Don’t let your fate rest in one person’s hands.

A recent study in the U.K. showed that kids no longer aspire to be singers, actors or athletes. They’d rather be business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Well, that’s just dandy. No, it really is.

Sure, I wanted to grow up to be Madonna or even Stevie Nicks. But, for many reasons (obvious and not so obvious) that was never going to work out. I got into business — much to the relief of my parents. That worked out pretty well. I made it to middle-management and life was easy.

Then, I got the bug!

I couldn’t work for someone else any longer, wanted to do my own thing, and I knew what I wanted to do. Then, life wasn’t so easy. The life of an entrepreneur is a roller coaster. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world because now that I’ve survived the good, the bad and the ugly, it’s excellent.

One of the reasons my business is good to me is that I’m no longer reliant on one stream of income. The second and better reason is I’m no longer reliant on one person for my income. Finally, there’s diversity in what I do. Today, alone, I’m working on three of the incomes streams I mention below. If I wanted to, I could choose to do none of them.

To me, that speaks to the power when you diversify your income streams if you want to be an entrepreneur today. Here are my recommendations for you to consider and how I’m using (most of) them.

1. Monetize your blog.

You already know that I want you to become a blogger. I want everyone to become a blogger. I think blogs are as important as resumes. Plus, they can create the opportunity for you to go solo. There are many benefits to having your blog, some of which I’ll include in the following.

One of the easiest ways to make money from blogging is to monetize your blog. Google Ad Sense and Amazon Affiliate Links are probably the two most popular and accessible ways to monetize your blog. There are other companies you can you, but these are the only two I’ve used, so I don’t want to mention them.

When I first started blogging, we used Google Ad Sense that included a banner ad at the top and bottom of our blog and a square ad on the right rail of our blog. Choosing specific parameters, I permitted Google to rotate ads carousel-style on my blog.

Because you make money when people who visit your blog click on these ads, the more traffic you have, the better your return on your investment (ROI). Over time Google Ad Sense and their competition have decreased in their ROI, but they’re still an easy way to make money when you start blogging.

I use Amazon Affiliates for two reasons. The first is I have more control of what I promote on my blog. I don’t run the risk of advertising the vacuum cleaner of the week to my audience who has no interest in vacuum cleaners.

On top of that, I don’t have unrelated banner and square ads taking up real estate on my blog. Amazon Affiliate links are a better way than Google Ad Sense to make money in our experience. We have a blogger friend whose whole business is based on Amazon Affiliate Links.

2. Add affiliate marketing to your blog.

The most lucrative marketing strategy, at least for me, is affiliate marketing. Affiliating marketing is when you establish a relationship with a company to promote or sell their product on your blog.

The reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is two-fold. First, the affiliate payouts are better — at least for the companies I partner. My blog is about personal finance for the LGBTQ community, and all my affiliates are finance related.

The second reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is because I only affiliate with partners that can serve my niche. For example, when I talk about the benefits of refinancing a loan, I can link directly to an affiliate of mine that does that. My readers don’t see an ad for the vacuum cleaner of the week when I’m helping them lower their interest rates.

Another friend of mine has a course about making money with affiliate marketing. If this is something you want to learn, check it out.

3. Start freelance writing.

Freelance writing has been good to me, but it took me a while to earn credentials to become a freelance writer. I’m glad about that. Of course, I wanted to get paid for my writing the first day I started blogging. When I look back on my first blog articles, though, I recognize that they’re horrible.

Blogging for myself for years helped me find my voice and style — learn more about being a better writer. That time was valuable.

When you’re ready to write for others, it’s worth it. It’s helpful, though not necessary, to find clients in the niche you’ve established for yourself on your blog. I’ve seen it’s easier to sell yourself because your portfolio aligns with your potential client’s needs.

That said, I write for Adulting, which isn’t exclusively about personal finance. It’s been fun and worthwhile for me.

Another friend of mine has a course that teaches you how to become a freelance writer, even making it your primary income stream. If this interests you, I highly recommend her course.

4. Connect with brands for brand partnerships.

Brand partnerships are fun! I’ve done everything from simply attending an event to being part of a game show.

As your following grows on your blog, and as your email list gets bigger, and as your social media presence grows, you’ll become an “influencer.”

Fancy, huh?

Simply advertising on television and radio aren’t marketing strategies anymore. Brands partner with people or other businesses that have a following to generate interest and excitement in their products and services.

For this income stream, Twitter has been invaluable. Twitter’s struggling, and many think Twitter’s dead, but for me, it’s been great because it’s the primary way that I’ve been able to connect with top brands in my niche.

Again, I’ve only partnered with brands I believe in, and that align with my business’s mission. I don’t want to bring my readers to an event where they’ll be sold something that will sabotage their goals and our relationship.

As my social media following has grown, I’m having discussions with brands that aren’t in my niche but with whom there could be a symbiotic relationship.

