of freelancing. I think this is when you know freelancing is for you – when you’d happily work for 15 hours a day simply because you love it. Having supportive friends and family really help too.

(Big shout out to my guy here for not once complaining about my constant workload and being super supportive every step of the way.)

Blogging office space

Know when to take the leap

Of course, you can’t carry on working 15 hour days forever so it’s important that you know when to take the leap into being a full time freelancer. Only you can decide when the time is right.

Remember that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll always be glad you tried.

Don’t burn any bridges

When the time comes to quit your job you’ll probably be overwhelmingly relieved and excited but make sure you leave on good terms. I was lucky that I loved my job at Flight Center but if you don’t enjoy your job it can be tempting to instantly reveal how much you hated it.

You never know, your former employers could turn into future clients or, at the very least, end up giving you a glowing reference that leads to a huge opportunity.

Have an office space

As much as I love the idea of working in bed and only emerging from the duvet to refill my teapot, in reality this doesn’t work.

For me, it’s really important to have an office space. I need somewhere to keep all my files and notes tidy and a room I can close the door to at the end of the day. I also like having a nice big screen and a spacious desk to work at. You’d be surprised how quickly your back and neck starts to ache when you’re hunched over a laptop on the sofa!

Location independent

OK, sometimes I’d trade in my office to work here

Keep learning

When you work in an office you’re surrounded by colleagues and you’re constantly learning from one another. You might not even realise it but during those brainstorming sessions, pub lunches and meetings you’re sharing knowledge and ideas.

This can be more difficult when you’re working alone so make sure you stay ahead of the game and keep learning. Sign up to online courses, read blogs and websites written by industry experts, read a many books as you can, subscribe to every magazine in your field and make sure you network like crazy.

I’m not sure about other industries but the blogging and social media industry moves so quickly that you can’t afford to take your eyes of the game for a second. You look away and a new network has popped up or a new trend has emerged.

Find new colleagues and use co-working spaces

There’s only one thing I don’t like about freelancing and that’s the lack of colleagues. When I’m not travelling I’m usually at home with my pooch. He’s an entertaining little chap but is useless in a tea round and is pretty quiet during brainstorming sessions.

Colleagues

 I’m imaging I’ll have this much fun with my new co-workers…

If I’m working from home all week it can start to get pretty lonely so I’ve started looking into co-working spaces where I can have an office environment and connect with other freelancers.

I speak to my fellow bloggers on a daily basis but it isn’t the same as face-to-face chats.

Get off social media

Now this is a tough one for me because a lot of the freelance work I do is social media consultancy. But yes, really, GET OFF FACEBOOK!

Social media is one of the most effective marketing tools available to us today. But it’s also one of the most effective procrastination tools too.

(If you’re a brand and you want to know how to use social media most effectively without getting sucked into a time warp and loosing half your day on Twitter, hit me up because I specialise in showing people how to effectively use social media in 15 minutes a day).

Tips to become a full time freelancer

Sell your services

See what I did there with that cheeky sentence above? That’s selling my services and you know what, it works. Each time I blog about being a freelancer I find a new client who is looking for a blogger, copywriter or social media strategist. You need to take every available opportunity to market yourself.

You can’t sit at home refreshing your emails and expect your clients to find you. Get yourself out there and find them.

Treat every client like they’re paying you millions

I seriously wish that every client paid me millions but my point here is that you should treat every client, even the little ones who require tiny jobs, like they are your most important client ever.

A lot of my work comes through word of mouth recommendations from other clients who are happy with my work. People trust recommendations above anything else. I may be working with one company on a tiny project but they might recommend me to someone else who is working on huge projects.

The internet is full of phony freelancers who are nothing more than lazy people who quit their job because they hated their boss. Don’t be one of those people. Prove you have some 5* skills and your recommendations will soon spread.

If you’ve got any questions about freelancing or you’re a freelancer or full time blogger and you’ve got something add, pop your comments below!

36 Responses

  1. The Guy

    Hey Monica, these are great tips and advice from someone like yourself who has made such a success of this.

    I like your idea of 3-6 months savings which is very wise advise.

    I do think your dog should contribute more though, opting out of tea rounds, I hate it when people do that ;-)
    The Guy recently posted..Spring Hill Suites Latrobe Hotel ReviewMy Profile

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  2. Lemuel

    I have been working from home as a freelancer since 2010 and I can totally agree and relate to your posts. I think every person who is thinking of becoming a freelancer should read this post. The idea of not having to travel to get to work is just awesome and I can just practically be wearing anything.

    Reply
    • TheTravelHack

      That’s true. Although I love a good excuse to get dressed up now, if not I can spend an entire month is scruffy jeans and a t-shirt. Every couple of months I won’t get dressed but I can guarantee on that one day I will have at least 15 people knock on my door. Every single time!

      Reply
  3. Elle Croft

    Thanks for writing this – such great advice! I don’t know if I’ll ever make the leap to freelance, but if I do, this info has been invaluable.

    PS – the maths in your anti-spam thing gets me every time. 6+x=15…ummm?….! Haha
    Elle Croft recently posted..Things to do in St Petersburg, RussiaMy Profile

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    • TheTravelHack

      Oh dear, I need to change that don’t I. I’ve had a few people mention it but I assumed they couldn’t count!

