Can I Have a Successful Part-Time Freelance Career While Keeping My Day Job?

Having a side business while you work a full-time job can, in some ways, offer you the best of both worlds- a regular paycheck on the one hand, and the flexibility to choose exactly how much time you are put into feeding your passion on the other. This week's video explains the pros, cons, and considerations relating to juggling both a day job and a part-time freelance career on the side. Speaking from personal experience, it can be done and done well!


Full Transcript:

Hey there, Laura here from Better Biz Academy.

Today, I am pulling a topic that I get emailed about a lot, for people who are thinking about taking my freelance writing course or my freelance editing course or my how to become a VA course. And the question is "Hey, I already have a full-time job and I don’t really want to leave it. Can I still have a freelance career?"

 

Freelancing offers a level of flexibility not found anywhere else

And this is perhaps what is the coolest thing about having a freelance career. There are so many benefits. First of all, it is flexible. You get to set your own hours. You get to choose who you do and don't work with. You have basically unlimited earning potential. You can get up and move and live anywhere and do this. But, a huge reason that I love freelancing personally is because you can have a full-time job and do freelancing on the side.

I speak from experience because I did it for a year and I know lots of other people who have a day job and freelance on the side. Freelancing can easily become your full-time income, if you wanted it to but plenty of people are happy in their job situations and love the benefits they have at work and actually don’t want to transition into freelancing full-time. So, for that, this answer is for all of you out there who are thinking "Oh hey, I want to start this business but I am not sure if it is something I have to give my 100% commitment to, and will I have to quit my other job and abandon all my other responsibilities?" No! I could just tell you that upfront, you don't need to do that. You can work on this business 2 to 5 hours a week if you want. You can work on it 50 hours a week if you want. You need to scale your client workload in line with the amount of time that you're dedicating and the amount of time you have.

If you are also going to have a day job and be a freelancer of any type, you are going to need to be mindful about who you work with. So, a client who wants multiple phone calls throughout the day probably isn’t the best fit for somebody who has a day job where they have to sit at a desk and work around co-workers. So, when I had a day job, I was really choosy about who I worked with. I would occasionally do phone calls with clients but they could only be between 12 and 1 or after work hours because I was on the clock for somebody else during that time and this just wasn't going to work. So, you got to be mindful of that.

You will want to work on projects where the deadline is somewhat flexible so they are not going to expect you to be online at 3 o’clock in the afternoon while you are at your day job. They just want it turned in by 3, so you could turn it in early if you wanted to. One snag that I see people potentially make with this is, especially in the VA world, if you see like a customer support VA, or even in the freelance writing world where you take an editing shift, you may be responsible for specific hours and that is not often the best fit for somebody who has a day job because you are already going to have these set hours designated for something else. So, you would be better off taking projects where the client doesn't really care about when you are online to do the work but they really care much more about you completing the work within a particular deadline. So, I want you to keep that in mind.

As I said already, you can make this freelance career work for you as much or as little as you want.  Now, you are always going to have to spend some time marketing. So, if you have 5 hours a week to devote to a freelance business, at the beginning, you are probably spending 4 to all 5 of those doing marketing because you don't have any clients yet. But as your business grows, hopefully you will be spending 3 to 4 of those working on client projects and the other part on marketing.

If you don’t want to leave your day job, freelancing can still be for you- you just have to find a way to make it work for your schedule. And I know lots of people who do it. They view this as their side hustle, their opportunity to make extra money for vacations or kids' Christmas gifts and it really benefits people because think about the alternative- if you wanted to make extra money for your family and you had to go out and get a job say, at a retail store, you are at the mercy of the manager of that store as far as scheduling, you may have capped hours, you may have to work nights and weekends. You don’t have to commit to any particular thing when you work on a freelance project so long as you meet deadlines. So, you could work on your projects in the morning, you can work on them in the afternoon while the kids are down for a nap, as long as you meet the client's end deadline. Not many other jobs have that tremendous amount of flexibility.

 

Freelancing has a relatively low barrier to entry

Another reason to consider freelancing in comparison to other types of side jobs is you don’t need a lot of equipment or training to get started. You may need to teach yourself a couple of things. You know, different software programs if you are a VA or how to write the type of content that you are going to deliver to your clients as a freelance writer. But if you have a computer and Wi-Fi, you have got pretty much everything you need to have this digital career. You don’t have to go out and invest in really expensive training courses, go get another degree, drive or commute to another job. It is so flexible and it can easily fit in around your responsibilities.

The entire first year of my freelance writing and virtual assistant business, I was a full time graduate student, going to three classes a week at night and then I also worked a day job. So, I worked from 8.30 to 5. Three of those nights I drove from 5 to 6.30 to my classes. I had classes 6:45 to 9:00 and then I would drive an hour back home. So, I did almost all of my freelance work on the weekends. It was the only time I could cram it in. So, that is just to share with you that you can make this work and you can make it work as much as you want. Now I could have easily stayed on having a day job and just continued to persist with growing my business but it became so busy that it was impossible to do both of them together at the same time anymore. What other job puts you in control of that much, where you can decide how much money and how much time you want to get out of this entire experience? 

If you have been thinking about starting a freelance career, I have got lots of great free tools, blogs and podcasts over at betterbizacademy.com. I would love to hear more about the freelance business you hope to start and whether it is going to be a side hustle or you are looking to transition out of that day job.

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