Diana Kelly Levey

6 Money Decisions to Make Before Going Full-Time Freelance

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November 20, 2018

I’d love for you to be able to make it as a full-time freelance writer, but before you take the leap and tell you’re entire office “I’m out,” consider these factors before quitting your full-time job to become a freelance writer.

How much do you love writing?

Are you willing to write all day, every day or at least four to six hours a day. Try it out on the weekends to see whether you can really do this full-time and whether you actually want to. In addition to writing for freelance clients, I do freelance editing, digital consulting, coaching freelance students, and work with a variety of clients to keep things interesting. Here’s how to freelance when you have a full-time job.

Do you have a solid client base?

Having at least an “anchor client” (one you have steady work from each month and a retainer or money you can steadily count on) is so important for full-time freelancers. These clients are cost-effective and will probably help you sleep better at night knowing you have some income coming in each month. If you’re only getting a few assignments ad hoc throughout the month from a number of clients and they don’t add up to at least half of your full-time job’s take-home pay, I wouldn’t suggest leaving your primary position just yet. Build up clients, create a website portfolio, improve your LinkedIn profile and consider whether the company you work for now could eventually become a client. That’s one way a lot of freelancers get work after they quit. Ask yourself these questions before freelancing full time.

Does your company have a 401k match?

Hopefully, you’re putting money away in your retirement fund every pay period. Are you going to be able to do this when you’re the only one responsible for money going into those accounts? If you’re smart, and you’re building up your clientele and savings while you consider becoming a full-time freelancer, you should be putting away enough money so you receive your company’s match. It’s free money…and as far as I’ve come across, there hasn’t been a company I’ve consulted for that offered me anything like that since I’ve been working for myself. Here’s how to invest in yourself without spending a ton of money.

Are you out of debt?

I’d suggest paying down as much debt as possible before embarking on a full-time freelance career. The less bills you have to pay while you’re getting started, the better off you’ll be and less stressed.

Have you determined your healthcare costs?

This is one of the biggest questions freelancers face. I can’t tell you what’s best for you, but consider how your health is and the types of services you’ll need. I was a part of the national network, Freelancer’s Union, while freelancing full-time for five years in New York City. I had the most basic plan and paid $400-450/month out of pocket for health insurance I barely used. That plan also had a high deductible so I often had copays and additional expenses that would add up after a doctor’s visit. I wrote the health insurance off on my taxes with the help of an accountant (I’m not an accountant so ask your tax professional about tax breaks), but still, that was a lot of money to spend every month for a limited network of doctors and I’m a young, healthy person.

How much is in your savings account?

I talked to several financial experts for a real estate article on ApartmentTherapy.com and they recommended most people have three to six months’ of an emergency fund in place before buying a home. Even if you’re not making that kind of purchase, most experts recommend a six-month cushion if you work for yourself. Tally up all of your monthly bills and expenses, multiply that by five or six and that’s the amount you should just have set aside as your emergency fund. I’d recommend having savings beyond that if you’re quitting your job to go freelance.

Be prepared to handle slow times as a freelancer with this advice. 


Considering becoming a freelancer? Enroll in my freelance writing online course TODAY and learn how to make six figures as a freelance writer.

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