Why Freelancing on the Side Will Set You Free

spa cupcakes

Spa themed cupcakes!

Are you sick of your current job? Do you want to move on to something new?

Well I’m not here to tell you to quit your job. Sorry. I’m a bit more realistic than that. I’m going to suggest a different idea. I want you to start freelancing on the side. I want you to use your spare time to increase your income and to change your life forever. I spent far too much time chasing passive income and other random strategies.

I never really took the time to actually get down to the work. I would just follow advice on starting a million dollar business through passive income. This never worked out for me. Let’s start off with an important question… Why will freelancing on the side set you free? By testing out business ideas in your spare time you’ll be able to figure out if you have a chance of branching out on your own.

I find it to be absolutely careless advice to suggest to someone that they just quit their job and “follow their passions.” Screw that. You have bills to pay and you don’t want to end up poor. You don’t want to curse some blogger dude because they told you to quit and now you’re homeless (okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme). I have far too many friends that are convinced that you have to go all in to be successful. This is false because you just have too much to lose and you can lose out on valuable time making money and working in your field.

When you freelance on the side you’ll not only get to test out your ideas with comfort, but you’ll also be able to build up your savings/pay down your debt. This is critical because if you have debt (student loans, mortgage, or consumer debt), you still have to cover your payments. You can set yourself free by working your day job and freelancing on the side until you’re debt free and in a position to quit your job.

You can also build up your savings account to the point that you can take some risks and invest some money. I didn’t quit my job because I wanted to build up my savings. I was able to work long hours online and at my job. In the end I saved $25,000 and now I’m free to do whatever I want. Now it’s time to go into more detail. How can you actually start freelancing? What do you need to start freelancing right now? Let’s look at the magic formula for freelancing:

A service that you offer.

What work can you do for money? What service can you provide? I always used to get stuck on this point. I knew that I wanted to help people and make money. I just never knew what service I would actually offer. This is a typical problem for beginners. This is where you stop dreaming and take action. A few points to consider on the freelancing service that you’ll offer:

  1. What have others asked you for help with?
  2. Are people willing to pay you to gain your expertise on a topic?
  3. Is there anyone else out there offering a similar service (hint: competition is a good thing)?
Trust me, you can easily think of a freelancing service to provide in your free time. If I can do it, so can you![Mich] My wife fits this section perfectly. She loves to dress up cupcakes for our twin’s birthday. In the past few years, she has been receiving offers annually from parents to provide the cupcake decoration for their kid’s birthdays. I finally pushed her to try it out on the web. I built a website for her where she can sell cupcake decorations like cupcake wrappers and toppers. This is her opportunity to test it out and she’s still in  her part time job!

Potential customers.

Who will you sell your services to? You need to sit down and decide who you want to market your services to. I want you to be specific and target more than just “people” or “dudes.” I used to always try to market my services to everyone. This is a huge mistake because I learned the hard way that “everyone” isn’t a target market by any means. Below are a few questions you need to answer as you decide on who you’ll market your freelancing services to:

  • Who can I relate to?
  • What’s the number one problem that I can solve for (blank) person?
  • How will my freelancing work help real people?
  • How will my potential customers find me?

Once you can answer those questions, you’ll be on the right path to making money through freelancing. I recently helped a buddy out with his guitar-teaching business. He was too general. He was targeting everyone. It wasn’t working out. He finally decided to focus in on kids and his business grew. The parents pay for his services and the kids are now forced to come.

A way to get paid.

How will you collect your money? This is usually the easy (and fun) part. If you do online work, Paypal is the standard. Everyone I’ve ever done business with has Paypal. If you perform a service in person, you can do cash, checks, or even money transfers. All that matters is that you make it clear how you’ll be collecting the money in exchange for your services. That’s all that you need to increase the amount of money that you have coming in on the side. Freelancing is the greatest thing to happen to me because it gave me the confidence boost that I needed. I now know that others care about what I have to say and are willing to pay me for my work.

“Why Freelancing on the Side Will Set You Free” was included in the following carnivals:

Carnival of MoneyPros at Master the Art of Saving
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at Hurricanes, Panties 
Yakezie Carnival at Family Money Values

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  1. says

    This is pretty much what I’m doing! Freelancing on the side creates a nice side income while also being able to keep the benefits that I earn from my main job.

    • says

      It also keeps the freelancing fun rather than turn it into pressure to make money if you left your job!

  2. says

    I like the idea of a side gig too. There’s one gigantic reason, besides those you describe, why going ‘cold turkey’ on paid employment in favor of full-time self-employment is generally a poor idea: Health insurance.

    Before you quit a job with health insurance benefits, price a private sector health insurance policy. Then understand the premium will increase by 5-10% per year, at least. Then know that if you become a big cost to the insurer (i.e., someone in your family needs a lot of medical care), private detectives will be scrutinizing your application to find where you “lied” so the company can deny your benefits claim. You’ll suddenly appreciate your employer’s health insurance benefit far more!

    • says

      That’s a very good point Kurt, one has to have a decent income in order to afford private health insurance in the first place.

  3. says

    Freelancing is a great way to essentially test drive a potential career or entrepreneurial venture. Think of it as market research, trying to understand what the market will bear – and what it thinks of you. To Kurt’s point, health insurance is such a big benefit that people should really think about carefully.

  4. says

    When you set something up where you can pull in money on the side, it is always a great thing. Not only do you get the mental edge of knowing you created something that people value, but it’s another source of income. If the past few years have taught us anything it should be that we can’t depend on the companies/government to be there for us.

    • says

      any income pulled on the side is a plus, it also reduces stress of losing one’s job if it was to happen.

  5. Nick @ AYoungPro.com says

    Great breakdown! I definitely want to get into freelancing and this gave me some good ideas. Thanks!

  6. says

    Kurt’s right – the health benefit issue is still a biggie. Over time, I suspect the anomaly of one’s health insurance being tied to one’s job will gradually fade, and that can only help the economy as more and more personal creativity and energy gets released.

  7. Felix Lee says

    I started freelancing when I was still working for a BPO company. I have so much spare time that I find it really wasteful if I just spend it watching movie or merely doing nothing. Too good I ended up getting a good job as a freelance writer and I am enjoying it a lot while earning an extra income.

  8. says

    Freelance is good as long as you have a back up plan. I mean don’t quit your current job hastily. Remember that although it has its benefits, it is not a stable job. Just know the risks you are taking.

  9. says

    If you realize freelancing is like a bonus then it’s fine. I used to rely on my freelancing and then had to switch thinking on slow time of the year.

  10. says

    In a society that’s changing the way it lives, works and earns income, freelancing is the perfect strategy to make the transition from the industrial revolution. Traditional income sources have been chaing in fundamental ways many people don’t realize, because it’s happening so slowly. Check out this chart http://bit.ly/smalller

    The new money is in startups, which increasingly are in areas needing freelancers…