2015 was an eventful year! Jenn quit her job and we launched The Spare Room Project. Lucas got a full-time job and we moved. Not to mention all of the little things in between! We wanted to share the highlights and the growth, to encourage other creative entrepreneurs and bloggers. The three Big Lessons we learned were how to quit your day job, how to make your own paycheck, and how to create while working a 9-5. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it!
Lesson 1: How to Quit Your Day Job
It is possible! While it was the scariest thing we’ve done so far, it was also one of the best experiences we’ve had. God provided for us in ways that we never would have expected, and it gave us the time and drive to get things done. Neither of us had jobs from February through the end of July, yet we were always able to pay our bills. When you don’t have a steady income, you end up with a lot of hustle!
If you’re in a dead-end job, or a job that you can’t stand, take heart! It IS possible to quit. Here are some tips:
Look at your finances
It’s wise to have a few months’ worth of bills set aside before you take this step. If you aren’t in that place yet, make a budget that will get you there. It may mean cutting back on the fun stuff. It could mean taking on extra work for a time, like a seasonal job or freelance work. Whatever it is, it’s probably going to hurt. But no pain, no gain! It’ll be worth it in the end, we promise.
Immediacy means “direct and instant involvement with something, giving rise to a sense of urgency or excitement.” You need to find reasons to get excited and motivated!
A great visual motivator is a dream board. So create a dream board of things you get to do when you quit! This could be clippings of dream vacation spots to work from or save up for. It could be quotes that inspire you. It could be a picture of that adorable Aussie that you’ll finally have time for when you have no commute!
When you get discouraged, remind yourself why you’re pushing so hard. Look at your dream board and focus on one of those items. Fix that image in your mind while you’re working. Remember it when you tell yourself “No” to that thing you want, for the umpteenth time. Fight for those dreams!
Having someone in it with you is always a game changer. Whether it’s your partner or just a devoted friend or family member, get someone on your side! Set a deadline for your big day and ask them to hold you to it. Ask them to check on you week by week to make sure you’re on track for your goal. Having a deadline and someone watching you will make such a difference.
Just take the leap!
Just like getting married or having kids, no one ever feels truly ready. At some point, you have to just quit. It’s going to be scary. It’s going to be hard. But it’s also going to be worth it! Because then you can do a happy dance.
Lesson 2: How to Make Your Own Paycheck
Once you’ve quit your day job, you’re going to need some money coming back in. When Jenn quit her job, we didn’t have a single job between us. That meant we had to get creative. Here’s a few of the ways we made it work:
$50 might not seem like a lot… until you have $0. If a small gig comes your way, take it! If you’re still working your old day job, this is a great way to bolster your savings and build up repeat clients. Small gigs can lead to bigger ones, which can lead to steadier income.
Even if it seems too small, don’t pass it up. That person who will pay you $20 to mow their lawn or shovel the snow off their driveway? Their brother may need a freelancer exactly like you. Use your new-found time to meet new people, learn new skills, and try new jobs. Be open about your new line of work with everyone you meet; take the initiative to tell them what you do and why you’re doing it. You never know when you’ll meet your next client!
Utilize your network
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this! Even if you’re “sure” no one you know needs your services, don’t let that stop you. Start spreading the word that you’re striking out on your own. People who you never expected will come out of the woodwork.
Even if you’re right and no one in your immediate circle needs your services, don’t stop there. Reach out to friends of friends, and their friends too. Ask your network to start telling others about you. Make it easy for them: Give them Click-To-Tweets, websites to Pin and share on Facebook, business cards, anything that lets them spread the word about what you’re doing in a tangible way.
Better yet, make a referral program. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Even 10% can be enough of a motivator for someone who already wants to see you succeed. You could also offer a points program – 100 points = $1 towards a new necklace or earrings if you’re a jewelry designer, for example. Get creative and make the sky the limit!
Make sure that every time a client is referred to you, thank the person who sent them. Something as simple as a quick handwritten note can have a big impact on your partner! Make sure you treat that referral like royalty, too.
Don’t give up!
It may take a little while to get off the ground. That’s one of the reasons it’s a good idea to start small, while you’re still at your day job. Find yourself a cheerleader and keep plugging away, even when it gets tough.
But then KEEP CALM AND DREAM ON.
Lesson 3: Creating While Working
Working a day job, even one you love, can make it difficult to be creative. When you come home, you may want to just collapse on the couch and turn on Netflix. But there are ways to overcome that lethargy.
Decide what you really want to be doing. Do you want to finish an entire season of your favorite show in a week, or do you want to build that fort your kids have been asking for? Would you rather relax for another hour, or write the novel you always say you could? You only have time for so many achievements in your life; make sure you can be proud of the ones you accomplished. Whatever you decide, make sure to make it a habit!
Once you’ve prioritized, you need to make time for those priorities. Figure out when your most creative times are. For some people, that will be right after they get up; others right before they go to bed.
Depending on when your creative times are, you may find that you need to go to bed later and get up a little later. This could mean prepping things after you create but before you go to bed, so that you can run out the door in the morning. If you’re an early bird, it may mean getting up an hour earlier to create. Whatever it is, do it! It will be worth it.
Now that you know when you’ll be creating, you need to find where. Most people find it easiest to create in a dedicated creative space. You need to be able to walk away and be certain your work will be there when you get back. This also gives you a place where your family and friends know not to disturb you. With fewer distractions, it will be easier to create.
So what are you waiting for?! Get out there and do it!