In 2004, when I started blogging, I had no idea that it would become my full time work in 2007. In retrospect, it’s not a huge shock – I worked in marketing and public relations for years, and most folks in that industry today have a strong knowledge of blogging and social media out of necessity.
When I quit my nice, safe, full time gig in 2007, I really had not a clue about running my own business. I didn’t have a plan, in any way, shape, or form. My husband had been full-time freelancer for several years already, so I thought I pretty much knew how it was done.
Oh boy. Was I an IDIOT. After all, what could go wrong in a household with little savings, two incomes based on freelance work, and oh, a little thing like a complete and utter economic collapse?
In my defense, the first year I worked from home what I really had was a work-from-home job. I was guaranteed a paycheck every two weeks that was slightly more than my full time income so it seemed like an easy fit. And it was, for a year, until the person that hired me left and the company was sold, and suddenly the 35-hour-a-week writing gig I had was a pay-by-the-article job and I was having to hunt for additional clients. Luckily, after facing a personal near economic collapse, things turned around this year at last, and I’m now doing quite well.
So what changed? It was simple, really. Last year I finally sat down and began thinking about things like goals and aspirations, and set about creating a plan to make them happen. In the process, I also began shedding the things I no longer wanted to do; I was writing a lot of SEO copy, and it may have paid the bills, but it was soul-crushing work. Giving it up was scary but was the smart thing to do. But today I have solid goals, firm plans, and a nice bottom line.
Are you considering going into business for yourself? Here are a few tips that I really wish I’d been told.
1. Have an Emergency Fund. Ideally, I would suggest having at least three months worth of expenses in savings MINIMUM before you go into business. This will help you weather long periods between paychecks. After the economy slowed down, my clients went from being fast pay to sloooooooow pay and sometimes we went two whole months without either of us getting paid.
2. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Not only did this help me find clients, it also gave me access to their group health insurance, and as a person chock-full of pre-existing conditions, this helped immensely.
3. Set Goals for the year, three years, and five years. I honestly simply thought, “I want to be home with my baby!” and that was it. Not smart.
4. Network network network. One of my saving graces these last few years has been my membership in my local Social Media Club (and now I’m actually on the board). The contacts I’ve made there, the people it has given me access to, and the knowledge that has been shared has made a tremendous difference in both my skills and my bottom line.
5. Divide your time. Make sure that you set aside a certain amount of time each week for cultivating new clients. I often rested on my laurels, so to speak, and had no back up plans when clients vanished.