5. Become a public speaker.

Public speaking is also fun after the nauseous pit in your stomach goes away, at least for me. Now that I’ve overcome that feeling, public speaking has been good to me.

Having a voice on your blog makes getting into public speaking because people and businesses want to know what you have to say before they hire you to say it. Again, having a social media following helps, too. Companies like it when you can attract an audience to an event.

Public speaking can be very lucrative once you’re even slightly established. If you get into public speaking, you’ll do some gigs for free. Just like with your first articles, you’ll eventually feel that not getting paid for your first public speaking gigs is a good thing.

Once you’ve gotten better at the craft, the trajectory to earn good money is slightly less than vertical. An added perk with public speaking in cities where you don’t live is that the people and businesses that hire you expect to pay for your travel, hotel, and some food.

Another friend of mine has a public speaking course, that’s all about how to get into the public speaking space. It’s the course I use and some of his templates I still use today.

6. Become a podcaster.

Honestly, I fell into podcasting totally by accident. Thank heavens I did fall into it.

I love podcasting because it’s a wealth of information. I’m gay. My husband’s gay. Our platform is personal finance for the LGBTQ community. One might think that I know my community inside and out. But I don’t. There is so much that I don’t know — and my podcast helped me see that.

When I learn something new on my podcast, I research it and learn how my business can help. This new knowledge gives me content for future podcasts, freelancing writing, and articles for my blog that link to affiliates with solutions. See the cycle?

Podcasting has also been a good income stream for me. Some of my brand partnerships have happened in part because I’ve included my podcast as a selling feature with the partnership. Also, because brands want to connect with my niche, the LGBTQ community, brands have asked to sponsor my show.

7. Sell courses.

I’m creating my first course now. As you can see from all my recommendations above, many online entrepreneurs create courses on topics they’re capable of teaching. Even before you start doing any of the above, you may already be an expert in something you can teach.

That’s great! Don’t wait. Create your course. Make your course your main platform.

Is it easier to sell your course after you’ve generated a steady stream of traffic to your site and after you have a substantial social media following? Yes.

Is that the only path? No.

I have another friend/colleague, who established her course as her platform and her blog traffic and social media following followed.

Being creative with marketing your course may make my above recommendations easier or unnecessary.

8. Be a social media manager.

My next two recommendations aren’t income streams for me, but I know many people for whom they are.

Social media is essential for bloggers. It can be a full-time job itself. In fact, for many bloggers, it is. That’s why they hire out their social media to social media managers. As your business, brand and social media following grow, it’s harder to stay engaged with your social media followers personally. Your blog traffic and your social media following are your bread and butter. Don’t dismiss it.

The good thing about becoming a social media manager is that if you like (or are already good with) one or more social media platforms, research on YouTube and with podcasts how to become a social media manager for someone else, and you can make yourself a nice income.

As with anything, you may need to start at the bottom of the income ladder, but it won’t be long before you can make this a part of your income stream.

9. Help others by becoming a virtual assistant.

Though I haven’t been a virtual assistant, I desperately need one. The job description for a virtual assistant is broad, and you can define it on your terms. Virtual assistants:

• Manage emails
• Manage calendars
• Manage social media
• Help with editing
• Website/blog design
• Research
• Act as personal assistants
• Other random items

What and how much service you provide will help determine how much you charge, commensurate with experience. If you need, start out simple and small. As time goes on, add more skills to your resume and increase your prices.

The most significant selling point of being a virtual assistant, in addition to the income stream, is that you virtually assist from literally anywhere in the world. It’s in the job title. Want to work from Idaho Falls? Do it. Want to work from a beach in the Caribbean? The option is yours.

These are just nine ways you can diversify income streams. They’re not the only ways. Hopefully, these nine will get your entrepreneur brain churning on all the ways you can make money in addition to working for your boss or working for yourself.

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You have something to share. And it just might make you money.

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Show Notes

Today, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Monica Louie to talk about it can change your life to be your own boss, and how to build up the courage and strength to make the change. What does it take to leave the everyday world of working behind and make it on your own?

We’ll take a look at Monica’s journey, and what you can do to be your own boss. Plus, Harlan and Miranda share a little bit about their own journeys as well.

If you want to conquer Facebook Ads, take a look at Flourish with Facebook Ads, Monica’s new course. Monica helps Adulting.tv with our own advertising, which has been very successful.

Monica Louie is a Facebook ads coach and strategist who helps ambitious online entrepreneurs grow their impact and their profits with the power of Facebook ads. She has worked on more than 100 Facebook ad campaigns, including several traffic campaigns with cost per click as low as $0.01 and conversion campaigns with cost per result as low as $0.30. Her online journey began in 2015 when she shared how her family paid off $120,000 of debt in two years on a single, middle-class income. When she’s not playing in the Power Editor, she can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, and two kids.

https://www.facebook.com/FlourishwithMonica/
https://twitter.com/MonicaRLouie
https://www.monicalouie.com/
https://flourishwithfbads.com

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Being a solopreneur is pretty great. Except when it’s not.

