This is part 1 of a 4 part series that looks at different approaches to freelancing and which one may be best for your situation.
Work a full-time job while freelancing
Freelancing is one of the most flexible careers you could have. In Part 1, let’s take a look at what is probably the most common arrangement—working full-time while freelancing (or moonlighting, as it is often called).
Working full-time certainly has its advantages—a steady paycheck and benefits such as health insurance, 401(k), paid vacation, paid sick time, profit sharing, and vision plan are the most notable. A few of the more employee-centered companies may even offer non-traditional benefits such as flex time, telecommuting, daycare, paid gym membership or a multitude of other benefits.
Chances are you don’t have to worry about being responsible for bringing in new clients, paying the rent, making payroll, purchasing new equipment, hiring or firing. You can focus on what you do best — design, programming, writing, illustration, photography, etc.
Most likely, you work a set schedule, say 9 am–5 pm from Monday–Friday. You can plan to do things, knowing your evenings and weekends are free. If you’re not a salaried employee, you probably get paid overtime for any additional hours you work.
Working for a company or agency also gives you a place to go, a routine to establish and a group of peers with whom to associate. You may not realize it, but you benefit from the social interaction of a work environment.
Now, combine working full-time with freelancing.
By freelancing, you can earn more, have more creative freedom, enjoy the satisfaction of building up your own business and get all the credit for a successful project.
Especially if you’re just starting out in your career, the supplemental income from freelancing can help you save for your first apartment, buy your first home, get married, start a family, etc. You can work as much or as little as you want, generally speaking, because you know you have that steady paycheck coming in from your full-time job and that your benefits are covered.
Sounds like working full-time and freelancing is perfect, right? Unfortunately, it’s often not. There is a downside that may not be obvious in the very beginning.
There are no perfect companies. OK, maybe one or two. But most often, your full-time job can become a great source of stress. You may have an overbearing, controlling boss whom you can’t seem to please. Or maybe you disagree with your boss’ decisions or actions. You have to deal with office politics and unruly co-workers. You get stuck doing tasks that you don’t feel should be part of your job. You have to play by the rules — someone else’s rules — which is sometimes hard to swallow for creatives.
Maybe you haven’t received a raise in a long time. Your living expenses keep going up, but your pay stays the same—so you are ultimately losing money.
The economy takes a downturn and you face uncertainty of job cuts or worry about business. Suddenly, the security of that steady paycheck and benefits doesn’t seem so secure anymore.
You work long hours at nights and on weekends freelancing. Maybe you don’t mind the work, but it’s starting to affect your relationship with your spouse, your family or your friends. Everyone else is out having a good time, but you’ve got this big project that’s due, so you’re stuck in front of the computer. You feel as if you are working two full-time jobs.
In my experience working full-time and freelancing can allow you the income level you desire to achieve the things you want, but comes at a price. The long hours, the lost time with friends and loved ones—all need to be taken into consideration. Weigh all of your options and decide if this is the best move for you. I recommend this situation if you’re trying to achieve specific goals, but not as a long term solution.
Are you currently working a full-time job while freelancing? What challenges do you face? How long do you expect to do both? Please take a moment to comment below and let me know what you think!