I hated my job and wanted out. It didn’t matter that it paid well or that my title was very impressive. Looking back on that experience, I know now that job was also ruining my health.

Between drinks at lunch and the hours each night I’d spend complaining to my wife or scheming on some strategy for surviving another day with my backstabbing colleagues; my work life was very unhealthy.

And it was all about work…there was nothing left for me at the end of the work day.

And on the weekends, well, if I wasn’t trying to numb myself or distract myself, I was working to avoid being overwhelmed as soon as the week started on Monday.

Worst of all…no matter how many promotions and raises my wife and I got at our jobs, the economy always seemed to stay one step ahead.

I didn’t seem to matter how hard we worked, or how much new responsibility we took on, the pay was never quite enough to build the life we wanted.

And with all that work, who has time to live a life?

The worst part? I don’t feel like my story is unique at all…

Many, many people are experiencing the same scenario: working hard, having some “success” at their job but never enough to break out of the vicious cycle of living to work.

Maybe you’re feeling the same way. Maybe you’ve already done what I did: started looking for other ways to earn. Even though that means somehow finding more time to grind, to work ever harder. Because what’s the alternative, right?

In my case, the job that was supposed to be a safety net disappeared and left me with no alternative but to turn my marketing side hustle into a full-time job. But despite the fact that I was forced into that situation, it was absolutely the best possible thing that could have happened because it proved right away what’s possible when you don’t have limits imposed on you by others.

I was forced to make my move to full-time right away, without the benefit of building my business “on the side” first. For me, this was the best possible outcome. But you probably don’t want to just quit your job like that because the risk is too great.

So instead, I’m going to show you an alternative approach in five steps that works just as well and will allow you to keep your full-time job (for a little while anyway) while you get your side business up and running.

5 steps to take your marketing side hustle full-time

The most essential skill to making money on your own, as a freelancer, an agency owner, or some indie hacker building an app, is time management.

When you’re the boss, you can’t just spend all day focusing on one thing (amazing as that would be). It just doesn’t work that way.

So it’s really helpful to have a framework for dividing up your day so that you have blocks of focused time but are also forced to switch your focus periodically so that you can keep making progress on all fronts (and not let anything slip through the cracks).

managing time and projects marketing

Step 1: Develop a personal time management system

My personal method is to work about three four hour shifts per work day, with a lunch and dinner break worked in wherever it needs to go.

I also take a few quick breaks during those long blocks to keep my focus sharp and my system regulated.

In one of those three blocks of time I focus on the marketing and administration of my business (accounting and so on). In the other two blocks, I handle my client work, and develop relationships with prospects, freelancers, and potential assets for my company.

That’s what I do now because I am free to devote all my time to my business.

But if you’re working full time, the first two (or potentially the last two) blocks of time will be dedicated to your job.

The remaining 4 hours is what you can dedicate to your side hustle -and you’ll really going to want to maximize how you spend that time.

marketing burnout

Step 2: Find your maximum output and set limits for yourself

Burning out is a top reason that people’s businesses fail, if not the top reason. Don’t let this happen to you.

Don’t get boxed into a situation where you have to be working at burnout levels for your business to succeed -or it won’t.

But you will need to work as hard as you can so that you can create the momentum that will grow your company, so it’s useful to get a establish exactly how much of a each type of work you do that you can accomplish in a day.

If you’ve been working a marketing side hustle for very long at all, you’ll already have a pretty good idea what this looks like.

You need to create boundaries to protect yourself from burnout and spending too much time focused on only one aspect of your business.

I do this by setting limits on myself; like only handling a certain number of hours of client work in addition to the content I have to create, the administration of my business (billing, taxes, legal, etc), and the selling of new business.

You can only get so much of that done in 4 hours a day, so it’s going to have to be spread across the week, or the month, and that’s ok -the important thing is to have a clear idea what you can accomplish in the time you have.

You need to be very precise about this so that you know exactly when to start offloading that work onto other freelancers as you start selling more than you can personally execute.

To recap:

First you find a framework for managing your time that allows you to divide it up into manageable chunks of time you can devote to your various responsibilities (including sales, marketing, and getting paid).

Then you experiment to find the maximum amount of productive work you can personally do to protect yourself from burnout and to know exactly when to engage other freelancers for help.

marketing brainstorm

Step 3: Find collaborators and share the wealth so you can KEEP SELLING

Under no circumstances should you ever stop selling or have a “full roster of clients”. If you are blessed with this extremely good problem to have, share the wealth!

There are plenty of freelancers out there looking for work that would happily let you take a percentage off the top of their labors in exchange for a little client management.

The challenge is finding people to work with that you can trust and, admittedly, this is a bit of a problem. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be profitable.

So take this small problem as a challenge to overcome on your way to success and invest the time that it takes to find freelancers that are talented, trustworthy, and looking for work.

LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) are very good places for building a network like this, particularly the latter.

Through social media you can have direct conversations with experts in basically any field and meet many talented people working in roles very similar to your own.

So you can learn from the best and find really excellent providers for all your needs on platforms that also help you grow your business.

You can, of course, work through platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.com to find providers in a pinch but you can expect to pay high fees and have to work through a wonky platform instead of by email (which is much faster and more efficient).

Instead I really recommend you just make a list of the most talented people you can find on X and start engaging with them via comments and DMs.

Likewise, on LinkedIn, you can join relevant groups, start posting in them, and connect with anyone who likes or comments.

Over time you can build a rapport with them and ask them about their services, what kind of clients they like, how they charge, etc.

Eventually you’ll want to experiment with them on a small project (at your own risk) and, if that goes well, look for additional opportunities to collaborate.

Do this for a while and you’ll develop a stable of thoroughbred stallions that leave your competition in the dust.

Armed with their portfolio and yours, you’re much tougher competition than you would be on your own. And for your trouble, you get to make a margin on the work you’re subcontracting to your new friends.

selling over zoom

Step 4: Sell more

Selling is probably not your favorite thing to do, as a marketer. But selling is the most important activity for a business.

Sales are the lifeblood -the fuel- of a growing business. Without a steady supply of fresh sales your business will stall and eventually fail.

Without a doubt, the most profitable thing you can spend your time doing is selling. Closing new business creates opportunity (and revenue) where there wasn’t any before.

It reinforces your stability and resilience, in case you lose revenue somewhere else in the business.

It gives you the confidence to raise your prices and reach for bigger, better clients.

Because once you get your blocks of time figured out, and find out just how efficiently you can work, and then build yourself a stable of collaborators, you just need to scale up sales to turn your business into a money printing machine.

But it’s easier said than done, right?

Right now you’re probably thinking something like: “I’m no expert in sales. I don’t know even know where to look for more clients.”

Except that you are and you do…

You’re an expert at what you do (or you better be spending your remaining free time on YouTube becoming one!). And experts make the best salespeople because they actually know what they’re talking about.

Most salespeople don’t really, deeply know the ins-and-outs of what they’re selling like the creatives or the engineers who make the product do. So if you do…it’s quite an edge.

And you do know where to find prospects

You don’t have to look far. Wherever you live, there are small businesses all around you that are getting terrible service from their marketing agencies.

Or you can look around you on social media. There are plenty of examples of people doing bad work and getting paid for it.

I’ll make it even easier…

Do a Google search for some small local service provider term like “mobile car wash service near me” or “print shop near me”, avoiding the big money makers like lawyers and doctors and the dime a dozen restaurants, etc.

Look for small local businesses owned by individuals or families that are too busy running their businesses to keep up with their marketing effectively.

This signals that they probably have money but they’re likely to also have some serious problems with their marketing, that could be opportunities for you to score some easy wins and make a great impression right away.

This is a magic formula for finding qualified prospects that are the right size and complexity for a freelancer or small agency business. Use this approach and you’ll turn up dozens of prospects this way in no time at all.

When you find an opportunity in the marketplace that fits your skillset and style of work, make hay while the sun is shining. Stack these as fast as your stable of freelancers can keep up with the work and until you are overwhelmed by keeping up with it within your 4-hour a day limit (or whatever you set).

Step 5: Turning your side hustle into a full-time gig

When you have so much business that you can’t keep up with it in the time you have allotted to your business, it’s time to quit or scale back your employment and invest more time into the business.

Using the same logic as before, calculate how much you need to make to cover your expenses and how much of the work you should take back on personally to replace your salary or wages.

If you’re still not ready to jump ship, see if you can go part-time and take on your own health insurance, etc. It’s a nice savings for your employer if they go for it and they still get the best part of your brain and time out of the deal. Not every employer will go for it but it never hurts to ask.

Otherwise you can look for a side job to supplement your main hustle.

But in the end, you want to work towards fully replacing the job with the business -and then to keep that going. Which means making smart choices, working with good people, and to “always be closing.”

It’s easier than you think

I hope you can see the steps I’ve outlined here clearly in your mind, and in your own life. It’s hard to make a business successful but it’s not as hard to get started as you probably think.

You also aren’t taking nearly as big of a risk as you probably think that you are. Because what feels like huge risk now becomes trivial the second you start making real money.

The more you focus on your hustle, and the better you become at selling it, the faster your business will grow until you will be forced to choose between having a job or running your own business.

And that’s a good problem to have…

About the Author

Nathan Binford

Creator & Digital Marketer

“The Mindful Marketer” 🧘‍♂️ I help people achieve freedom through marketing and mindfulness. | Develop the skills and mindset for success. Join for free at NathanBinford.com/subscribe.

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