We hear a lot about starting a business online and becoming your own boss. In fact, this trend is so prevalent now that it’s got its own term: solopreneur.

Most of the time, I love working from home. I also making money (mostly) on my terms. Before you decide that being a solopreneur is the move for you, here are some of the realities involved.

You set your own schedule.

One of my favorite things about being on my own is the fact that I get to set my own schedule. Since I started working for a company as a W-2 employee again there are a few more restrictions, but I work from home and still get to set my own schedule much of the time.

As a solopreneur, you have freedom and flexibility to work when you want — and from where you want. It’s freedom, and one of the things I treasure most.

Sometimes you have to work even when you don’t want to.

Ok, this is true whether you have a real job or whether you’re a solopreneur. You just have to suck it up and work sometimes.

But when you have a real job, the assumption is that you can clock out at some point and take a break. When you have a business, that’s not always the case. You might be up late working, even if you want to sleep. I can’t tell you how often I work on the weekend.

You have to force yourself to work sometimes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do. And sometimes, especially at first, you find yourself working more than you ever did while holding down a regular job.

Get ready for the self-employment tax.

One thing you don’t think about when you’re working for The Man is that your company is paying half your payroll taxes. When you’re working for yourself, you pay both parts of payroll taxes.

It’s important to be prepared. You could see a higher tax bill when you quit your job, just because you no longer have an employer subsidizing part of your taxes.

Set aside money each month to go toward taxes. I like to set aside about a third of my monthly income to go toward taxes (you might feel more comfortable adjusting this amount). And remember: you should pay quarterly to reduce the chance of problems with the IRS. Plan ahead of time to avoid money problems down the road.

Sometimes it feels like you have several bosses.

Be your own boss! You’re totally in charge!

The reality for many solopreneurs is that it can feel like you’ve got multiple bosses. There are days when I’m wrestling with multiple deadlines for different clients. I definitely don’t feel like I’m my own boss in those situations!

For freelancers, it’s common to feel as though you have more than one boss. The bright side, though, is that you have the chance to fire an unreasonable client down the road when you start seeing success.

Making money online takes more than just setting up a website.

Online entrepreneurs make it look so easy. Just set up your website and boom. The money rolls in.

But does it, really?

Sure. After you’ve put in the work. And it can take years to find success with your website or store. It can happen faster, of course, but it takes work. You need to market your website, services, and products — just like any other business.

You need a plan. You need to do the work. And you need to be realistic. If you build it, they aren’t guaranteed to come. You have to entice them.

It can get lonely cooped up in your home office.

I love working from home. And part of the reason I started doing the online thing was to avoid having to people on a regular basis.

But even introverts get lonely. We need to talk to people sometimes, too. As a solopreneur, though, that human contact might not be as frequent as you’d like.

You can ease the pain a bit by heading to a co-working space or a coffee shop. Meetups, conferences, and video calls can also help. Plus, if you have a life partner who works from home, that can provide you with support as well. Of course, having your life partner at home all the time with you can have its own drawbacks.

Your friends and family just don’t get what you do.

Working online as a solopreneur is hard to explain to friends and family. I’ve got people assuming I can just drop everything and do things for them left and right.

And my IRL acquaintances think what I do is a quaint hobby. Um, no, I support my family.

Trying to explain what I do to my grandma? She didn’t think I’d “made it” until she actually saw my name in the newspaper.

Luckily, as the internet becomes an increasingly acceptable way to make a living, and as the gig economy becomes a Thing, it’s easier to explain what I do. But sometimes it can be truly maddening.

It’s possible to go to the spa on Thursday.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a flexible schedule?

This is my favorite reality of being a solopreneur. I love going to the spa on Thursday. I can almost always get an appointment, there aren’t many people there, and I can truly relax while my son is at school. It’s perfect.

Maybe the spa isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s golf. Or going to lunch with a friend. Perhaps you just want to go for a hike or play paintball. Whatever it is, go wild.

Just realize that you might have to make up for it by working on Sunday afternoon.

All your friends are working when you want to play.

It’s nice that you can go to a matinee movie on Wednesday afternoon. But you better like going alone. Because your friends with real jobs are all working.

This is a tough reality for many solopreneurs. They’re so excited that they can set a schedule to their liking, but what happens when everyone else is still on the 9-to-5 grind?

I get around it by meeting friends for lunch near their workplaces so we can enjoy a little time together. You can also find other friends to do things with, or even learn to be your own best friend.

You are responsible for your success.

This is the biggest, scariest, harshest reality of being a solopreneur. It’s also the most liberating aspect of being out there on your own. The fact that you are totally in charge of your own success is a huge deal — and it can make you or break you.

I love thinking that I can chart my own course. Even if you are still working your real job, and your solopreneurship is mostly in the side hustle stage right now, you are still taking control of your future success.

