I shared something on my Instagram Stories about how it still sometimes blows my mind that I escaped my 9-5 cubicle job to work for myself, make more money, and work from home, cuddled up in a blanket most days. I also shared that I now work WAY harder and I work longer hours… but I’m WAY happier than I ever have been.
Sure, it’s lonely sometimes. It’s stressful sometimes. It’s confusing sometimes. And staying in a 9-5 job with a nice salary and benefits would have been soooo much easier. But I’ve always desired freedom in my life… freedom to create my own schedule, freedom to work on what I want to work on, freedom to work with clients I wanted to work with… and even the freedom to wear whatever I wanted every day even though that may be trivial to some.
I get questions about how I did this all of the time, so I wanted to just give a really brief run-down of the steps I took to start my “side business” and then grow it to a full-time career. 🙂
- Brand yourself! This stage in the process is so important because it’s truly the foundation of what you want to create. What are your strengths, talents, and skills that you want to create a business out of? Once you decide that, you can decide what your brand name will be. I decided to go the “personal brand” route, which basically means that I use my name as my “business name”. I operate as a sole proprietor rather than an LLC. Also during this stage of the process, decide what your brand colors, fonts, voice, and overall style is going to be.
- So, once you have an idea of what your brand, products, and services will be all about, it’s time to set up a website and social media pages. Here’s where you actually get serious about the business you’re creating. My website is through WordPress, and it’s hosted through Siteground. I chose to use WordPress.org which is “open-source” and free for anyone to use. However, when you do this, you still need a place to “host” the server. I use Siteground for hosting and have been very happy with them so far! WordPress is the base software of my website, aka the foundation of the site. Siteground is the server where the website lives. When you have your website set up this way, your truly own the content on your website, the domain name, and the website itself. After you have a website set up, focus on your social media pages! I use primarily Instagram and Facebook for my business, and both of my profiles are set up as a business page. In my opinion, it’s important to ESPECIALLY have a business page for Facebook. Don’t be using your personal Facebook page to promote your business. 🙂
- Start sharing! Once you have your website and social media set up, you should start positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry. If you’re in health and fitness, start sharing tons of knowledge and value with workout videos, healthy recipes, etc. When you do this consistently, people will start thinking of you as an influencer in whatever industry you’re in. When I started sharing about social media and marketing, I was a little hesitant because I thought the majority of people who followed me wouldn’t care about this. However, when I realized that I’m not doing this for “friends and family”, I’m doing this for a BUSINESS and for clients who need my help, I didn’t care about that anymore. 🙂 Once I started consistently sharing Instagram Stories, blog posts, and Facebook posts about my business and what I offer, more and more people became interested. ALL of my clients came from social media and referrals/word of mouth (which originated from social media). I personally did not have any luck with freelancing websites such as People Per Hour or Upwork, but I know some people have had great success with that route. Through consistent social media use, I was able to grow a full client list, made up of local businesses AND business owners across the country (some of which I’ve never met in person!).
- Once you land your first client or two, it should be your mission to go above and beyond for them. This is where you prove yourself and prove what you have to offer. If you do a great fantastic job for that first client, it will snowball from there. You can share the results of what you helped that client achieve. You can share more about the behind-the-scenes of what exactly you’re doing for them. You can ask them to write a testimonial for you, and then you can share that and use it to further promote your products/services to other businesses owners.
- Figure out how many projects or clients it will take you to MATCH your income or feel 100% confident leaving your job in order to take your “side business” to a full-time career. I knew it was time to leave my full-time job for a variety of reasons…
- My heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to be an entrepreneur SO MUCH MORE than I wanted to work at a 9-5 job.
- With a rapidly-growing side business AND a full-time job, I was working so much that my health started to deteriorate. After I would get home from my full-time job, I was working late nights and weekends to build my business and work for the clients who put their trust in me. I was sleeping less, working out less, and I was consistently eating whatever was “quick and easy” just so I didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen meal-prepping and cooking (which is something I actually enjoy!). I knew that if I kept this up… it wouldn’t be good for my physical or mental health, which are also very important to me. I also knew that if I kept going at the rate I was at, I was going to start letting people down (my boss, coworkers, and clients at my full-time job AND the clients who hired me in my “side business”). That fear of letting people down was enough for me to make a change.
So, there you have it! I realize this is a very bare-bones guide to starting and growing a side business, but these are the key steps I took along my journey. There is SO MUCH I could share…. so much more than what I can share in a single blog post. I genuinely want to help other people do what I did, and my wheels are turning with BIGGER, better ways I can do this.
If you’re reading this… and you’re dreaming about creating your own side business and growing it to a full-time career, just know that I’m here for you! If this is a goal of yours, please subscribe to my email list at the bottom of this page and stay in touch. I definitely want to create a resource for people like you — people who desire freedom in their lives and careers — people who want to work for themselves someday. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like yet… but just be confident that I’ll come up with something! 😉
Thanks for reading! I’m rooting for you!
*Pin the graphic below to save this on Pinterest!