When I started this blog back in 2014, I really had no plans to start a business while working full-time. It was meant to be a creative outlet and a way to build relationships online with those with similar interests and passions.
Things have morphed a lot since then. Not only was I able to successfully grow my blog, but I also used it to launch a successful freelance writing business.
For most of the time I’ve been blogging, I had a full-time job. Yes, starting a business while working a full-time job is a lot of work. A ton of work. But it’s a task that more and more people are taking on as they try to increase their income through side-hustles.
If you’re interested in starting a business while working a full-time job, then this post is for you!
How To Start A Business While Working Full-Time
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Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into
You should know ahead of time that the task you’re getting ready to take on is not an easy one. Starting a business under any circumstances is stressful and a huge time investment, but starting a side business alongside a full-time job means all the stress without having nearly as much time to devote to it.
If you’re serious about your decision to start a side business, know that there are going to be sacrifices. It will likely mean passing up nights out with friends, time spent on other hobbies, and time you may have spent doing something more relaxing such as reading or binge-watching your favorite shows.
While I caution you to take these things into account before you start a side business, I also wouldn’t consider these reasons not to. In the years since I started this blog, I’ve absolutely found those sacrifices to be worth it!
Do Your Research Ahead of Time
When I first started this blog, I was woefully unprepared for the task of running a business. That totally worked in my case, because it was purely a hobby for a long time, and I didn’t make my first dollar until I had already been at it for a year! But if you’re starting this journey with the intention of starting a real business, you’ll want to do a bit more research upfront.
Take some time to consider what kind of business you’re starting, what services you’ll offer, and who your target audience will be. This will make it so much easier to start creating, whether it be a service, a product, or online content. It will also make it easier to make a marketing plan because you’ll know exactly who you’re marketing to, where they hang out online, and what it is they need from you.
Running a business alongside a full-time job also takes a lot of planning. If you just wing it every time you sit down to work, or you don’t know what you should be working on, then you aren’t going to make much progress with your business.
Everyone has a different system for planning that works best for them. Here’s how I plan my business ahead of time:
- At the beginning of the year, I consider my business goals for the year and decide what projects and areas I really want to focus on.
- Using Asana, I break those projects down into a timeline and write out every action item I’m going to need to accomplish.
- Every week, I sit down and plan my entire week in advance. I use my Asana projects and task list to write out my daily to-do list/schedule for each day in my planner.
- Check out my list of the best planners for this year, including the one I personally use.
Certainly, things come up that weren’t on my to-do list, or certain projects get dropped throughout the year. Plans change somewhat.
That being said, it’s still super important to make a plan so you know everything on your to-do list is truly helping you to reach your goals.
Invest in Your Business
One of the great things about building an online business is that the start-up costs are quite low. I spent no money at all when I first started my blog, other than the cost of my own domain. Since then, even as my business has grown, I’ve still been able to keep costs low.
The type of business you’re starting will certainly impact the investment needed up front, but I recommend limiting those costs as much as possible. You might also consider cutting costs in other areas of your life so you have more money available to put toward your business before you start bringing in an income there.
Your costs upfront will likely include a domain and hosting service. You also might consider an email marketing platform and social media marketing tools. If you’re creating a physical product, you’ll have even more start-up costs associated.
Set Goals and Hold Yourself Accountable
I have found goal-setting to be hugely beneficial when it comes to growing my blog and business. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of writing new blog posts and promoting them on social media, and sometimes you can lose sight of the big picture and other projects you might like to take on.
I like to find balance by having a few big goals that I’m working toward along with my normal blogging routine. Most notably, those big goals have included opening my Etsy shop and writing and launching my eBook.
It can be so easy when your business is a side-hustle to set goals for yourself and then find that you never actually get around to accomplishing them. Find ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals such as writing them down, setting deadlines, and sharing them with others.
Manage Your Time Wisely
There’s no doubt about it, you’re going to have to get crafty with your time management if you’re going to start a side hustle. If you’re working full-time, that means 40 hours every week that you won’t be spending growing your business.
Your evenings and weekends will suddenly be worth their weight in gold for your business. I like to make the most of that time by making sure I’ve outlined ahead of time what tasks I need to get done. You can also try to take advantage of early mornings and lunch hours (if that’s an option for you) to sneak in a little extra work.
