How to Start Freelancing While Keeping Your Day Job
Jumping headfirst into freelancing may be exhilarating, but leaves you open to a myriad of unnecessary risks. The first few months as a freelance can be incredibly tough, so you may quickly find yourself in an uncomfortable position without a safety net in place.
Of course, you can still give freelancing a fair shot! I recommend freelancing on the side at first, waiting for the opportune moment to quit your nine-to-five job. It doesn’t sound as sexy, but offers some stability while you get your freelance career off the ground. In fact, that’s exactly what I did when I started freelancing a long time ago.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to know if you’re ready to start freelancing full time and how to balance your new career with your ‘normal’ job. Let’s jump right in!
Are You Ready to Freelance Full Time?
Before you make any decisions, it’s important to know all the pros and cons of going full-time with your new career. Let’s start with the pros.
4 Benefits of Freelancing on the Side
First off, it doesn’t matter whether you only take occasional gigs as your time allows or earn a full-time living from your online work. Either way, you’re still a freelancer.
Some people might take you less seriously because you’re freelancing on the side. However, this choice actually comes with some pretty nice benefits, such as:
- You can stay on your company’s healthcare plan and enjoy their umbrella tax benefits.
- If you have a bad month freelancing (which happens to everyone), you’ll still have money to pay the bills.
- It gives you time to build up a client list without any financial pressure to take on low-paying gigs.
- You can take the time to build a portfolio with exceptional work.
If your current employer pays you well and you have enough free time, taking on freelance gigs without quitting first can be smart. Juggling a day job and freelancing at the same time has its own challenges, of course, but it enables you to switch over to full-time freelancing only when you’re 100% ready.
Of course, some of you might not have the luxury of taking on side gigs. For example, you might have lost your job recently, or maybe your contract doesn’t allow it. If that’s the case then, by all means, give freelancing your all.
3 Signs You Should Wait to Go Full Time
I’m not one for discouraging people from giving freelancing a shot. After all, I love it! However, there are cases where jumping into the deep end isn’t advisable. For example:
- No income streams: You don’t have any clients yet.
- Barely any cash: You don’t have much (or anything) in the way of savings.
- Little experience: You have zero experience in the field you want to freelance.
When I started freelancing, I was working in a call center making minimum wage. The hours were good though, and I had plenty of time to read and do research when I wasn’t on the phone. Despite being mind-numbingly dull, it was also the perfect environment for me to start freelancing on the side.
The only problem is, back then I didn’t have that much experience in any of the fields I work today. In fact, my first foray into freelancing was translating from English to Spanish – and vice-versa – for ridiculously low wages. Still, it was extra money, and it enabled me to build up some savings before I jumped into freelancing full time.
If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve chosen to start freelance writing right away instead of trying to be a jack of all trades. Then, I could’ve set up a portfolio and quit my day job after getting a few serious clients under my belt. If you feel like you’re not quite ready yet, you should definitely check out our Paid to Blog Course. It’ll help you strengthen up your writing skills and set up a portfolio so you can get started on the right foot.
How to Balance Your Day Job and Your Freelance Work
Balancing two jobs is always stressful. It doesn’t matter if you’re freelancing as a puppy walker – that’s still time that you could’ve spent resting from your other gig. The only way to make it work is to know what your limits are.
When I started out, I took on as much freelance work as I could find. It was fine for a while, but eventually, the lack of rest and free time caught to me, and I burned out. Not only did that make be worse at both my jobs, but it also cost me potential work.
At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s better to make steady progress than to take on more than you can chew at once. That way, you’ll always be in a state where you can deliver your best work, and you’ll be happier overall. Here is my three part system for maintaining a decent quality of life while working a day job and freelancing:
- I set aside at least one or two days a week where I could just rest after work and hang out with my friends.
- I made sure not to take on more freelance work than I could deliver in a reasonable time, without pulling any all-nighters.
- Getting enough sleep! These days, I’m more of a caffeine fiend than ever, but it’s mostly because I enjoy the taste. Gone are the days when I had to drink the stuff all day long just to stay awake.
Those are the basic steps you should keep in mind when you start freelancing on the side. This way, you won’t burn yourself out in the process.
Keep in mind – your mileage may vary when it comes to what you need to do to stay stress-free. Some people love to exercise or cook, and you need to find time to do what makes you happy to stay healthy. Otherwise, you may end up with more money in your bank account, but you won’t be enjoying it much.
A lot of people think jumping right into freelancing full-time is the way to go, but I beg to differ. If you can handle the extra workload, then freelancing on the side is definitely the safest route.
While there are ways to balance having two jobs, it’s important to remember this solution is temporary! Eventually, you’ll want to evaluate between going freelance full time, or sticking with your day job. However, freelancing on the side is a good way to determine whether freelancing is the right choice for you without taking on all the risks that come with it.
Do you have any questions about balancing a normal full-time job while also freelancing? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.