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While I originally created this website for current students and recent graduates who want to jump into freelance writing online from the start, I do realize that a number of ya’ll might not be in that demographic. You’re new to the concept of web content writing as a career path, but you already have a 9-to-5 job. That’s ok. Congrats on taking the step to learn more about this industry!

This can lead to a problem, though - gaining the courage to quit your job and be a full-time writer. When you don’t have a job at the start, it is easy to give freelancing a try, but when you have a stable, well-paying job? Well, quitting takes balls. Big balls. Lotta big balls. It’s scary, and frankly, most people spend their lives in a constant state of part-time writing, because they don’t want to give up their job security.

I can’t put your mind totally at ease. No matter how well-prepared you are, quitting your job to be a freelance is nerve-wracking. If you do the following seven things, however, you’ll feel better about the decisions and have a better chance as succeeding as a freelancer:

1. Save up three months of security money.

Before you quit your job, make sure you have at least three months of what I call “security money.” In other words, if you don’t find a single writing job in three months and have absolutely no income, do you have enough money to pay the bare minimum bills? Financial pressure can be a huge motivator when it comes to finding writing jobs, but at the same time, you have responsibilities. If you have children to support, you might want to save up even more money before you quit.

2. Figure out your monthly budget.

How much money do you need to make every month to pay your bills? Keep in mind that you have to figure in taxes, since freelancers have to pay estimates every few months. You can cut out some of your pleasures, like eating at restaurants or going to the movies, but if you nee to pay for groceries, pay your rent/mortgage, etc. every month. How much money do you need to make through jobs to cover the bare minimum? Then, figure out how much money you need to continue with your current standard of living, which includes “wants” like entertainment and putting money into savings. Don’t quit your job without knowing how much you need to make every month.

3. Secure at least one long-term client.

If you haven’t yet, you should consider signing up for my free ebook (just enter your email address on the right-hand sidebar), which talks all about how to ensure that you’re meeting salary goals. It all starts with one client, though. Before you quit your day job, line up at least one long-term gig, preferably one that covers at least 1/3 of your monthly expenses. This can be a blogging job, a job working for a content writing company that has continuous work (like Demand Studios), or writing job for a client who has expressed the wish for a long-term relationship (like writing multiple ebooks).

4. Find insurance.

When you quit your day job, you’re not just giving up your salary; you’re also giving up your benefits. Not having health insurance is risky, so find out when your insurance benefits will end and be prepared to purchase insurance independently. If you’re married, you might be covered under your spouse’s benefits, but if you’re not, you’ll need private insurance. Be prepared for the cost, since you’re looking at rates ranging from $100 and up for just a single, healthy, young person (ex: I pay about $135 per month as a 25-year-old female).

5. Develop a back-up plan.

Freelance writing is just like any other job. Some people are really, really good at it. Other people are not. It has nothing to do with writing talent or passion. Well, I mean, if you have no talent/passion, you’re obviously not going to succeed as a freelancer, but I mean that you can have all the passion and talent in the world and still fail. I know more than one person who has found that this in not the right career path for them. If that happens to you, do you have a back-up plan? Would you be welcome to apply for a job with your former employer? Do you have other places in your area where you could apply? Is there another industry that interests you - and do you have the financial means to take a chance on changing careers again? If you have a plan in case you end up not liking freelance writing, you’ll feel better about quitting your job to give it a try.

6. Set up a home office or other kind of work space.

Yes, you can work on your laptop from your couch while watching television or even take your work with you to the library, the park, a cafe with WiFi, etc…but if you don’t prepare your home for your to work, you’ll have less of a chance at succeeding. This is especially true if you live with roommates or have children. They tend not to understand that you actually have to do work during the day. If you have a workspace set up for you, you can retreat there to a “no bugging me unless someone’s bleeding on on fire” zone.

7. Talk to your family.

You don’t necessarily need permission from mommy and daddy to start down a new career path, and you don’t even need permission from a spouse per se - but making them part of the decision will make the transition much smoother. If you have kids to support, your spouse definitely needs to be a part of the conversation. In any case, talk to the people who matter most in your life. Be prepared for them to be upset or confused about your want to quit a stable job to be a writer. Most people have no idea what it means to be a freelancer. Allow them to voice their concerns, and be prepared to talk about your savings, your back-up plans, and so forth. Check out this post about talking to your parents about freelance writing, which can be altered slightly to use when talking to any family member.

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  1. Mike CJ on Saturday 4, 2010

    The last two are really important. You do need some space, and you do need to “go to work” even if it’s just down the hall. Family support is also vital, let them know what you’re doing, what your objectives are, and how they are progressing.