Maybe it was something your boss said. Maybe it was the subway breaking down one too many times. Or maybe a brand you love just came knocking for a partnership. Whatever pushed you to do it, you’ve decided it’s time to quit your day job and become a full-time content creator.
You probably already have a community and at least one platform where you’re putting out content on the regular. Maybe you’ve even had a month or two where you made enough money to rival your day job. All signs that point to “hey, maybe I can actually do this thing!”
Being so passionate about something that you’re willing to go all-in is a great thing. Not everyone is that lucky, and you should absolutely grab the bull by the horns and be the content creator you want to be.
You shouldn’t make the leap with your eyes closed. With just a little bit of planning beforehand, you can make sure you hit the ground running and never have to write another CV again. Here are four things you should do before you quit your 9-to-5.
Prepare your community
Can your community support you as a creator? Look at your followers, your subscribers, and everyone else who’s part of your community. How many of them have been with you for a while? Did you get a big chunk of followers from a viral video? Are they going to stick around or are they not really a good fit for your content?
When you’re a full-time content creator, your ability to bring in income isn’t just influenced by the size of your audience but how aligned they are with what you create and how much they trust you. An engaged subscriber who’s always coming back for your content is more likely to buy a product from a brand you’ve partnered with. Someone who mindlessly hit “follow” after seeing you nail that latest TikTok trend? Not so much.
You can use tools like Social Blade to determine how solid your audience is. Most platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, have their own analytics platforms as well. Look for things like turnover — how many followers you lose regularly — and spikes in new followers.
After looking into this, you might find that your audience isn’t as rock-solid as you thought. That’s ok! It just means it’s time to do some outreach and try to find new followers who are a better fit for your content.
When Marie Ann Altuve, Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer at Self Made Babe, launched her first eBook, she went to Facebook to build up her audience: “I noticed there were a lot of Facebook groups for women in digital marketing. I connected with women who had genuine questions about Instagram, answered their questions and was like, ‘By the way, if you’d like to learn more, you can purchase my ebook at this link.’” Where do your ideal followers hang out? Find those spaces, and show up to give them value.
Content creators need an audience. Preparing your community before you quit your day job means making sure your audience needs you, too. That’s done by finding people who are a good fit for your content and making sure you give them value whenever they show up.
Make a revenue plan
Having a steady, guaranteed income was probably the single biggest thing that kept you tethered to your day job, right? When you’re a full-time content creator, there are no such guarantees. That can make things a bit more stressful, especially when you’re putting all your energy into creating content.
One of the best ways to deal with that stress is to make a revenue plan.
Start by looking at the income you’ve generated so far, across all your revenue streams. If you’re creating on YouTube, for example, go over your channel’s growth and how much income that represents. If you can keep that growth going — or better yet, increase it — how much more money will you make over the next three months? Or six? Or a year?
It’s also a good idea to look into diversifying your income before you switch to being a full-time creator. Relying on a single platform for revenue makes you vulnerable. When all your content is on TikTok, your income can be devastated by a single change in their guidelines. Find other platforms where you can post more content, leverage platforms where your community can directly contribute to your income — like Patreon or Kofi — and even consider creating products that generate income, like courses.
Oh, and before you take the leap, make sure you save a few months’ worth of expenses. That way, a lean month won’t send you running back to your job: “Not earning money is one thing but having $0 in your bank account and no savings is an even bigger problem,” said Lissette Calveiro, a full-time marketing consultant and business coach. She made sure she had about six months of expenses saved up before going full-time.
Build your network
There’s not a single field or profession that doesn’t benefit from strong networking skills, though that’s especially true in content creation. When a big chunk of your income is going to come from brand deals, it’s important to make sure your content is visible to them. That can mean going out of your way to get in touch with the brands you want to work with and getting an idea of the kind of creators they like to sponsor.
But it doesn’t stop with brands.
Mentors and peer groups can help you tremendously. They can help you avoid the common pitfalls of full-time content creation, find new ways to generate income, and give you the pep talk you need to keep going when you feel like you should be giving up. For Natasha Samuel, Instagram strategist and CEO of Shine With Natasha, her mentor helped give her the push she needed to take the leap: “I told my mentor about this idea and she said, ‘Go for it. I’ll give you your first client.’”
It’s all too easy to keep your head down and work when there’s so much you need to be doing. But make sure you have a supportive network before you go full-time. That way you won’t have to worry about building it when you’re putting every waking hour into content creation.
Close out the boring stuff early
Finally getting the opportunity to leave your job and jump into full-time content creation is exciting. You’re probably already thinking of that first day you’ll wake up — whenever you want — and not have to commute for an hour or rush to that 9am meeting. But even though making the shift is exciting, you should get some of the boring stuff squared away before you start. Like getting an accountant.
That’s one thing Natasha wishes she’d done differently: “At the time, I felt like I couldn’t afford [getting an accountant], but I needed to be able to afford it.”
When you start making content full-time, you’ll be firing on all cylinders. That makes it all too easy to forget about some of the important, boring stuff you need to take care of. Things like:
- Separating business income from personal income.
- Figuring out who you want to hire and when.
- Forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company).
- Writing a standard contract for collabs and brand deals.
These are just a few examples of things that will help you tremendously if you check them off early. Do them before you quit your job and you’ll have less to worry about when it’s time to start making stuff.
Content creation is fun, liberating, and empowering, but if you want to be in it for the long haul, you have to set yourself up for success from day one — and be ready to rebound when things don’t go according to plan. Now it’s time to write up that resignation letter and say hello to this new stage in your life.