nice tips… i really was looking for this kind of article… thnks …
Part-Time Freelancing: How To Nurture Your Inner Freelancer
Posted February 12, 2009 in Lifestyle
These days, I’ve been hearing a lot about people starting a part-time freelance business while they still have day job. Given the economic times, that move makes perfect sense. Freelancing can be a great way to get control of your financial future.
Too often, however, freelancing becomes drudgery for the part-timer. Since they already have another job the part-time freelancer runs a high risk of burning out early in their freelancing career. In fact, many part-time freelancers never make the transition to full-time.
If you are a part-time freelancer (and even if you aren’t) here are some steps that you can take to ensure burnout doesn’t happen to you:
- Treat yourself like a professional.
Set aside a dedicated office space (even if it’s only a corner of a room) for your freelancing work. Working from your “office” instead of your kitchen table or your couch can make a positive difference in your productivity and attitude.
- Charge a fair rate for your work.
There is a big temptation for part-time freelancers to charge less than they are really worth. For one thing, they have the income from the day job to fall back on. Also, a part-timer may feel that low rates are justified because they are starting out. Don’t fall for this trap!
- Invest in your business.
Make sure that you have the proper equipment and software for your freelancing business. That four-year-old PC with the outdated software loaded on it may be just fine for answering e-mail, but it is probably not powerful enough for your freelancing gigs.
- Network with likeminded professionals.
When you first start out it can seem like you are the only person that you know who does freelance work. Join some networking sites and get to know other freelancers. Not only can these professional contacts help you find work, these peers can also share valuable tips.
- Print business cards.
There is just something about being able to hand out a business card with your name and your business name printed on it that makes a freelancer look and feel more professional. Getting business cards printed is relatively inexpensive, so why not get some business cards for yourself?
- Schedule downtime.
With both a day job and a budding freelancing career, you’re bound to get worn out easily if you’re not careful. During this period when you are juggling a day job with freelancing work, make the extra effort to schedule rest and relaxation time to keep yourself from getting too run down.
- Take a course in your field.
You may know to make an investment in your hardware and software, but do not forget to make in investment in yourself. Taking a class in a topic that relates to your field will both increase your knowledge and help you to feel more confident about your ability.
- Keep a log of your successes.
Many freelancers forget this step, but keeping a log of successful projects completed is an important task for the beginning freelancer. Not only will such a log encourage you when you feel discouraged, but it can form the basis for your professional portfolio.
Are you a part-time freelancer?
What special challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?
Have you transitioned from part-time freelancing to full-time?
How was the transition? What tips would you give to another freelancer who is considering going full-time?
- 10 Tips for Moving from Part-Time to Full-Time Freelancing
- Being a Freelancer: Part 1 – The Wannabe Perception
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Freelancing Part 7 – Sacrificing Integrity
- Open Thread: What’s Your Least Favorite Part of Freelancing?
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Freelancing Part 1 – Underestimating The Job
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February 12th, 2009 at 12:10 pm
February 12th, 2009 at 12:17 pm
This is a great list. Thank you!
This is what I am doing… really engaging with like minded folks helps a lot. I am also looking for clients that are fun for me to work with. This changes the whole dynamic. The world is full of great people with great ideas… what a contrast from the drudgery of the “day job” with all of its inherent politics, etc….
The other thing I do is look for fun places to work. Part of the joy of web working can be the freedom you gain from being able to be productive while on the move.
Keep up the good work!
February 12th, 2009 at 1:09 pm
I am a part time freelancer. The challenges I have faced have been finding guidance and a starting point for where to look for work, how to present myself digitally and basically how to get started with real clients. I’ve been writing small revenue sharing articles for years now, but I had my first taste of getting more than 10 bucks for an article about six months ago and I’m never going to turn back. I’ll do this for a living someday.
I haven’t transitions from part time to full time yet. I get close to burning out pretty often and don’t know when to step off. This is an issue that I’m working on and I’m glad this article reminded me to do so. My day job required a lot (too much) of me and I’m not adequately compensated for extra hours worked, so I try to make my freelance work really count. I’ve had some trouble getting time to work the past month, so I’m trying different things to get pieces out with the limited time that I have.
February 12th, 2009 at 1:40 pm
I freelanced part time before making the jump to full time freelancing. The hardest part of me was time. Not that I was frittering away hours on Facebook and Twitter, but not having enough hours in the day to do all the writing I wanted to do. I found that I was able to maximize my time by training clients to email me rather than calling and by using sources on the West Coast (I could interview them at 6pm my time, which is 3pm their time).
February 12th, 2009 at 1:40 pm
I just subscribed to this site today hoping for tips on freelancing for this EXACT reason. This article could not have come at a better time. I’m working a “day job” but I want to start doing some work on the side to pull in some extra cash, so this was really helpful. Thanks!
