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How To Build Your Freelance Career While Holding Down A Full Time Job

Updated on November 27, 2014

Make It Possible

One of the common misconceptions about Freelancing, is that you can quit your day job on the 31st December, start your Freelancing career on the 1st of January, and make a comfortable living by the end of the first month. Oh boy, if this was true, we’d all be living the dream by now, wouldn't we?

So, do you want to be a Freelancer? Then don’t quit your day job just yet. Instead, find the balance between juggling a full time career and freelancing. Build up a client base, build a good reputation; and when the time is right, walk away from your job knowing you won't starve due to a lack of income.

How, I hear you ask?

Let’s look at some ways, and start juggling.

Work arrangements:

Discuss any alternative work arrangements with your employer.
These could include, but are not limited to:

  • a different work schedule
  • transitioning from a full day to half day post if your budget allows.
  • Perhaps even working 4 days instead of 5.
  • How about working from home, if your company has such practices in place? More and more companies offer telecommuting options.
  • If you work far from home, you might have the option of transferring to a branch in your area, cutting down on travelling time to and from work.

Organize Your Time:

How many hours of your free time are you going to dedicate to Freelancing? Set up a schedule and stick to it.

Your options include:

  • Waking up an hour or two earlier,
  • Going to bed a little bit later.
  • How about squeezing in some Freelancing time during your lunch break/tea time.
  • If you commute to work, think of ways to use that time wisely. Dedicating weekends are also an option.

In my case, I take the bus to work. This gives me a total of 3 “wasted” hours per day. When I have an assignment or article to finish, I do my research in the morning before I leave for work (Yes, this means getting up earlier.) I jot down a few notes and try to organize my thoughts on the trip to work. Whenever I have a free moment during the day, I’d plan my article, add or remove certain points, and so on. On the trip home, I’d formulate my notes into something resembling an article or blog post, sometimes even writing the full draft. After all, it’s been brewing somewhere in my brain, or my notebook, for the better part of the day. When I get home, I’ll polish my article off nicely, add the final touches and send it where it has to go. Simple.

Ask for Help:

You’re going to need it. If you can outsource some of your Freelancing tasks, do it!

  • Virtual assistants are available in abundance, and can help with anything from research, to correspondence or proof reading.
  • If you have a support group of friends and family, ask for help with daily activities. Be it fetching kids, helping with household chores, or just having someone to listen when you need to talk.
  • If asking doesn't come naturally to you, read up on Amanda Palmer’s The Art Of Asking or what her TED Speech (it changed my life.) Chances are, if you don’t ask for help, you’re more than likely to burn out long before your reach your goal of Freelancing full time.

I have a very understanding partner who helps where he can, but more than that, motivates me every step of the way.

Have a portable work kit:

This sounds like a step you skip, but it’s really not. Your work kit could be a bag to hold your laptop, notebook, research materials, writing equipment, etc. Having this with you at all times means you’re prepared and ready to go when you have a few moments to spare. Take your laptop to work and work during your lunch hour. Carry a notebook with you when new ideas pop out of nowhere.

Your work kit can even be an iPad only. I have a virtual work kit, floating around in a cloud. (See what I did there?) I’ve set up ITTT recipes to deliver writing leads straight to my mail, I write and edit my articles in Google Drive and I save any research notes to Evernote. I can access all of these from my laptop, phone and tablet. I’m always connected and always ready to work.

These are just some of my personal suggestions that I’ve incorporated to juggle both careers. I’m not quite at the quitting-my-day-job part just yet, but I’m getting there, one step at a time. Can you add any tips of your own? Have you already transitioned from a full time career to freelancing? Please let me know in the comments below.

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