Are you debating whether or not you’re financially ready to take your side hustle full-time? Here’s how I financially prepared to take my blog and Instagram full-time.
It was not my original goal to take my blog and content creation full-time. After my two aerospace internships in college, I had every intention of working in corporate America. My top priorities were to:
- Graduate from college with my degree in business
- Find a stable, corporate job that would allow me to pay off my student loans and help my family
- And get my master’s degree so I could start climbing the management route.
I decided to start my blog Emma’s Edition because I knew I was going to jump into a corporate career, and I wanted a space to share my love fashion and creativity. I thought I was going to balance something fun and creative with a corporate career.
In fall 2017, I started my master’s program still with the same goal of climbing the management route. But by my second quarter of grad school, I realized that I wanted to pursue digital media and content creation. I was having so much fun learning about UX, content strategy, and the future of digital media. I was excited to learn about digital media and then immediately put it into practice on my blog and social media.
I graduated my Master’s in Communication in Digital Media in 2019 and made it my goal to leave my former company in two years. Since my former employer paid for all of grad school while I worked full-time, I was required to stay at least two years.
Making the decision to pursue Emma’s Edition full-time truly took me a few years. One of the major things I wanted to do before I took Emma’s Edition full-time was to be financially secure.
Here is how I financially prepared to take my blog and Instagram full-time:
I met my 2019 financial goal of building a 6-month emergency fund.
There’s no way I would have been able to leap into full-time content creation without a financial safety net. I’ve been consciously saving since I graduated from undergrad in 2014. I first saved a 3-month emergency fund two years after I graduated college. And at the end of 2018, I knew I needed to build that 3-month fund into a 6-month emergency fund. My financial risk tolerance is a little low, so I like having emergency savings.
Whether you want to pursue your side hustle as your full-tome career or not, I would highly recommend having an emergency fund – even if it’s a one-month emergency fund. Things happen, like a global pandemic and lay-offs. Personally, I received my lay-off notice this summer, but I didn’t freak out over finances because I knew I had this safety net.
I personally didn’t start working on my emergency fund until after I graduated college. Everything I earned in my corporate summer internships and part time jobs in school went towards paying my rent, tuition, and books. But I knew after I graduated, that I needed to build up my emergency fund.
I made (and maintain) a budget.
I know how much I spend on food, bills, student loan payments, the mortgage, etc. I knew that before I took my blog and Instagram full-time, I needed to know that my blogging income could support my budget and my lifestyle.
If you’re trying to figure out when you can financially turn your side hustle into your full-time job, I recommend laying out your budget.
You can start by laying out:
- Your monthly income
- Your monthly expenses
- Cell phone bill
- Car payment
- Credit card payment
- Student loan payments
- Internet/utilities/garbage/water bills
- Grocery bills
- Variable expenses like:
- Haircare: haircuts, blow outs, styling, etc.
- Travel expenses: hotel or Airbnb stays, gas money, food, etc.
- Going out to eat
- Amazon purchases
- Savings goals
- And seeing what you have left over after you’ve covered your expenses
There’s lots of tools and resources out there to help you build out a budget. If you aren’t sure where to start, I recommend reading Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin. I read this book after I graduated college and I felt so much more informed about approaching finances. I also recommend checking out my friend Tori from Her First 100K. She offers personal finance coaching as well as courses.
Besides laying out your budget, I would recommend asking yourself:
Do I want to pursue my side hustle full-time when it’s equal to what I’m making in my 9-5?
Or – am I open to scaling back my lifestyle so I’m able to live on what I earn with my side hustle?
Laying out your budget will help you decide what’s best for you. If you’re able to cover your fixed expenses with your side hustle income, and you’re open to scaling back your lifestyle by cutting out going out to eat or traveling, you might be ready to take your side hustle full-time. But you also might discover that your side hustle income doesn’t cover your expenses, and you still need your full-time job.
If you realize that your side hustle income can cover your expenses, but you aren’t opened to scaling back your lifestyle and need your 9-5 income to do so, it might not be time to take your side hustle or your blog and Instagram full-time.
Personally, I had to ask myself this question.
I made a great salary working in the aerospace industry. I was proud to bring in $40,000 in revenue but it wasn’t even half of what I made in aerospace. I took a look at my budget and realized that I did scale back my lifestyle this year.
Since the pandemic started in March, I’ve cut out traveling (cancelled my Coachella trip, my bachelorette party, and all travel plans). My fiancé and I also have stopped going out to eat. We’ll pick up dinner to-go maybe once or twice a week, but we’ve definitely scaled back with how much we spend on food. The money I’m not spending on travel and food plus seeing my monthly expenses laid out allowed me to see that I could take on Emma’s Edition – both my blog and Instagram full-time.
I learned how to be confident in my ability to earn money with content creation.
After four years of seriously building Emma’s Edition on the side, I know I have the business acumen and the creative talent to make a living as a content creator. In the second week of October, I’ve contracted $5,500 of brand partnerships this month. But if you’ve been following along this journey, you know that learning how to make money with your blog/Instagram is NOT an overnight success.
In 2017, I earned my first paid partnership at $200 for 4 Instagram posts.
In 2018, I earned $10,000 in revenue with my blog and Instagram.
And in 2019, I earned $40,000 in revenue with my blog and Instagram. It took me years to figure out how to work and negotiate with brands. It also took me a few years to gain the confidence in my skills to ask to be paid.
I started investing this year as a part of my retirement plan.
One of my financial goals for 2020 was to learn how to invest. No one in my family had any idea how to get started with buying and selling stock so I didn’t know where to start. I was so relieved when my friend Amanda from Dumpster Doggy invited me to take her into to investing course.
I learned from her course that investing in the market could be a part of your retirement plan. I also learned that as a content creator/freelancer, I could open up a Roth IRA and max it out each year as a part of my retirement plan. I haven’t opened up my Roth IRA yet, but I did start investing in the market this year.
What financial decisions and goals did you make before you turned your side hustle into your full-time career?
I also recently shared the reason and the story why I took Emma’s Edition full-time on the blog.
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Holly Phan