How to turn your side hustle into a full time freelance gig

People Per Hour has seen a sign-up increase of 37% over the last year, showing the pandemic has encouraged quite a lot of us to start a side hustle. Being stuck at home and re-evaluating career goals naturally means many people are adding to their 9-5 by working on their other skills in their downtime. AND they're getting paid for them.

That side hustle could stay a side hustle, but you could also make it your full-time income if you want to. This is how to do it confidently.

Get serious about your reputation

People Per Hour suggest aspiring freelancers focus on carving out a client base and keeping them really happy. In other words, 'start small'. You need to build the foundations of your freelance business if it's going to really take off. That means developing your portfolio, securing referrals from existing clients, and adding to your experience gradually every month. The more you do the better you'll get.

On sites like People Per Hour, reviews are really important and can make the difference between your proposal being accepted or completely ignored, so building your profile is essential. If you're not working on freelance sites, positive comments and thank yous are still massively important for both your online presence and your self belief.

Start tracking your accounts ASAP

The major worry for anyone working for themselves is, unsurprisingly, will I be able to afford to live if I do this? If you have a full, educated view of your finances you'll be able to spot what's sustainable, what's not, and make a solid decision about how you can make this a full-time living.

Its not quite as simple as multiplying your rate by hours in the day/days in the week. Look back at your side hustle earnings and do a conservative estimate for how this could increase if you were working on it full-time. Obviously this is still just an estimate, but it shows you if your freelance business could be worth it or not.

Have your eyes open

Pretty much everyone who's started their own business, whether it turns into a massive global enterprise or remains a small solo success, will have had some really hard days, weeks, and months. It's not always smooth sailing.

If you've had a really good experience with your side hustle so far, and don't see how it could possibly go wrong, it's a good idea to keep working at it part-time and get some more experience of freelance life (and all the tough things that come with it) before you jump in permanently. When you've coped with a client that refuses to pay, a dry period, no sick pay, losing clients, and anything else that makes you feel a bit stressed, you'll know how well you deal with it. This is the best freelance education you can get.

List what you'll gain AND lose

Becoming a full time freelancer is full of benefits. Independence, working when and where you want, potentially earning a lot more than you would full-time, being your own boss...

Before you get too excited, full-time staff often get a few benefits of their own. Sick pay, paid holiday, a regular income that's always reliably the same, and quite a lot of security are the ones that spring to mind. If you don't have those things right now then it's not too tricky a choice, but if your current full-time work has a lot of these benefits, consider whether it will be worth parting with them.

Identify what's stopping you from just doing it

Everyone has to take the leap and leave their full-time job at some point. It's a very scary thought but committing as much time as possible to your freelance business is often the only way to grow it.

What's stopping you? Don't feel experienced enough yet? Straight up fear of failure? Whatever it is, identifying it is the first step towards weighing it up, understanding it, and making the right decision for you. Maybe it isn't the right time. Maybe it is and you just can't see it yet...

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