How I Turned My Side Hustle into My Dream Job

My freelance work began because I was in the right place at the right time.

While working a trade show for my corporate job, I stopped at a bright, colorful booth and chatted with the outgoing business owner. The month was January 2017, the booth was #SocialSchool4EDU, and the business owner was Andrea Gribble.

Nine months later, I began managing social media for two school accounts on behalf of #SocialSchool4EDU… and I was hooked!

By that time, I was climbing the corporate ladder and no longer managed social media during my day job. Coming home to my freelance work was a welcome break. Andrea is an encouraging and hard-working woman. The chutzpah that it took for her to start her business (seriously, read her story!) seriously inspired me.

Andrea soon introduced me to a few business owners that needed social media assistance. I also began writing social media posts for the #SocialSchool4EDU business. By November 2018, I was dedicating around 20 hours a week to my “side job” – and it was pretty clear that I was coming to a crossroads.

My husband and I started tossing around the idea of having me go full-time with my writing business. We knew that the finances needed to make sense, so I started to develop a pricing structure. Here’s the story of how I came up with the name Emily Writes. My original goal was to go full-time by December 2019, but this timeline moved up quickly when Andrea offered me a role on her #SocialSchool4EDU leadership team.

That offer came in May 2019. Between November and May, I did all the boring-yet-necessary set-up tasks, such as securing my LLC, opening a business bank account, and consulting with a lawyer and CPA. I also created my logo and set-up my social media sites – that was more fun!

So, when Andrea made the offer, the wheels were already in motion… and I took the leap. My last day as an employee was May 31, 2019 and my first day as a full-time business owner was June 1, 2019. Here’s the story about how I ended my corporate career on a high note.

The first few months felt surreal. I pushed through imposter syndrome and worked my butt off to meet the revenue goals necessary to hold up my half of the household. My growth has been steady and sustainable, and I’ve even been able to bring some talented contractors onto my team, as of this summer.

When COVID-19 hit, it impacted my business temporarily. But for the most part, my clients needed even more online marketing help to stay afloat. Sixteen months after going full-time, I can say with confidence that I love being my own boss and never want to go back!

My #1 piece of advice? Build and nurture relationships.

If you’re trying to turn a side hustle into your full-time dream, build relationships not only with potential clients but with people who can be your connectors. I can trace nearly every current client back through a chain of word-of-mouth referrals. I haven’t spent a dime on advertising, other than my website and email program.

So, whether you’re striving to build a service-based business like mine or if you’re itching to get your innovative product out into the world – go after it! Start small if you have to, but always start with relationships.

And remember: As Jan Levinson-Gould tells Pam Beasley in Season 2, Episode 15 of The Office, “There are always a million reasons not to do something.”