February 12th, 2009 at 2:01 pm
These tips are easier said then done, I always find myself working too long, and I feel that sometimes I burn myself out.
As well as under charging I think is the hardest thing to figure out.. how to find the right dollar amount for your precious time.
February 12th, 2009 at 2:06 pm
I’m a part timer and the only struggle I face is sticking with my day job. I’m building my freelance business as well as a sizeable nest egg so that when I make the switch to full time in June, I’ll have little pressure. Coming in to the horrendous, maddening, mind-numbing day job (as a stockbroker during an economic downturn no less) is a challenge. Needless to say, I have no sick time or vacation time left :)
February 12th, 2009 at 2:12 pm
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Judging from the comments, it sounds like this article touched on a need that many of us our experiencing.
Chad, you make an excellent point that the tips are easier said than done – still, reading through them can serve as a reminder to us all.
Good luck to all of those who are in the process of transitioning from part-time to full-time.
February 12th, 2009 at 4:33 pm
As a part-time freelancer the hardest thing I have found for me is charging a fair rate. The predominance of my clients are small business owners. In the case of one client, she was essentially part-time freelancing herself. Additionally, many of the leads that develop are through personal, rather than professional contacts.
Of course, the freedom you get doing design work for small business must be accounted for; in my experience, small business owners with absolutely no branding or marketing material to speak of are generally “blown away” by first drafts of logos/collateral/etc and are extremely excited to venture down the uncharted path of developing their brand.
February 12th, 2009 at 5:42 pm
I think charging a fair rate is one of the most important factors for a freelancer. If you are priced too low, customers may think you are inexperienced or not as good as someone who charges a higher rate. You also don’t want to end up unhappy doing a job that you underquoted – this can hurt your quality of work.
I just wrote a blog post on how discounts hurt your business – so this is something I recently spent a lot of time thinking about. Customers can be aggressive or just ask for discounts because they know you are just starting out. I’ve found it’s really helpful to have letters of recommendation from clients so that you can quickly demonstrate the value you are providing (and also remind yourself that you’re worth it). Charging a low rate just communicates all the wrong things, and it will hurt you in the long-term (including any referrals sent from this customer who will be told you’ll offer a “good deal”).
February 12th, 2009 at 6:24 pm
Determining a fair rate is one of the most difficult things that a freelancer has to do. If you are uncertain about what to charge look for the websites of freelancers who provide similar services and see if they have their rates posted. There also some professional societies that post benchmark rates.
February 12th, 2009 at 7:28 pm
Great tips! I feel sort of overlooked sometimes being a part time freelancer, so many articles and posts focus on the full timers.
I agree with a few of the others here about charging fair rates. It’s so hard to do! I’m trying to be a full time freelancer eventually, so I’ve tried to start ramping up my prices to be as high as possible while still being fair. I don’t want to make the jump and then have to increase my prices and start losing business. So I’m tinkering with pricing a little bit to see what clients will balk at vs. what they will accept as a good price.
February 12th, 2009 at 7:37 pm
I always feel slight terror when I think of a number that I want to make for a weekly or monthly income figure and what I’ll need to charge as a rate to get there. Then that just pushes me to get better at writing and what I do. The confidence still is slightly lacking to command a high, but fair rate.
February 12th, 2009 at 9:01 pm
I’m not only a part-time freelancer, but my full time job is a 45-50 hour per week night shift. Some of my prospective clients like to meet in person, and that just kills me. My portfolio isn’t huge, but I like to convey myself as a professional, have business cards, and try to bridge that gap between “making websites” and “making websites and there owners happy.” I’m always looking for new ways to help serve my clients.
February 12th, 2009 at 9:04 pm
One thing to remember when doing it part-time is that you do have a full-time job and don’t let the two cross. It’s not fair to your employer to use their time to do research, answer emails or solicit work while on their time, not is it ethical.
Also you may want to check with HR or the supervisor to be certain that there isn’t a policy in place about outside work.
February 12th, 2009 at 11:07 pm
@Steve Atkinson, your point is well taken, however that same philosophy applies in reverse. It is unethical for a company to pay a flat rate to an employee and expect an open ended level of hourly commitment beyond the standard 40. Especially with young people, it is absurd to expect an employee to earn an entry level salary, commit all their time beyond the standard work week and not give them the option to earn income elsewhere.
I agree that if you want a long term, healthy relationship between your day job and your moonlighting you need to keep the two separate. If you allocate your time responsibly, there is no reason not to earn some extra money after you go home at 5 or 6PM. When you’re at work, do what you’re paid to do.
February 13th, 2009 at 12:31 am
I agree with JR Moreau. Many times the companies have a tendency to extract a whole lot of work than what the employee is being paid for. I have experienced the same.