To me, even though there are hard realities associated with doing what I do, the biggest reality is also the most encouraging reality.

Are you a solopreneur? Tell us your story in the #Adulting community on Facebook

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Your blog is great but no one knows it. People need to know about your work. Get your social media game up.

This blogger makes $111,000 a month. This guy makes $17 million a year. She makes a good six-figures a month.

Blogging is fun and a great way to make money if you do it right, but the path from $0, or from being in the red because of start-up costs, to three figures per month can be elusive.

What should a new blogger consider to go from red, or flat, to black? A critical component of a blogging strategy is social media strategy.

The blogosphere is part of the virtual world. Therefore, it’s important to use virtual marketing in a way that lets the virtual world know you exist and how you help your readers.

As personal finance bloggers who talk to the LGBT community, what’s worked for us and the bloggers above have been different. Based on your blog’s focus, personality, and audience, you will also need to develop a unique social media plan.

You may need to nuance what I write below to better target your demographic. But, this will give you some direction from my personal experience.

Social media is plain marketing.

At its simplest, a social media strategy is just marketing. It’s different (but not much different) than when businesses pay for advertisements on the radio or television.

But, this is why I love the new gig-economy so much – the barrier to start a business today is so much lower than in the past. Unlike the old economy when you needed a lot of money to advertise on the radio and television, which could take all your revenue or savings, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into advertising today. You can start with a few advertising dollars and then scale up as your business grows.

Besides cost, compared to traditional advertising, another difference lies is in the name. Social media lets you be social with your readers, listeners, followers, or whatever you call the people you connect with and serve. The ability to engage with your audience is HUGE. You can talk one-on-one with them. You can follow them on social media, as they follow you, and it’s not creepy.

Engaging on social media is great because it lets you learn about your audience, how they talk and what they need. Learning about your audience helps you create the content, products, and services they need.

Rather than investing thousands of dollars in market research about a product or service you want to provide, a simple poll on Facebook or Twitter with an $100 Amazon gift card is all you need.

So, what social media strategies do you need? That depends on who you are, what you blog about, and where your audience is.

No matter what, you probably need to be on Facebook.

There are two gigantic players in the virtual world and no matter your feelings towards them, you need to learn to live and work with them. They are Google and Facebook.

To work with Google, you’ll need to learn or hire someone who is good with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this article, we’ll focus on Facebook.

Yes, there are reports that Facebook usage is down and even lower for younger people, but to some extent, everyone is on Facebook. My 77-year-old mother and father just joined Facebook this summer. While they still don’t get it, they’re on Facebook, and they’re at least stalking people.

To promote your blog on Facebook, you’ll want to create a business page. For many reasons, I’d advise against mixing your blogger profile on your personal profile. However, the first people who will follow your business page will be your friends, family and colleagues. So, don’t be afraid to invite them from your business page to like your business page.

It is, however, okay to share some of your personal life on your business page. Personal updates as they relate to your blog topic are significant. The occasional quirky or non-blog topic related updates are engaging. Being too off topic too often, though, will confuse your audience.

For your lead image, so the virtual world knows you’re a human, it’s ideal to use your image. You can superimpose your blog or brand logo over your image, so the other humans learn your brand.

From your business page, hook and link to your latest blog article. Provide enough information on your Facebook post about your latest blog article that’ll capture your followers’ interest, then provide the link to your article followed by a period (.) so Facebook doesn’t make your link disappear.

Likewise, you’ll want to include an image on your Facebook post that ties with your latest blog article. The image size should be 940px x 492px and include zero to minimal verbiage. Facebook now owns Instagram and images with too many characters aren’t permitted on Instagram. Consequently, Facebook’s algorithms also won’t promote posts with images that have too much verbiage. This throttle will slow traffic to your blog.

Add Facebook Pixel to your blog. Just like social media allows you to engage with and learn more about your audience, Facebook Pixel lets you learn even more by capturing demographic information about who visits your blog. This additional information will help when you create ads with Facebook Audience to target your blog articles, products and services to specific audiences.

Every Facebook post on a business page can be boosted to reach a bigger audience. There’s a blue button at the bottom right of each post that says, creatively, “Boost.” This feature lets bloggers choose high-level demographic information (location, interests, age, etc.) to promote their post to particular audiences. This is ideal for getting started and requires a minimal investment of money.

That said, it seems that once Facebook learns a business page owner will pay to promote posts, it does whatever it can to incentivize more paid post promotions by that business owner. Keep that in mind before you start paying and make sure you’re prepared to pay more money more often.

Facebook Audience complements Facebook Pixel in that it lets bloggers drill deeper into the demographic information (income, the number of lines of credit, zip codes) of a blog’s audience captured by Facebook Pixel.

This level of information is helpful for all businesses, including bloggers, because you can target the right content, products, and services to the right audience, even more so than television advertising, and convert more traffic to your blog or sales of your goods and services.

