How I Replaced My Day Job Income Within 3 Months of Quitting

quit and replaced day job income

I quit my day job on May 1, 2013 and began pursuing my online business. I was making $3,000 a month at my accounting job with the goal of replacing that income with freelance work once I quit.

In just 3 months I easily replaced my previous day job income and then some. (See the screenshot below of the exact breakdown.)

If you’re ready to quit and replace your day job income, but need a plan of action then continue reading. I’m sharing what I did and the steps you can take to get similar results.

replace job income after quitting
Screenshot for income I earned on the side of my accounting job.

Strive for big goals

Before quitting your job you need a plan (duh!). How else are you going to hit your income goals if you don’t have a plan for achieving them?

Obviously one of the most appealing ideas is to create a location independent business as a freelancer that you can take with you anywhere. This will give you the freedom to travel, take time off, and be more spontaneous (hello weekday getaway and never having to ask for permission off work again!).

This was my big goal. I wanted to replace my day job income while having the freedom and flexibility of taking time off work whenever I wanted. No more asking for permission!

What’s your big income goal? Write it down on a paper. Create a vision board. Put it on Pinterest. Make sure your goal is in front of you all the time, reminding you of why you’re working so hard.

Start a lateral side hustle

To truly maximize the money you can make over the next 90 days you’ll want to leverage your previous career background and work history going forward. That way you’re not starting from scratch but rather making a lateral transition into freelancing or consulting.

For example, I started my career as a bookkeeper/business accountant and then transitioned into a financial writer, and am now a financial consultant for other freelancers and business owners. It’s all essentially the same field of experience, but I present it in a different way and through a different medium (online versus in person).

What past experience do you have that can be transitioned into freelance work so you can use the same portfolio to expand your body of work?

Get paid to learn

In the beginning stages of your freelance business it’s difficult to find your first client. Hopefully you’ve already built up a solid portfolio or client list while you were working at your day job. But if not, you still have options!

Make a list of 3-5 entrepreneurs who you’re crushing on (business-wise), someone you want to be most like, or “grow up to be” when your business is successful. Then start religiously following them.

  • Sign up for the newsletter
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Request access to a Facebook group
  • Watch videos
  • Listen to podcasts

Whatever this person is doing, you want to be consuming it. Why? Because, sooner or later, they will be hiring people to help grow their business and you will be the perfect person for the job.

Online business owners want to hire people within their community, who understand their brand, their voice, and their mission. If you’ve been following them for a few months, they will be more than happy to pay you to learn from and assist them.

I did this by following Alexis Grant, and she ended up my first big client. I learned everything about email marketing, blogging, SEO, client communication, and tons more, from working with her. I also received countless referrals and excelled at my writing business because of her council.

Don’t burn bridges

One of the toughest things about quitting your job is that you may lose the respect of your boss or colleagues. Will they hate that you’re leaving? How will they cope without you? Will your boss be mad?

The good news is that you can quit without pissing anyone off, if you go about it the right way. Make sure you give your boss ample notice that you’re quitting. I turned in my notice in January and only walked out the door on May 1st — that was over 4 months, which was plenty of time for them to adjust to my decision, and find, hire, and train my replacement.

Additionally, your ex boss may want to keep you as a contracted consultant for the company, or they can refer you to their friends who could become your first clients.

During my quitting transition period, I was able to work with another oil and gas business owner to manage his books, and I know several other freelancers who transitioned to contract work while launching their freelance work.

Be intentional with your time

In order to grow and expand your business you have to spend money to make money. But think of it as an investment in your business. You can’t physically do everything you want to when there are only 24 hours in the day (and some of those are spent sleeping and eating — ya know, doing things you need to stay alive!).

Even when my blog and business was a side hustle I outsourced work to a virtual assistant. I hired an assistant editor to help me manage different projects and I had a VA help out with bookkeeping and admin tasks.

