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In this episode, I interview Kim, who owns and operates a personal finance blog called The Frugal Engineers. Kim didn’t start out working freelance full time. In fact, she leveraged her professional experience as an engineer to network her way into high paying freelance projects. Not only did she pay off her mortgage early, but she and her husband are also on track to retire early. So how did she transition successfully into a freelance position while balancing motherhood, a full-time job, and a busy side hustle? Find out by listening to the latest episode.
Start With What You Know
Many people believe that freelance work is completely separate from any previous professional experience. But, Kim took a different approach to her freelance business. Kim says that it’s not uncommon for engineers to take on side projects, especially due to the fact that engineers can sometimes make double or more than their average pay with freelance work. So when she was asked to take on a side project, she quickly said “yes” and found that she enjoyed the work. Due to the small community for her type of engineering, word got out that she was taking on freelance client work, and the project proposals started rolling in.And the same day I found out I passed the professional engineer test was the same day I found out I was pregnant. And the following Monday, I put in my notice and went fully self-employed. @frugalengin1 Click To Tweet
Leverage Your Network To Freelance
Kim’s freelance work would have never picked up steam if it weren’t for her utilizing her network of colleagues. And Kim’s not the only one to speak about the power of networking. Drew DuBoff, a Growth Strategist and Outsourcing Expert, says that “Without a doubt, networking, specifically in Facebook groups, was instrumental in my being able to pursue my virtual assisting business full-time.” Drew says that networking within your field is not always passive, but a great way to build trust and relationships with potential clients. Drew has helped many five and six-figure bloggers such as Alex and Lauren, the creators of Create and Go, Kelan and Brittany from The Savvy Couple, and Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom scale their online businesses with his freelance work. You can learn more about Drew’s free Online Scaling Blueprint here.If you invest in your network from the beginning, it will pay off its dividends later. @DrewDuBoff Click To Tweet
Become A Specialist
The next important freelance hack is to become a specialist. Although it might seem contradictory to become a specialist when there are many paying freelance opportunities, Kim’s story indicates that it’s important to be highly sought after when it comes to the type of work you do. And the good news is that even if you don’t currently have the technical skills, you can always learn. Cody Berman, the co-founder of Gold City Ventures, owner of Fly to FI, and co-host of The FI Show left his corporate banking job at age 22 to pursue entrepreneurship full time and now teaches others how to do the same. Cody says, “As a freelancer, your highest return on investment is to learn the most current and in-demand skills.” Cody learned how to edit podcasts, design beautiful websites, and found that the market is constantly changing when it comes to what people are looking for in freelance work. And with each paying job, he was able to leverage his past experience to increase his income.
Create Financial Goals
Unlike traditional income, freelance work can take some time getting used to. When you first start, you might not have a solid clientele base and so it’s important to create a solid savings plan and strategy before you quit your 9-5 job. Kim and her husband, who are now both working full-time from home, created a financial strategy of decreasing their expenses so that they didn’t have to rely solely on their full-time income working at an office. In fact, Kim started her financial blog because she wanted to help others see the freedom that she and her husband experienced after paying off her mortgage and having the flexibility of working from home.
Related Post: How to Quit Your 9 to 5: From Employee to Entrepreneur
Say Yes to Opportunities
Next, saying yes to new opportunities may sometimes mean getting paid less in the beginning. Cody Berman says, “My first freelance writing paid $50 for a 1,000-word post. Nearly a year (and tons of work) later, I received my first $1,000 blog post. We all have to start somewhere.” There may be many times when you don’t know how to accomplish a task, but you’ll need to be resourceful and say yes to new chances to hone your craft, build experience, and create a solid portfolio or case studies that you can show to future potential clients that are interested in your work. While I don’t always advocate for taking on low paying jobs, it’s important to consider that it can be very similar to just starting out in your corporate job, in that you may not always be receiving top dollar for your services.My first freelance writing paid $50 for a 1,000-word post. Nearly a year (and tons of work) later, I received my first $1,000 blog post. We all have to start somewhere. @flytofi Click To Tweet
Don’t Forget Uncle Sam
Taxes can be one of the biggest stressors for new entrepreneurs. And for good reason. Paying your taxes is as important as operating your business. According to Logan, who left his corporate CPA job to pursue blog writing full-time, “When working a side hustle, it’s easy to get excited by any additional income. However side hustle income enters your bank as pre-tax income.” Logan goes on to say that saving money from each payment you receive to go towards taxes is an important habit to start. “Make sure to allocate at least ~30% of that side hustle income to be paid back to Uncle Sam at the end of the year.” Logan owns and operates his business at Money Done Right and says that entrepreneurs should make use of high yield savings account to keep their money safe and to keep up with inflation.
Related Article: How to Open a Business Bank Account
Be Adaptable to Challenges
Freelance work does not come without its challenges. That’s why Social Media Manager and Podcast Host of the Freelance Friday Podcast, Latasha James advocates that when you first start out you might not always have the most lucrative services or products. This is an important lesson to learn for anyone trying to make additional revenue on the side. Persistence and adaptability are important in freelance and side hustle work. Latasha says, “Don’t be afraid to pivot! What you initially set out to do might not end up being the most profitable, or the thing you enjoy the most, so be adaptable. Also, never stop learning and trying to improve your craft.”Don’t be afraid to pivot! What you initially set out to do might not end up being the most profitable, or the thing you enjoy the most, so be adaptable. @thelatashajames Click To Tweet
Know Your Worth
After you have built up your experience as a freelance writer, podcast editor, or any type of side hustler, you’ll now be able to see the good and the great opportunities and actually say no to some offers. Freelance personal finance writer and blogger, Bob at The Frugal Fellow, says, “Know your worth. You probably have bills to pay so don’t accept just any offer because it’s more than $0. You have something of value to offer, and you should be compensated for it.” While it may seem easy, it can be more difficult than it seems to turn down opportunities if you don’t have clear and consistent income coming in. That’s why it’s important to always have an understanding of your business finances. I recommend following the Profit First Method, which has revolutionized the way I pay myself and how I operate my business accounts. You can read more about Profit First on my other business website “How to Rock Your Finances As a Girl Boss“.Know your worth. You probably have bills to pay so don't accept just any offer because it's more than $0. You have something of value to offer, and you should be compensated for it. -TheFrugalFellow Click To Tweet
Build Your Online Presence
As a freelancer, people might not always know about your services and business. That’s why it’s important to build a presence online for you to create the “like, know, and trust” factor. This is something that does not always come naturally for entrepreneurs and takes time to create using social media, in-person networking events, and just plain hard work. Bethany, a freelance graphic and web designer says, “As a freelancer people hire your work and YOU. Just because there is a screen doesn’t mean you can’t build your presence.” Bethany writes about personal finance, freelance work, and frugal travel at HisandHerFi.As a freelancer people hire your work and YOU. Just because there is a screen doesn’t mean you can’t build your presence. @herandhisfi Click To Tweet
Track Your Time
As you build your online business, you might find that you’ll spend more time you think on projects. That’s why it’s important to track your time. I love using Clockify. Clockify helps me save more time by helping me see which projects are giving me the most amount of income and what time isn’t profitable. And, it helps me to understand my efficiency better by seeing where my time went and if it was profitable. I believe that time can sometimes mean money. Some things that have helped me on my freelancing journey, especially when it comes to blog writing and podcasting is Otter.ai. Otter helps me to transcribe my audio files and helps me write faster. You can get a 1-month premium pass to help you make the most use of your time with my special link.
Be Open To Different Kinds of Freelance Work