Since you’re on Facebook, you may as well be on Instagram.

As I said, Facebook owns Instagram, and that’s why your images must be conducive to both social media platforms. Therefore, it makes sense to be on both. Consequently, there’s renewed interest in Instagram.

Instagram is where you share pictures and videos. This is especially ideal for food bloggers because who doesn’t love to look at or watch food? Instagram’s also good for fashion, photograph, and lifestyle bloggers. Essentially, any topic or niche with a good visual component is good for Instagram.

I’ll be honest, as a personal finance blogger, I’m still figuring out Instagram. Capturing the lifestyle component of being and living debt free seems to work. Also, appropriately using hashtags is important. For example, “#LGBT, #GayPride, #Homosexual” targets my images to people who use similar hashtags.

Twitter Is great for B2B.

Twitter is struggling to monetize itself, and it can feel like drinking from a fire hose, but Twitter is still relevant. A nightly news segment doesn’t go by that doesn’t include a tweet from some politician or celebrity, our current president notwithstanding.

For my business, Twitter has been great for connecting with other personal finance bloggers, investment firms, banks and financial publications, and influencers and celebrities. The relationships that I’ve built with investment companies and banks have been valuable to my business because they let me create brand ambassadorships that have made me good money.

Connecting with my fellow personal finance bloggers and celebrities has been icing on the dough. The connections I’ve made with financial publications have built my most consistent stream of income as a personal finance freelance writer.

Create a Twitter profile for your blog. Provide a brief profile description of who you are and what you do and, again, use a personal picture as the profile picture, so the Twitter-sphere knows you’re a human. Then, follow other bloggers in your niche, businesses you have an interest in and might be able to partner with, and other humans who you think may be interested in your blog.

For us, we frequently search “#LGBTQ or #gay” to find other LGBTQ people who may be interested in living successful financial lives.

After you follow people and businesses, engage with them. Like, comment on, and share their content. When you’ve engaged enough, occasionally tag them on a tweet that promotes a blog article of yours. Whether you tag anyone on a tweet or not, if you link to a blog article, write an enticing hook to your article in 140 characters or fewer.

Images, again, are necessary. Horizontal and clean are best.

Pinterest wants to be Google, so you may want to be on Pinterest.

Pinterest is investing a ton of money to be the alternative resource to Google and to appeal to men. Currently, most people on Pinterest are women. If you’re a women blogger blogging about any topic traditionally appealing to women: cooking, fashion, beauty products, home organization, etc., then you must be on Pinterest.

You may wonder why a gay personal finance blogger, who blogs for the LGBT community, has a social media presence on Pinterest. In 2015, Pinterest invested $15 million to connect specifically with men. Surely to holy Mother Nature, two to four percent of those men Pinterest reaches are gay.

Pinterest is uniquely more helpful to bloggers than any other social media platform because every other platform tries to keep its users on its platform. While the other social media platforms are essential in building an audience and traffic, the hoarding of traffic is a constant challenge for bloggers.

Pinterest, on the other hand, wants to lead its users to the content that’s most useful to its users with the long-game plan of being the alternative to, or replacing Google to its users.

Create a business account on Pinterest. Create up to ten boards that cover different topics related to your blog. This way people who visit your profile can see what you’re all about and then look and share your pins. For example, I have “Best of Debt Free Guys,” “Gay Travel,” “Money Podcasts” and more.

Describe who you are and what you do. Again, use a personal image on your profile. If you’re a straight man, it’s ideal if you include a picture with your wife or girlfriend and kids, if you have kids. The reason is that most Pinterest users are women and they typically think a Pinterest page by a man may not appeal to them. It’s branding, not sexism.

Post pins on your various boards as appropriate. Your pins should be “rich pins” – high-resolution images that relate and link to your blog article and are 1,000px x 2,000px.

This article includes enough information to start your social media strategy. One of the six-figure-a-month bloggers above has nailed the Pinterest strategy. So, click here, here, here and here to see what the pro is doing. That’s what I do.

Honorable mentions: LinkedIn and YouTube.

That’s my primary social media strategy. If your blog is more corporate-like or career-focused, you might try LinkedIn.

I dabble in YouTube videos but haven’t had the time to perfect them. I do okay in part because reading about money can be dry sometimes and videos let me inject even more personality than my writing. If you’re a beauty blogger/vlogger (video blogger), for example, YouTube may be the platform for you. Follow and learn from other vloggers.

Starting a social media strategy can feel daunting. I tried to start everything at once and failed several times. I’d recommend choosing one platform to start and then adding another platform once you get better with the previous platform. You may eventually learn that a platform you tried doesn’t work for you and that’s fine.

I’m glad I didn’t waste too much time on Periscope, even though when I saw U2 use it on their Denver visit, I was very tempted.

The important thing is that you start a blog because a blog is an excellent way to diversify your income stream or even replace the income stream you already have.

