Leaving Work Behind

How to Start Freelancing While Keeping Your Day Job

Written by Alexander Cordova on August 22, 2017. 5 Comments

A man working on a laptop.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:

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:

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:

  1. I set aside at least one or two days a week where I could just rest after work and hang out with my friends.
  2. I made sure not to take on more freelance work than I could deliver in a reasonable time, without pulling any all-nighters.
  3. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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5 Responses to “How to Start Freelancing While Keeping Your Day Job”

  1. Nilotpal Bhuyan
    August 29, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I have a full time job as a senior level systems (both hardware & software/database) trouble shooter for my company. But I have almost 80% of my time free. Troubleshooting happens only once in a blue moon. So I would like to take up freelancing on the side. I have no idea how to proceed. Please advise.

    • Alexander Cordova
      August 30, 2017 at 3:40 am

      Sounds like you’re in the perfect situation for freelancing! The first thing you should do is figure out what types of projects you want to work on. For example, do you want to freelance as a troubleshooter or maybe try your hand at something else?

      It’s always best to freelance doing something you’re good at, though. That way you can charge full rates and use your experience to help you land jobs.

      The second step is to find out where freelancers in your field look for work. If you were a writer, I’d recommend the Paid to Blog jobs board, but your field is much more specific. You probably want to try something like Toptal, considering your experience.

      That’s pretty much it for starters. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

  2. INNOCENT
    August 29, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I work as a business manager in a distribution company. I really love this idea of freelancing especially with my experiences over the years in business development and consultancy but hardly have time to do so. How do i start? Need help please.

    • Alexander Cordova
      August 30, 2017 at 3:48 am

      That’s a tough one, honestly. I mean, if you don’t have any free time there’s really no way around that unless you quit your job, which of course, isn’t a smart thing to do if you’re comfortable there.

      What I’d do in your situation is maybe dedicate my weekends to looking for freelance projects and try to dedicate at least an hour or two to them every day. It’s not optimal, but for someone with your experiences, chances are you’ll be able to find projects with flexible deadlines.

      At some point, if you want to continue freelancing, you’ll want to cut back on your day job, but that’s still on the horizon.

      Finally, it’s worth noting the area you want to freelance in isn’t something that you can easily find jobs for online (I think). You’ll probably want to network at industry events and offer people your assistance for individual projects.

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