How to Freelance with a Full-Time Job

The other day I was at dinner with extended family when someone asked me how many jobs I have. I get it. While I only have one full-time job, I am also a freelance writer and a blogger. And while my “day job” is working as a content strategist, I view my work life as comprised of personal undertakings as well. Managing my blog and writing freelance articles are projects that I take seriously and, while I love writing, the work itself can take up a lot of time. I have to regularly concept and pitch articles, write articles and posts, and manage brand partnerships and relationships. How do I do it? Here are my tips for how to freelance with a full-time job.

How to Freelance With a Full-Time Job (2)

How to Freelance With a Full-Time Job:

It can be tricky to find the balance between working your full-time job and pumping life and energy into your freelance or side work.

First of all, there’s the fact that you only have so many hours to work with, and so much brain power to contribute. Everyone has to rest! And not to mention, you have to watch out for issues like conflicts of interest, non-compete contracts, and colliding deadlines. For example, if you created a special way of setting up a JavaScript menu at your full-time job, you might not be allowed to use that same menu with your private clients. Or if you have a major deadline at your full-time job AND in your freelance work, you’ll have to choose to prioritize one or the other.

I’ve found that the keys to freelancing with a full-time job are transparency, passion, time management, drive, and, perhaps most importantly, coffee.

1. Be transparent:

I was hired at my current job because of my experience blogging, my writing skills, and my ability to create and cultivate an online presence. The fact that I could do it on my own was a good indication that I could do the same thing for clients.

Throughout the hiring process, and on my first week on the job, I was really transparent about the fact that I was actively growing my blog and freelance writing portfolio. I asked if that would be a problem and learned that it wouldn’t be at this job.

You should also always read the fine print before signing anything. It’s crucial to check if anything you take on could be in violation of a non-compete or similar contract.

I work at an agency where we represent a wide range of clients in multiple industries. I am always careful to evaluate and ask if there is a conflict of interest with one of my articles, blog posts, or brand partnerships. If I think there could be a problem, I ask right away. As a result, I’ve had to stop blog series, say no to a partnership, or go back to the drawing board on a post, but it’s always worth it because I respect the agency and our clients.

The takeaway? If you’re not sure, always bring the question to your employer.

2. Love what you do:

I am incredibly passionate about growing my blog and my freelance writing career. I am also passionate and energized by my job as a content strategist. This passion has been pivotal to my success thus far. When you are freelancing with a full-time job you’re likely to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing you’ll have a much greater likelihood of success, in part because you enjoy what you do, and in part because you are willing to put in the hours. That’s where the coffee comes in handy.

Also, if you truly love your work, you’re likely to find that both your full-time work and your freelance work feed into each other, so growing and putting time into one doesn’t take away from the other. If you are a digital marketer in the day and build websites as a freelancer, chances are you’ll learn skills and get insights from each experience you can apply to the other. So it really pays to love BOTH your full-time job and your freelance work.

I feel fortunate to work at a job that allows me to also pursue my writing and blogging career. I’ve found that my writing and marketing outside of work makes me better at my job. I am constantly learning about new industries, fostering relationships, being creative, and making my writing stronger. My theory has always been that my full-time job comes first but I know that I’m lucky to be somewhere where I can also focus on other things – on my own time.

3. Stay on schedule:

I write almost all of my blog posts on Sundays and schedule them to go up throughout the week. I like scheduling my content ahead of time so that I can get together with friends, go to networking events, try a fun gym class, go to a museum, and work on pitches, freelance writing, and career profile questions and outreach throughout the week. I also wake up between 6:15 and 6:30 am almost every day so that I can “Wake up an hour early to live an hour more.” It can be really difficult to get into the habit of getting out of bed between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. every day but it gets easier and, in time, becomes a good habit. Due to my early morning routine, I find I am more focused, happy, and alert when I get into the office. It’s crucial to make time for the people and activities you love – otherwise the hard work isn’t worth it.

If the work you’re doing on the side involves sticking to a strict schedule, like freelance web design, the key will be to plan far in advance, and always let your clients know if you’re going to miss a deadline. It helps if you don’t plan to do more than seems possible, and of course, never plan to work on your own private projects during the hours of your full-time job.

4. Get after it:

If you’re going to focus on side projects along with your full-time job, you have to make it clear that you will give 110% at work. I think that if you do great work and consistently exceed expectations, your company will be more accepting of your side project. Do great work and show that you’re willing to put in the hours and the effort.

This same drive and ambition will help you be better at your side projects. When you’re freelancing, building a blog, or building a business, you have to be your own boss. As with anything, there are going to be some parts that energize and excite you and some that don’t. Stay motivated by remembering why you started in the first place…then get a big cup of coffee and get back to work.

I originally wrote this article for Skillcrush. The image is from a blog I love, The Fashionista’s Diary.

37 Responses to How to Freelance with a Full-Time Job

  1. I am looking into doing some more freelance writing, so this is really helpful! When it comes to scheduling posts, I seem to do the best when i schedule all of my posts ahead of time!

    xoxo

  2. This is such a helpful piece! It can be hard to juggle working full-time, blogging, and maintaining a freelance writing schedule. You do it very well, but it is a lot of work. I think staying on schedule is most important, otherwise you can be easily overwhelmed with due dates and your work will suffer.

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  3. Sophie says:

    This is such a great piece. Juggling a blog and a full-time job is tough but key is scheduling and sticking to it. It’s so easy to schedule a time to do what you love and then push it aside because other things of higher priority keep coming up. Love this post!
    xo
    Sophie
    Smitten Sophie

  4. Annaliese says:

    These are such great tips for time management! Also- go you for having your official job, blog, and so much freelancing!!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  5. Alessandra says:

    I face the exact same predicament and I’m so incredibly glad that you wrote this article! It really does make a difference if you’re passionate about what you’re writing about. I also reserve a day or two to finish up all of my writing. It makes it so much easier to focus!

    Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog

  6. Mikayla says:

    This is awesome! Loving what you do is a main factor is succeeding. I love this and just bookmarked this post.

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

  7. Really loved this post – I’m always having a hard time managing a full time job with my blog and these are some really great tips!

    Pick Your Beau

  8. Jenny says:

    So helpful!
    I really enjoy posts like this.
    I definitely write all my posts on Sunday to prepare for the week ahead as well too!

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  9. Alexandra Hollander says:

    Thank you for this post, it was super helpful! I’m currently a student and managing being a writer for three online publications and blogging, so I could definitely apply this to my life
    Alexandra | http://www.cloudyskiesandsunshine.com

  10. Jordyn says:

    You seriously have no idea how excited I was when I saw the title of your post! I am currently adjusting to working freelance and balancing my day job (and blog hobby) as well. Your tips are so helpful, it’s nice to read the perspective of someone who is a few steps ahead of me (:

  11. Courtney says:

    Great post! I definitely experience the challenges of having both a full-time job and blogging. I’m very open about it at work, which helps tremendously and has also helped me gain the support of my co-workers. Great tips hun!

    Xo,
    Courtney
    http://www.courtneyfashionista.com

  12. Savannah says:

    I really love this post because it encouraged me to think about balancing what you love and what you have to do, and I’ve never really thought about how to balance before. I’m not saying you can’t love your full time job, though! I think that #4 is very true and something that I’ll have to remember when I get out into the “real world.” 🙂

    Savannah from http://thealwaysblog.com

  13. You have no idea how much I appreciate this post! I firmly believe that blogging helps me with my job, and that’s why I put so much energy into it. I also like to write my posts on Sundays 🙂

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  14. MACARENA FERREIRA says:

    Thank you for this! I actually recently turned down a (great) job because they wouldn’t let me have freedom with my blog. They basically wanted me to stop posting and be solely “theirs.” I couldn’t accept. I love what I do and I’m confident my blog will be successful one day!

    Hope this help other people that are in a similar position!

    xo // http://www.thematerialgirl.co

  15. Ally Gagliardo says:

    People are always asking what I do and I’m just like “Well….” and start listing all of the things I am involved in and how I make money! I definitely needed this post because I’m starting to get “real jobs”.

    Ally |

  16. Lauren says:

    Love your picture! Hehe!! So happy it made it to this post! <3. Luckily, I don't currently have a full-time job but I am a full-time student and have a part-time job so does that count? These are great tips, though! I think balance is everything. Fingers crossed I can full-time blog when I graduate! I once worked at a retail store before I started my job and had to quit because they told me I couldn't have a blog and blog about other companies. Some people are really crazy about it so being transparent is a must.

    xo
    Lauren
    The Fashionista’s Diary

  17. Michaela says:

    I don’t know a lot about freelancing but I loved reading this! My career has NOTHING to do with blogging/writing/PR/marketing like a lot of blogger girls but the struggles of juggling a full time job and blogging will definitely be a challenge!

    Michaela || The Monogrammed Midwesterner

  18. Ashley says:

    Such a great post! I am a teacher and balancing both my career and blogging can sometimes be tricky. I love the summers when I can devote all of my time to blogging, but know there will be some juggling once the school year starts! I truly appreciate this advice and found it extremely insightful!

    xo Ashley
    Twenties Girl Style

  19. Chelsea White says:

    Ok, Im not gonna lie.. this article was everything I needed. I have wondered constantly whats going to happen if my blog does not become the main focus of my career. Definitely saving this under my “inspo” tab!! Xo
    Chelsea // trendychelsea.wordpress.com

  20. Briana says:

    Top 5 favorite articles you’ve ever written, bookmarked forever & ever 🙂 Thank you!!

  21. I work full time, blog, and take care of our little girl. It sure is a struggle to balance, but thankfully I’ve created s routine of how things work!

  22. Timothy says:

    This is such an awesome piece! I’m trying to find time to freelance in between school, blogging, working at a startup, and having a part-time job. Absolutely no time for anything else besides sleep :/

  23. Brittany says:

    I feel like this post relates to all of us bloggers who don’t blog full time. I’m currently a full time student and I struggle staying on track. These concise steps are really helpful and I can’t wait to implement them in my life!

    xx. Brittany | Southern Soul

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      Thank you, Brittany. I agree! These tips have helped me manage blogging and everything else.

  24. Sara Holt says:

    Thanks for the tips! I find it so hard to juggle my job as a teacher, wife, mom, and blogger. But staying on a schedule definitely helps in making it easier!

  25. Alicia says:

    This post is amazing. I work full-time as well and balancing my blog and some of the freelance projects I pick up here and there can be time consuming. I completely agree about being transparent — my first job that I had, my immediate supervisor knew I blogged but the president of the company didn’t, and it caused awkward tension at my position. Now I mention my blog in every job interview I go on! Thank you for this!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  26. Yup, yup, and yup! It’s such a balance, and I’ve learned this summer that it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you love what you do if you’re going to attempt to balance a “full time real world job” with another full time – and fully real world – online job. I’ve started waking up at 5:30 to hit the gym before my 9-5 to give me more time later in the day for blog work…I don’t know how long my body will take it, but for now it’s the goal!

    Coming Up Roses

  27. What amazingly helpful tips! Great for all bloggers who have to play the juggling game!

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