If you have a blog, how has social media – or the lack of a social media presence – affected your blog’s success? What is your favorite social media platform! Please share with us over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Freelancing is totally everything it’s cracked up to be. But it also comes with unexpected shittiness at times. Know what you’re getting into.

Just about everyone fantasizes about freelancing at some point.

When the daily grind is wearing you down and the stress of office culture is driving you crazy, you start to wonder what a career with no strings actually looks like.

Here’s the honest truth: it’s great. Also, it’s terrible. Sometimes it’s just okay.

Just like anything else in life.

More than anything, freelancing is a mixed bag. The lack of structure can be freeing, frustrating, and confounding.

The sense of agency can be empowering and terrifying at the same time. You can wake up some days feeling like a giant and go to bed feeling like a mouse – and vice versa.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer for several years now. Here’s the honest truth about freelancing. The best parts and the worst parts.

The good.

Having more flexibility in my workday is the best part of freelancing. At any point in a day, my husband and I can go for a hike, drive to Costco, or catch a movie. As long as I’m caught up on work, I’ll say yes.

Working for yourself allows for more freedom than any other job. You can take off as much time as you want and work when you need to. Many freelancers choose to work while they’re traveling, so they can stay longer and travel more often.

“Last year I was able to live in Chicago and Ann Arbor for a little over a month, and I plan to be away for two months this summer,” said freelance writer Jackie Lam of Cheapsters.

A few months ago, my husband and I got a puppy. We already had a dog – a lazy Beagle mix who mostly slept all day – but our new puppy needed lots of exercise and constant attention. The other day I realized that if one of us wasn’t working at home, we wouldn’t have been able to properly care for her. I can’t imagine not having Naga in my life. Freelancing made that happen.

Freelancing also lets you choose projects based on what you care about, not what your boss wants you to do. Valerie Rind, the author of “Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads,”  said freelance writing gives her the chance to stretch her limits and learn more about an issue she’s interested in.

“Instead of writing about the same topic, I try to accept assignments even if I don’t know much (or anything) about the subject matter,” she said. 

Most of the time, for me at least, the truth about freelancing is that it’s awesome. But there are times it’s not super-great. And you need to know that before you ditch your job and jump into the world of freelancing.

The bad. 

Most employees get paid every two weeks. No matter how well their company is doing, they still see a regular paycheck.

Not so for freelancers. How much you earn is dependent on not only how hard you work, but also on factors outside of your control. A client goes on vacation for a month and doesn’t need your services? You’re the one who has to scramble for work. Need surgery and can’t work for a few weeks? You’ll have to cover your own expenses.

Plus, the work is variable. Unless you have a steady stream of clients, freelancing can swing from feast to famine very quickly. One month you’ll earn more than you ever have, the next you’ll be living off of your emergency fund.

“Freelancing can test your character for sure,” said writer Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt. “The good times can have you feeling on top of the world, and the low times can have you questioning everything in your life.”

When I receive a lot of edits from a picky client or get all my carefully crafted pitches denied, I start thinking, “Maybe I’m not cut out for this.” Pushing through those rough times requires more mental fortitude than I ever needed in a day job.

The ugly.

Here they come. The things you really need to know about freelancing before you get started.

When you work for yourself, there’s no one else there to give you encouragement, praise, or guidance. There’s no annual review where you can find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to improve. It’s just you.

“If you want to grow, you have to push yourself,” Lam said. “No boss is going to hand you a raise or give you a promotion.” 

One of the worst aspects of freelancing is chasing down vendors who pay late. Once, I waited five months for a client to pay a $3,800 invoice.

When I reached out to my contact, he told me the company had shut down. I had to call all over the place to get someone to write me a check.  Some clients also balk at my late fee, even when I’ve been waiting two months to get paid.

Another pet peeve is working by myself. I miss having co-workers to talk to when I need a break or a boss to bounce ideas off. I do work with my husband, but he prefers solitude when working. I’m an extrovert, and it took me a few months to get used to being inside my house all day.

Are you ready to freelance?

There’s no doubt I love freelancing. This has been a great lifestyle for me. And it might work for you, too. But before you dive in, it’s good to know the truth about freelancing so you aren’t taken off guard by some of the challenges.

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Living the dream as your own boss? Don’t let it become a budgeting nightmare. Stay on top of things when you have a variable income.

When former cubicle-jockeys switch to a freelance career, it’s almost always in pursuit of one elusive goal: freedom.

But with that freedom comes uncertainty. Many newly self-employed individuals find themselves missing the income consistency that came with their old gig.

But variable income doesn’t have to mean a dubious financial situation. There are a few methods you can use to create the consistency you’re looking for. This allows for the kind of stability you’d enjoy at an office job.

Here’s how I manage my own variable income:

Calculate how much you need.

Living on a variable income is stressful if you’re also living in the dark. If you don’t know how much you need to survive, how can you know if you’re budgeting correctly?

