This was my early experience in freelancing on the side. I was foolish on the business side of things, and fumbled with each inquiry that came my way. Whether they were family, friends or acquaintances, I felt obligated to accept all projects and at a reduced rate to please them. Just thinking about this time now makes me cringe at my insecurities and inability to treat each project as a business and not a hobby.
I’ve learned a few tricks along the way in navigating the waters of freelancing while holding a day job. If you’re in this position now, man do I feel for you! Not only are you fully committed to your day job, but you are also juggling the challenges of freelance projects on the side. Maybe your goal is to transition to a full time freelance business, or possibly you just enjoy the extra income freelancing provides. Either way, I freelanced on the side for years and learned quite a few lessons along the way.
Hoping these nuggets alleviate your burdens, and provide clarity in your freelance journey. Let’s jump to it:
Treat it as a business
Just because you work a full time job, does not discredit the freelance projects you accept on the side. If I could give my full time employee self some words of wisdom, I would share that though it seems insignificant in comparison to the day job, it isn’t. Freelancing — no matter the scale of the project — is a business and should be treated as such.
This means that professionalism is key, project schedules should exist and an established process is a must. Just as these elements exist in your day job (or at least you hope they would!), they should hold a priority in freelancing. Though it seems insignificant to create a project schedule, this will only help both you and the client.
Avoid over committing
Hey there side-freelancer! I’ve been there, and the balance between your day job and side projects is tough. Maybe you’re reading this and scoffing — what balance?!? I hear ya there too. No matter the job, 40+ hours of work can be draining. Trying to find the energy to get renewed and inspired for your side business is a challenge.
I remember those late nights, lunch breaks at the office and weekends spent designing away for my freelance clients. On one hand, I was invigorated that I was earning some side income, however I was also left feeling overwhelmed.
Because this dilemma is all too familiar to side-freelancers, I’m giving you permission to say no to projects and avoid over committing. Though a client may want to rush through a project, you’ve got a full work load and can feel justified in admitting you require more time for design. You don’t have to accept every potential client.
Through setting boundaries in your side freelance business, you can give the clients you do work with the devoted attention they deserve. Not only that, but your full time job won’t suffer from your thriving side business. Only commit to the projects that work with your full schedule, excite you, and pay adequately for your valuable time.
As a full time employee, you are in a unique position as a freelancer. Your day job provides steady income, possibly enough to cover your monthly expenses. Because you aren’t relying completely on your freelance income, you can breath easy and get picky with the types of clients you accept. Just as when you apply to a new job, you can be very particular in where you work. You’ve got a good thing going right now regarding income stability, so feel free to only accept clients who are worth your precious (and little) time. Is the investment worth nights spent away from friends and binge watching Netflix? Does the client excite you? Is this the type of work that will build your portfolio in a direction you want to pursue?
Ask yourself these questions before booking a client. You have a unique upper hand if you aren’t reliant on this additional income. Make sure each freelance project meets your standards, and don’t be afraid to get picky with your clients!
Download the freelance blueprint!
Freelancing while working full-time is challenging to say the least. If you’re looking for next steps and a guide to freelancing, I’ve got ya covered!
In anticipation for the Share-worthy Design for Freelancers course — opening on Sept. 7, 2016 — I’m releasing a limited time resource for those who are looking to step up their freelance game. Download your free Freelance Blueprint to get started. You’ll also stay in the loop for the upcoming course launch in the coming weeks!