Whether you’re balancing a side hustle alongside your day job, or running your own freelance business as the boss, you have to be intentional with where you spend your time and money. Ask yourself;

“Will this project/client/idea help me earn more while working less?”

Continue moving forward if the answer is yes, and stop wasting time on it if the answer is no.

This could involve outsourcing work to contractors, or investing a bit of time or money into systems, tools, apps, and other processing to make your business run smoother and more efficiently.

It’s okay to spend money as a budding entrepreneur, just make sure you do in a way that has a nearly-guaranteed return on investment.

Start a blog

I wouldn’t have been able to quit my job if I didn’t have a blog. That’s the truth! Having an online presence (a living portfolio as I like to call it) will put you miles ahead of the competition, help you stand out, and even allow clients to come to you instead of you having to find them.

Having a blog builds credibility, showcases your skills, and can connect you with some of the most influential people in the industry. Plus, you can leverage it to work with big brands or startups as a way to earn additional revenue, when done properly.

As an added bonus, it doesn’t take a lot of money to start a blog. In fact, you can do it with less than $200 and be up-and-running very quickly. Really, all you need is a bit of time, a good handle on writing copy, and dedication.

Develop relationships not networks

Blogging expert Mariah Coz has built her entire six figure blogging business through, what she calls, network hacking. Essentially she focuses on building relationships with people — making real genuine connections — not networking (for networking’s sake), or trolling through job boards for gigs.

Likewise, my entire freelance business has been established through building relationships with people one-on-one. I’ve never once used a job board to get any of my clients or referrals. It’s taken a lot longer to build up my network but it converts at an extremely high rate, so to speak.

Why? Because my network consists of friends and colleagues that actually care about me (and I care about them) so we mutually want to see each other succeed. This is one reason I started The Careful Cents Club and am constantly collaborating with other entrepreneurs.

Ready to replace your day job income?

If you’re ready to quit, and replace your day job income, stay tuned for another FREE workshop this month!

I currently earn over $8,000 a month and I’m the breadwinner for my small family. I quit my day job two years ago and plan to dive deeper into the four major steps you can take to quit, launch, and earn.

You want to be in more control of your career and finances, right? Then join the Careful Cents newsletter to be informed of upcoming workshops and live trainings! You’ll get an insider’s look at how I quit my job and got started as a freelancer.

Are you in the process of quitting your job, or hoping to soon? What’s your plan for replacing your income?

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  1. Kirsten says:

    I am SO glad that you shared the point about building real, honest connections. I am not much of a networker. You know, I can do it, but it always feels sleazy. I am in it for something, and the other party knows it, but we do this little dance…

    I would much rather just be who I am. I’m a naturally helpful person (even though I have relatively little experience myself, I have helped others start in freelancing). I would rather just be me and let the jobs fall out from that! It’s good to know that the “approach” works 🙂

    • Carrie says:

      Exactly! That’s totally how I am too, Kirsten. I’ve always focused on building genuine relationships because the “quick and sleazy” way just didn’t jive with me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Great post Carrie! I’m working on this now and with a gig I landed last week, I’m finally starting to feel a bit more comfortable about the decision I made to quit my job recently.

  3. Mickey says:

    Yes to the non-sleazy networking dance. I’m so glad that someone who is doing freelancing so well is doing it on their own terms. It shows that it’s possible.

    • Carrie says:

      Absolutely, Mickey! It takes a bit longer in the beginning but works out to be MUCH better in the end, and even excels the sleazy networking techniques. I’ve proven it works — and you don’t have to sell out!

  4. Ginger says:

    I agree! Developing genuine relationships is so important as a freelancer if you want long-term clients. I also like the point you made about not burning any bridges; a former client can most definitely be a client again!

    Building a portfolio helps a lot, and although it may be difficult at the beginning, keep learning and providing quality work, and for sure you’ll get to your desired income down the line.

  5. Sussan says:

    Thanks for sharing, Carrie. I’ve recently left my job and have started learning about online marketing, and in particular, blogging. Your advice and insight is really helpful for me. Much appreciated.

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