Go through your spending and add up your necessary expenses, including rent, groceries, gas, utilities, debt payments and other bills.

Then divide that number by 75% to calculate your target income.

That will be the minimum you need to earn each month. Anything left over can be used for discretionary spending or saving.

Live on last month’s revenue.

While salaried individuals know how much they’re going to bring in every month, people living on a variable income have no clue.

A long-term client could take an extended vacation or an assignment might be delayed indefinitely. One of my favorite ways to combat this uncertainty is to live on last month’s invoices.

If you grossed $3,000 last month, then you can only spend $3,000 this month — even if you project to make $4,500 this month.

This budgeting philosophy is all about spending the money you have, not the money you think will have. After all, things can and will go wrong every month. The technique also eases your cash flow, since many freelancers don’t get paid until 30 days after they’ve submitted an invoice.

Save most of your surplus.

A friend of mine who worked in the dance industry once told me about a mentor who would go designer shopping every time she got a choreography gig. These jobs paid exceedingly more than teaching gigs and left her with more cash than she was used to.

Instead of saving that dough, she’d go shopping for name-brand purses and clothes. I was shocked when I heard that story, but not surprised. It’s human nature to go on a shopping spree when you land a big windfall. However, budgeting responsibly (especially on a variable income) is all about denying those urges.

It’s ok to celebrate a new client or big project as long as you’re tucking some of it away for a rainy day. Try to save between 70% and 80% of your surplus income and enjoy the rest responsibly.

Keep an emergency fund.

Everyone who works for themselves has a slow period where the work seems to dry up. You can plan ahead for these months by having a larger-than-normal emergency fund.

I keep a six-month emergency fund since my husband and I are both self-employed. Having half a year’s worth of expenses keeps us afloat during the off-season. It’s a good buffer to have and prevents me from picking up a McDonald’s application when the work starts to dwindle.

Multiply your baseline income by how many months you want to save for. Most people with variable income should have between six months and a year’s worth of bills saved in an emergency fund.

Make your expenses the same every month.

One of my favorite ways to regulate my finances has been budget billing for our utilities. Most gas, water, and electric companies allow you to pay the same amount every month instead of the amount you use.

Having budget billing has simplified my finances since I know our water bill will be static, no matter the season. I don’t have to worry about high gas statements in the winter or AC costs in the summer. Contact your energy company to see if they offer this service.

Look for other ways to normalize your bills so that you have the same expenses each month.

Save by percentage, not dollar amount.

Writer Jackie Lam of Cheapsters became a freelancer after she got laid off at her full-time gig. To make the transition smoother, she started saving a percentage of what’s left over after she’s paid the bills, instead of a specific dollar amount.

For example, instead of saving $200 a month for a vacation, she sets aside 5% of her budget. Using percentages makes it easier to hit her savings goals, even if she hasn’t had the most productive month.

In busy times, she might save more than $200, and during slowdowns she might only save $100. That percentage tends to average out over the year.

It’s a way to feel a little more secure and avoid feeling like a failure if you don’t hit a set dollar amount.

Be your own CEO.

If you really miss the stability of office life, consider paying yourself a salary. Once you’ve calculated your baseline, it’s simple enough to choose a stable wage to take going forward. Overage income can be applied to your savings, while consistently coming in under budget can be a warning sign that it’s time to take a pay cut.

This isn’t exactly the most efficient method listed, but it can take a lot of psychological weight off of planning your finances. It’s simple. Pay yourself a little less than you typically make and save the rest.

Do you live on a variable income? How do you make it work? What’s your favorite budgeting technique? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Don’t let your work from home dream turn into a nightmare. Set up your home office space following sound principles and you’ll be much happier.

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An increasing number of people work from home today.

Even if you don’t own a home business, telecommuting is something that many companies are willing to allow — at least some of the time.

Whether you have a side gig, your own business, or you just work from home on occasion, a home office is a good investment in your career sanity.

Here’s how to set it all up.

Concepts

  • A look at why it’s so popular to work from home right now.
  • Some of the “must haves” when it comes to a home office.
  • How to decide on the right computer and software for your work from home needs.
  • The difference between running your own business and working from home for someone else.
  • Why you need a dedicated home office if you work from home regularly.
  • Tips for cutting down on distractions when you work from home.
  • How to get into “work mode” with your home office.
  • The reality that sometimes you need to get out of the home office and work elsewhere.

This week’s DO NOWS focus on getting your home office-ready. Make sure you look around your home to identify potential spots for a home office. Also, you need to create a realistic list of the items you need to create your work from home reality.

Our listener question touches on a difficult issue for many people who work from home: what to do when the kids are too distracting? It’s not always a popular solution, but the reality is that sometimes you need to hire child care — even when you work from home.

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Tired of the soul-sucking 9-to-5 job? You can prepare to ditch it for good. Here’s how to plan your escape.