Everyone eventually figures out a system that works best for them, and it’s different for every business owner. I typically spend a couple of evenings each week working on blog work, as well as one full day on the weekend if I can manage it (on weekends where I’ve got a lot going on personally I’ll just make up for that lost work by putting in more hours during the workday evenings).
Have a Content Strategy
When I first started blogging (and for probably the first 2-3 years of my blog) I had no content strategy whatsoever.
I would write blog posts that I thought were interesting with absolutely no thought as to how they would fit into my overall blog strategy.
I also created lead magnets for my email list without any sort of strategy. I once created a lead magnet around a topic I wrote about only a few times, and that I wasn’t really interested in continuing to write about or monetize.
And then 2,000 people signed up for the lead magnet. And I had 2,000 people on my email list (that I had to pay for) who had no interest in what I actually talk about on my blog.
That experience definitely showed me how important a content strategy really is. Any time you write a blog post or email, create a lead magnet or throw up a social media post, know WHY you’re doing it.
Have a goal for every piece of content. Is your blog post meant to grow your email list by sharing a relevant lead magnet? Is it meant to sell your product or even an affiliate product? Is it meant to build trust with your audience?
Since implementing a content strategy for my blog, I’ve noticed that my audience is way more engaged and actually care about me and the things I’m posting!
Batch Your Work
Since blogging is not my full-time job, I don’t always have a consistent time to work on it. One week I might have a full 30-40 hours to devote to my blog, and the next week it might be more like 10.
The best way I’ve found to deal with this inconsistency is by batching my work. If I have a day where I have a full eight hours to work on my business, I don’t just write my next blog post. I write my next four blog posts.
I also schedule my social media posts for the entire month at once. It just takes me a few hours, and then I know I won’t have to worry about social media posts for the rest of the month.
The other benefit of batching your work is that you’re saving yourself a lot of transition time. For example, I like to schedule Pinterest images for all of my upcoming blog posts at once. I’ve already got my design program open. I’m already focused on that project.
If you have a consistent blogging schedule and always have to same chunks of time to devote to blogging, you could assign certain tasks to certain days.
For example, you might have one day where you write all your blog posts for the following week, one day where you design the graphics, one day where you write and schedule the social media posts, etc.
Get Off Balance
One of my favorite bloggers and life coach Natalie Bacon teaches that if you want to reach a big goal, you need to get off balance in your life.
We read so much these days about creating balance in your life and the importance of creating work-life balance.
But if your blog is really a top priority for you, then you just can’t give it the same weight as everything else in your life. You need to prioritize your time so that your biggest priorities are getting the most time!
Making your blog a priority is going to mean cutting back on other parts of your life. It means fewer nights out with friends and fewer days binge-watching your favorite shows.
It might mean being okay with your house being mostly clean instead of super clean so you can devote more hours to your blog.
Personally, I love reading. I used to spend hours reading every week. And don’t get me wrong, I still love reading. And I still make time to read. But I don’t devote the amount of time to it that I used to.
I would rather spend more time on my blog and have that hard work pay off sooner.
It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to prioritize your life. But just know that if you’re balancing your blog equal to everything else in your life, you aren’t going to see the fast growth you hope for.
Network, Network, Network
As I mentioned before, more and more people are choosing to become entrepreneurs while also holding a full-time job. This means you’re in good company and there are tons of like-minded individuals online doing what you’re doing!
Forming relationships with other online bloggers and business owners has been truly invaluable to growing my own business. First of all, it has helped me to grow my business by allowing me to find individuals who are interested in what I’m talking about on my blog. It has also allowed me to make online friends whom I can lean on and who understand the pressures and stressors that go into this world of online business.
Just a quick search on Facebook will allow you to find countless Facebook groups of like-minded entrepreneurs! You can also connect by reaching out directly on Instagram, Twitter, or another social media page.
If you have a side business, you know that building a successful business with a full-time job is not easy.
It takes time. It takes an insane amount of hard work. And it just might take a bit of your sanity (kidding…sort of).
One of the biggest challenges people seem to run into when they’re building their blog is really balancing their blog with a job that takes up 40+ hours of their week.
I know the lessons I shared in this blog post can help you get on the right track.