      Reply
  4. Rosie Slosek

    I am so pleased you are talking about this. A lot of bloggers don’t realise that even if they don’t want to become full time, if they make money on their blog (even from ads, sponsorship just to cover costs), they need to keep records and may already need to register as self employed.

    Either way, you need to do something!

    It’s not as difficult as it sounds, the main problem is not knowing and allowing that to get in the way of finding out (and wasting a lot of time not doing anything that could be better spent on travelling, chocolate and shoes).

    It’s easy to get started, I have some free worksheets and a flowchart to help:

    http://onemanbandaccounting.co.uk/tax-for-bloggers
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..Tax Tools For BloggersMy Profile

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  5. Renuka

    I’m happy to find this article as I am on the lookout for new freelance work. Yes, I am also a full time travel blogger and freelancer. The only bad thing about freelancing is that you have to wait for good work to come your way. Thanks for this encouraging guide!
    Renuka recently posted..Secrets Of Frequent TravellingMy Profile

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    • TheTravelHack

      Or go out and find it? Sometimes a company might need a little tap on the shoulder to remind them you’re there.

      Reply
  6. Annabel

    Great tips. I’d love to freelance, but don’t have the confidence (yet!). I think I could be a social media strategist, but then think – what gives me the right to call myself a specialist, when I have no real training?!

    Reply
    • TheTravelHack

      I think it’s more about experience in social media. Once you can prove you’ve launched effective campaigns that have great results, that’s when you can call yourself a specialist. Yes, you could take a course but I don’t think that proves anything other than you can read a text book and pass an exam.

      Reply
  7. Rob

    Thanks, useful as always.
    As a new blogger I find excuses why people wouldn’t pay me to write rather than reasons they would. It’s probably too early to call myself a freelancer as 99% of my writing is for my own blog.
    I like the idea of getting off the couch (yes I have a sore neck) and I’m seriously going to try it!
    Thanks again
    Rob
    Rob recently posted..Moel Famau and The Clwydian RangeMy Profile

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  8. Glamourous Traveller

    Wonderful tips! The upside of going to co-working space is of course that you get to meet other people. The downside is that sometimes it costs money to actually get a space allocated to you! I’ve partly solved my dilemma by pretending I really am in an office when I’m working from home.

    I get up, take a refreshing shower and put on ‘work clothes’. Sitting in my jammies is a surefire way to make sure I end up in front of my sofa doing nothing. When it comes to lunchtime I make sure to take the time to head out to grab something lest I be tempted (again) to sit in front of the TV. It takes a lot of discipline, but works well for me!
    Glamourous Traveller recently posted..Weekly Travel Outfit – Temple of Edfu, EgyptMy Profile

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  9. Hamilton

    I am hopping I could take the leap sooner rather than later. I believe I can get my website earning a bit more if focus on it over the next couple of months.

    The income from this would provide the safety net that is necessary for me to take the plunge.

    All in all a wonderful article filled with great advice.

    Reply
  10. Cindy

    Could’nt agree more : GET OFF FACEBOOK ! It’s such a time-waster : remember you’re not on the clock anymore, every second you waste, it’s your own business you’re wasting away !
    Working offline is such an help ! You can look up that word later, you can spell check later : right now focus on writing, without any disturbance (no need to check email right this second). You’ll get sooo efficient !
    Cindy recently posted..Save sharks, save the worldMy Profile

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    • TheTravelHack

      Yes, I love getting offline to get some work done. At first I panic but then I realise I’m way more productive.

      Reply
  11. Leasha

    Hi great post,
    I think I’m a looong way off this yet but I do have a couple of questions if you wouldn’t mind answering them. :)
    Firstly, freelance writer…I understand the term in filming terms (I do a media degree) but in writing it does confuse me. Do you write an article for them ? And when is the right time to ask for payment? From guest posts to freelance I guess you could say it’s quite a step up.
    Thanks in advance!
    Leasha x

    Reply
    • TheTravelHack

      Hi Leasha,
      Yes as a freelance writer you write articles for publications. Sometimes it will just be one article and sometimes it will be a contract for a batch of articles.
      In terms of payment, it’s really up to you. It’s unlikely anyone will pay you until you have a small portfolio of written work to prove you’re a good writer but you shouldn’t write for free for too long. Other people say that if you’re a good writer you should never write for free.

      Reply
  12. kresnap

    Thanks for sharing! I have always wanted to be a travel blogger but always managed to find an excuse to procrastinate, hahaha… I can really relate to your blog as I too belong to the middle income traveller with limited disposable income but love splurging from time to time :)

    Reply
  13. Stephen

    Thanks for sharing this. I am thinking of this for a few months now especially on
    being a traveling photographer/ creative director. A career spanning over 30 years founding and managing ad agencies and commercial photography studios till i decided to stop from living a life of “yesterday datelines”. Glad to share that i am finally free from all that and with the kids growing up, i can finally travel more while freelancing. Any experience and advice from all would be great ! Thank you once again for this article.

    Reply
  14. Light

    Agree! Specially getting off on Facebook… It really is a recipe for being less productive. Also the fact that you treat every customer as a VIP is very rewarding. Not only you establish a solid work relationship but you are also giving them what kind of a worker you are which in the long run that can vouch for you in the event that you need to find another clients.
    Light recently posted..OFFER – 25 % until week 26 – 2015 – Denmark – Jutland – NorthMy Profile

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