How I’m able to freelance with a full-time job

Like many freelancers, I started freelancing out of a need for extra money. I began my freelance career having just quit my internship at an agency that didn’t want to offer me the full-time position I was looking for. (To my luck and surprise, the agency closed down about a year later.) At this point, my goal was to earn some money on the side freelancing while looking for full-time employment elsewhere.

Being new to the industry, I knew it would be good to have some agency experience as a basis for starting my own someday. Unfortunately, times were tough in my demographic and a lot of agencies were laying off employees rather than hiring. I needed to look elsewhere so that’s what I did.

A few months went by and I finally found a remote position for a startup as their designer for marketing collateral. The job wasn’t ideal but it was security and the remote was a massive perk as I didn’t plan to quit freelancing. I accepted the position knowing deep down I still wanted to freelance full-time and hoped I would be able to juggle working full-time as well as freelancing on the side.

It took a lot of hours and dedication but I was able to find a way to make things work while still having a full-time job. I think the biggest advantage I had was being able to work remotely. I no longer needed to waste time commuting to and from my day job. Those extra hours could now be put to use, which I am extremely thankful for.

If you have the option to work remotely, even if it’s only a day or two a week, I strongly suggest you try it. If you don’t have that luxury there’s still hope. You’ll have to develop a plan to budget your time in the best manner as you won’t be able to waste any along the way.

Work Life Balance

rocks stacked and balancing in front of the ocean
As if it wasn’t obvious, building a business on the side is a tough challenge because you’re not able to give it the full attention you’d prefer. Balancing life, family, and basically two jobs can be a stressful combination for anyone but that’s not to say it is impossible.

My own goal is to eventually open my own small agency (which is in progress now). Until that time comes, I will continue working full-time as well as freelancing to hopefully be able to drift away from needing a full-time job someday soon. This all means I have to work a lot and make sacrifices to achieve this goal.

Am I willing to sacrifice going out or hanging with friends in lieu of work? The short answer is Yes

I can say yes because I am highly driven to be my own boss. I don’t enjoy working on something that benefits someone else rather than myself. When the only reward is monetary you can bet my heart won’t be in it for long. These may all be selfish things to say, but when it comes down to living life the way I want, I realize I need to take control.

My own situation is likely different from yours and anyone else’s for that matter. And sure, there needs to be some downtime to avoid burnout. I can always plan a few dates to hang with friends or just not be tied to my desk, but working has become the higher priority if I want to meet my goals. It should be the same case for you If you’re interested in doing something similar.

Finding balance is crucial if you want to keep your head on your shoulders. With the right amount of planning, work, and consistency anything is reachable.

What if I can’t work that often?

The rate at which you work doesn’t matter as much as you think if you’re freelancing on the side. Working as a freelancer alongside a full-time position will force you to work a bit more, but it can occur incrementally. The key is consistency. If it takes you twice as long to do freelance work but you commit to it weekly, then so be it. Just politely remind your clients that you need more time based on your workload.

I launched this blog over a year ago now and continue to run it on the side. I’m in charge of everything from content to maintenance. I wish I could spend more time on it but at its current state there just isn’t enough revenue coming in yet.

Despite those granularities, I still manage to contribute to it just about every week as well as send out a newsletter to my subscribers.
On top of the blog, I work full-time as a designer for an e-Learning SaaS project and then freelance on the side. Outside of work I play in a band that gigs most weekends.

I do this all because, for one thing, I love what I do and second because persistence pays off. My readership has increased steadily over the past few months. It’s nothing drastic but enough to keep my process going. I’m getting more clients with my freelance work, and my full-time job is still there for security.

No blog has ever hit the ground running. It usually takes years to see any kind of progression. The key is to consistently work towards your goals. How often you work doesn’t matter so long as you continue to work.

Also, remember that work isn’t everything and taking breaks won’t hurt your progress, but more than likely help it. Taking a step back can benefit you as it allows you to validate the goals you have in place. You can also use this time to compare and contrast the direction you are heading in the direction you strive to head.

There’s no secret formula or magic tools

When it comes down to how I work both freelance and full-time it boils down to this short list:

  • Having or making the time to work towards my goals
  • Committing myself to being productive even when I’d rather not be
  • Making sacrifices
  • Delegating priorities
  • Being consistent
  • Avoiding burnout

Your own list will certainly vary. There’s no secret formula in place to allow you to work the same way I do nor is my way the right way. I’ve found a method that works for me. I’m able to handle a lot at once largely due to my working environment. I don’t need to go into any office since I work remotely. This factor alone makes much of what I do possible.

I don’t need a lot of tools either. Sometimes having too many tools leads you to need tools for your tools! My best advice is to use the tools you are comfortable with. Avoid those you don’t need at all costs. If you find yourself stressed by the amount of tools you need to keep track of, let alone afford, you can probably bet you’re overdoing it and need to thin the herd a little.

Now on to you…Do you freelance full-time or only as a side gig? How do you budget your time? — Let me know in the comments