Multi-Jobbing: Freelancing On The Clock

Freelancing On The JobIt can be tempting for freelancers who are employed full-time to slip in a bit of “personal” work during office hours. Whether it’s answering client emails, scribbling some concept designs or writing a full website, attending to your freelancing whilst on someone else’s dime is a risky business.

What I’m going to suggest in this article, though, is quite different.

If you’re a full-time or part-time freelancer in need of a bit of extra cash to make ends meet, look for a job which allows you to freelance whilst earning: taking multi-tasking to the whole new level of multi-jobbing. (Also known as “empty job” freelancing.)

Get Paid For Being There

In order to make this work you need to find a job which basically pays you for being there, rather than for doing stuff. These jobs don’t usually pay very well, but they do give you ample free time — and with little else to do but twiddle your thumbs you can easily get on with your freelancing.

Some examples are:

  • Babysitting
  • House-sitting
  • Receptionist jobs (especially if you’re willing to work the night shift)
  • Some sorts of jobs where you’re on call, like technical support
  • Medical trials

I currently babysit for a couple of lovely girls twice a week. I’m mainly paid to be there — they’re old enough to occupy themselves most of the time — so I take my laptop along and get an hour or so of freelance work done in between walking them home from school and cooking their dinner. Evening shifts are even better; once the kids are in bed I have several hours in which I can get work done.

There are a few drawbacks to multi-jobbing, though. The first is usually the lack of equipment (e.g. no internet connection, or no computer at all). The second difficulty is the number of interruptions related to the job.

Both of these can be overcome with a little forward planning.

Difficulty #1 — Lack Of Equipment

Some freelancers have it easier than others when it comes to being able to work from anywhere. Copywriters can get away with any old computer and a USB pen (or, in a real pinch, a notebook and an actual pen). Graphic designers and computer programmers will have more problems.

If you’ve got access to a computer (either your own laptop, or a machine at the place you’re working), you can get some useful stuff done — even if you don’t have an internet connection. How about writing those lengthy emails you’ve been putting off (you can send them once you’re online again)?

If you don’t even have a computer, you can still make profitable use of your time. Why not take along some of those books and journals you’ve been wanting to read, or sketch out ideas for your next project in your notebook?

Difficulty #2 –Frequent Interruptions

If you’re being paid to be somewhere, chances are that you’ll occasionally be called upon to do something. These interruptions mean that it’s almost impossible to get into that state of creative “flow” whilst you’re multi-jobbing. The solution is to work on low-brainpower bits of a project instead; those SEO articles you could write in your sleep, or that website redesign that’s mostly a lot of tedious copy-and-pasting.

Alternatively, do some administrative tasks. If you hate fussing around with invoices then this could be a good chance to get through them. If you keep meaning to label/file your emails properly, get it done.

How About You?

If you like the sound of this multi-jobbing stuff (“What, I could get paid to sit and do my accounts?”) then why not give it a try? Try Craigslist or, if you’re in the UK, Gumtree to look for childcare, house-sitting or casual receptionist jobs.

The best thing about multi-jobbing is getting paid twice for each hour of your time. If you’ve never experienced this, try it out some time soon — it’s a great feeling.

And if you’re a multi-jobber yourself, it’d be great to hear about your experience in the comments!