If I had to pick one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing, it would have to be building a freelance writing business while still working full time at my day job. I did this for two years, from 2000 to 2002, and also in 2008 and 2009 when I had a full time social media job. As much as I love to write, sometimes the last thing I wanted to do after a full day of work was to come home and work again. Plus, many clients want to talk on the phone during business hours, something I couldn’t always give them. I had to find some balance and a way to make it work, especially if I wanted to freelance full time.
You can freelance and work full time and still make it work. Maybe some of these tips will help you achieve some balance too:
Only take as many clients as you can handle
You might be tempted to take as many opportunities as you can in order to build up a client base and save enough money to leave your day job for good. Before you do, make sure you can handle the work load. Also consider how all your spare time will be spent writing. No TV. No reading. No family game night…just work. However, if you take one opportunity at a time until you know how many hours of your time you can devote each evening or weekend, you might find a more doable solution for you and your family. Try one client at a time to start and adjust as necessary.
Set aside time to communicate with clients
Not everyone can call freelance writing clients or handle emails from their days jobs. You might have to handle communication during your lunch hour. You might even have to make those calls from your cell phone from the local deli. The last thing you want is for your moonlighting to interfere with your day job but you can find a workable solution. Not all clients come from 9 to 5 businesses either. Find out whether or not they can talk to you in the evenings or on weekends. You’ll find many are flexible and willing to work with you.
Set a realistic schedule
Working late into the night or rising early in the morning is how many of us found the time to write when we were still working full time. I can’t speak for all the other writers who did this, but I can tell you I was always tired and cranky from rising at 4:00 a.m. If you’re dead tired throughout the day, you won’t be able to focus on your work at night. Set a realistic schedule and don’t let your desire to freelance full time get in the way of everything else you do.
Having a full time job while building a freelance writing business is absolutely doable, but try not to make the mistake of biting off more than you can chew. A common mistake among aspiring freelancers is to keep accepting gigs even if it means sacrificing precious sleeping time. Be careful not to over do it. Start out small and grow as you go.