Corporate freelancing is not only a business, it’s a career choice. You cannot “dabble” or do this as a hobby. When I hire freelancers to subcontract for me, I only work with full-timers. That’s because if I need your help, I need hours, days, weeks, even months of commitment. In other words, your day job gets in my way.
By the same token, corporate clients are not interested in working with a writer whose business is not writing. Your day job gets in their way too. The people who engage your services are not the CEOs, business owners or even executives. They are low- to mid-level managers who work nine to five like everyone else. They will want to contact you during those same work hours. They’ll email, IM and call you. They’ll expect to reach you. And they’ll expect the same professionalism they would get from any other vendor.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard freelancers admonish others not to quit their day jobs. I say you CAN quit you day job. In fact I believe you must quit your day job in order to be a corporate freelancer.
Your freelance business must become your day job.
But, before you hand over your two weeks notice, you’ll need a couple safety nets — just in case your business gets off to a slow start. This is good advice for any would-be entrepreneur. In fact, when I fist started thinking about becoming a freelancer back in 2007, I bought a book about how to quit the day job, which is where I learned how to do this. (Sorry, I have long since lent out the book and cannot remember the title or author, but I’m sure there are plenty such books available today.)
DO NOT, under any circumstances, quit your day job until all three safety nets are in place. It took me six months to prepare these safety nets. It might take you longer or shorter, depending on your present financial situation.
The safety nets are:
1. Rearrange your finances to minimize your monthly expenses
The point being that the less you need to earn, the safer you’ll be once you quit your job. Look over your bank statement to see where your money goes now. Try to account for every penny you spend. You might have to do this for several weeks or months to get a real feel for how you spend money. Most people don’t realize their own waste until they put a spotlight on it. Then see how you can save. (How low can you go?)
- Can you consolidate or payoff any debt?
- Ask credit card companies to lower your interest rates.
- Are you wasting energy or water? Do you have leaky toilets or drafty walls?
- Do you absolutely need the presidential package on your cable? Can you find a better cell phone plan?
- What’s your car insurance deductible?
- Other ideas?
Think also about expenses you’ll no longer have once your not working (transportation, parking, gas, lunches) AND think about new expenses you’ll have once you do quit (switch to your spouses health insurance, or buy health insurance). Do not drop your babysitter or day care. You home-based business is still a day job and you can’t have kids around needing your attention.
2. Build up a savings account with 6 to 12 months of income
As your monthly expenses go down, begin building your savings account right away. Based on your reduced monthly goal, how much will you need to earn each month? Multiply that by the number of months of income you plan to keep in savings. I recommend no less than six months. Many financial experts recommend 12 months. Make this your savings account goal. Keep track and celebrate milestones. This will encourage you to stay the course.
Find extra cash to stash
Can you speed up your savings goal with big chucks of money?
- Cash in poor-performing investments?
- Sell any big ticket items (Jewelry, treasures in the attic, the boat you haven’t used in three years, do you need that second car?)
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Can you get a part-time job to help build up your savings?
Don’t even think about touching your retirement money! That’s for your retirement.
3. Line up your first client before you quit your day job
Once you have your first and second safety nets in place, you’re almost ready to take the plunge. But, don’t do it yet! Line up your first mega corporate client AND your first major gig — not a small one-day job, but something big. That way, you can hit the ground running when you do quit your day job.
How to get mega corporate clients is a whole different blog, which I’ll get to soon. Meanwhile, you can get started on your first two safety nets. Good luck!