Less than a year ago, I quit my job.

I didn’t quit working. I just quit working for someone else. I feel as good today about that decision as the day I left.

The best part about quitting my traditional job was watching the cycle of emotions my friends and family went through after I told them I quit.

Their eyes opened wide when they heard the news. This was followed restrained winces, as they considered the loss of steady income, health, and insurance, security, two weeks of vacation a year. All those things we expect from a job.

Then, as if on cue, they’d drift into a daydream and pondered quitting their own jobs.

If you dream of a life of employer independence, you too can leave the 9-to-5. Here are five keys that helped me take that major step:

Sticking to what I know.

One of the main reasons people say they can’t quit their day job and start their own business is that they don’t know what to do. Don’t think too hard about it and get stuck in analysis paralysis. Stick with what you enjoy, are already doing, or are good at doing.

Listen. If the universe is pulling you in a certain direction, go.

My and my husband’s careers have been in finance. Despite this, when got together we had a combined total of $51,000 in credit card debt. We applied our theoretical and practical knowledge to pay off our debt and turn our net worth around.

We enjoy finance, investing, and financial planning. Because of our experiences and our desire to help others with their money, we’re using our personal and professional experiences as the foundation of our business.

We put ourselves out as writers, speakers, podcasters, and experts on personal finance and we’re now helping others and, in turn, growing a business that let me leave the 9-to-5 grind. David’s not far behind me.

We saved money.

Before I quit my W-2 job, we added an additional $10,000 to our existing emergency savings account.

We did this by cutting back on non-essential spending and putting it into our emergency savings account with no bells or whistles. We don’t have debit cards or checking writing on this account. We don’t connect it to other accounts for outgoing electronic funds transfers (EFT). This money is hard, though not impossible, to access. This reduces urges to spend this money on whims.

We’ve resumed some of the habits we used to pay off our $51,000 in credit card debt. This includes only buying groceries that are either on sale or for which we have coupons. We cook at home rather than dine out. Cardboardeaux has replaced Bordeaux because it’s cheaper per bottle and stores longer.

All of this is temporary and we know this is temporary. We can live frugally today to grow our business because we lived frugally yesterday to pay off our debt.

Hustling harder than ever.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

I used to think I worked hard at my W-2, but I worked just hard enough to keep my boss happy.

I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I am now on our business.

With each day, the 9-to-5 is getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, but to say it’s been easy would be disingenuous.

There’s a meme of an iceberg I frequently share on Facebook. Ten percent of the iceberg is above water and represents the “overnight success” that people see. Ninety percent of the iceberg is below water and represents the work no one sees: waking up at 4:30 am, working until midnight, on weekends, and holidays.

There are times that I’ve questioned if this is worth it. When I hear about rush-hour traffic jams, friends stressed about their bosses and disappointment with nominal raises, I’m reminded that it is.

I prepped.

There were steps I took before I decided to actually leave the 9-to-5.

I researched and updated my health insurance, acquired life insurance, and created a plan to consolidate my employer-sponsored 401(k) with my personal broker.

We talked with our accountant about what my W-2 and 1099 employment status changes would mean for our personal income taxes. We created a week-to-week budget that accommodates our drop in regular income.

Being thorough and meticulous before I quit has made temporarily cutting our income in half a little easier.

I took the leap.

Finally, I took the leap. Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

To be fair, I delayed my original termination date by 90 days because my employer asked me to complete a project on which my team was working. I considered delaying my termination again because the economy showed signs of weakness. The problem is we can always come up with reasons to stick with the safe and familiar.

Some people might say we should’ve saved more than that extra $10,000. Others might say I should’ve waited until after the last presidential election ended. Still more might say leaving, at all, was foolish.

Despite all the reasons I could’ve manufactured, I leaped and I don’t regret it.

If your dream is to leave the 9-to-5 behind, too, these five steps may help you. I challenge you to be thorough and meticulous before you take such a leap, but I also challenge you to not get paralyzed by fear or analysis.

As Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

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Do you want to work abroad and live your life from anywhere in the world? Sarah Li Cain shows how you can live this flexible lifestyle.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

On today’s episode of Adulting.tv LIVE!, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Sarah Li Cain from High Fiving Dollars. Today we’ll discuss what it takes to travel beyond your home, see the world, and enjoy living and working outside of the United States.

Sarah Li Cain is a financial storyteller who weaves practical tips and strategies into her work so that those trying to change their money mindset can see themselves in the starring role. You can find her over at High Fiving Dollars where she answers readers questions or spilling her guts out on her latest money experiment.

Watch the video above or listed to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Trying to figure out what to sell online? An online sales business can change your lifestyle.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Today, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job. On this episode of Adulting.tv LIVE! we will discuss finding the best product to start an e-commerce business. Selling products online can be a great way to earn a living.

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. He currently works for a startup company in the Silicon Valley.

Watch the video above or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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