I am a part time freelancer and the biggest challenge for me right now is to find the energy to work at home after I have slogged for 8 or 9 hours and then spend about 1 hour in traveling back to home from my office. It exhausts me completely and this makes me lag behind.
Sometimes I think I should transition to full time freelancing but the current economic scenario prohibits me to start something of my own. But sometimes, I feel that I should stop freelancing.
Man, it is difficult to part time freelance.
February 13th, 2009 at 4:31 am
I’ve been freelancing for 14 years, and only one of those was full-time. I found I missed in-person human interactions and steady paychecks too much. (Has anyone else had to wrestle with corporate accountants after 30 days are up?) The feast or famine concept applies, and it is hard to know when you can take a vacation — will that sweet retainer last another six months, or are you going to be out with the change in management? The uncertainty can be unsettling.
For me, part-time is just right — I get to pursue fun projects and try new things (Skype, Twitter, Google Docs, Central Desktop, Constant Contact) that I can later bring to my day job. It has fast-forwarded my learning curve, plus I get to write off cool new tech tools. I’ve been honest with my three sequential day jobs about freelancing. As someone said, to be ethical, never mix the two (at lunch I go out to my car if I need to call a client), and I am clear about the benefits for my employer — after all, I’m choosing to grow my professional knowledge on nights and weekends and it is not on their dime.
To avoid burnout, I don’t actively seek new clients. I just get repeat business, word of mouth referrals or the occasional website inquiry, and that ends up to be manageable — an extra 10 to 20 hours a month or so. Sometimes it is too much, though.
Lessons learned so far as a copywriter — charge by the hour for editing/substantial rewriting because it is really hard to bid on someone else’s work, charge by the project or get on retainer otherwise so clients know their budget, get 50% up front on your first project from any new client (somehow they respect that, too), realize that you are delivering not just words but all your years of marketing experience and set your rates accordingly. Often, for SMB clients, we really have to do branding and positioning first before we write any copy — acknowledge that to yourself and add it in as an extra service.
February 13th, 2009 at 5:00 am
Thanks for the great tips! Ok, points are follow-worthy, I appreciate. You have talked about having connected with professionals from similar profession. Is there any such notable site, forum for asp.net programming? Or any further tips?
I am not a freelancer yet. What would be my primitive steps to start out part time freelancer career? I think this is the right site to share my feeling and so I am asking this. Any suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
Thanks a lot.
February 13th, 2009 at 6:58 am
Great tips, only few months ago I started freelancing part-time, and I hadn’t think in some of those points. Thanks :D
February 13th, 2009 at 10:43 am
I have a full-time web design job, and I do part-time freelance in the evenings and on the weekends. I be sure to tell my clients that I am not available 9-6 and that any quick changes they need can’t be guaranteed to be made within a week. I charge a rate I feel is fair to me as a professional, but also fair to them, knowing that their work comes 2nd priority to my job.
I find the best clients to take are ones that are small groups or individuals who don’t have the means to hire a web agency, but are still looking for a presence on the web. Taking jobs from people who have the means but are just looking for something fast and cheap is not the way to go!
February 13th, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Great information. I’m looking for side work to fill in while sales hopefully bounce back. I’m also writing for Where’s My Damn Answer and a bunch of other stuff. I figured being able to pick up some writing gigs might help me get through the tough times right now. This has helped me gather my thoughts a bit on it :-D. Thanks for sharing.
February 13th, 2009 at 11:38 pm
Thanks for the great tips. I am also a part time freelance writer. I face two challenges – finding time to write and setting boundaries between my full-time and my part-time.
February 16th, 2009 at 12:21 pm
Christy — good point about the other half of that ethics equation — telling your clients that you can only work nights and weekends so that will extend turnaround time. Important to be transparent to everyone. Cool twitter background! Just followed you – @katiewinchell.
BeccaFebruary 16th, 2009 at 1:04 pm
I am a part-timer but I’m slowly working my way toward doing freelance writing work full time, so I can stay home with my daughter. The challenges I face are motivation and time management. When I’m working from home, taking care of a 10 month old can be a lot of work, while trying to stay focused on my job. But it’s going and I’m learning to manage both parts of my life at the same time. It’s more than worth it to be able to spend time with her.
AmyFebruary 20th, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Excellent article. I’ve stuck to full-time freelancing when we moved to Netherlands and work’s been picking up. Can take a while tho. Thanks for sharing. :)
February 20th, 2009 at 11:47 pm
The biggest difficulty I find is finding time to market myself. Between all of the personal work on my portfolio and the clients that just happen along I don’t have time toadket and get bigger clients.
March 12th, 2010 at 10:10 am
Wow. This article is a year old but obviously still so current to anyone in the field. A great read.
I part-time freelance as a web designer whilst also maintaining a 12 hour day as an employed web designer. Throughout the comments a lot of great points have been raised and a lot I adhere to. In summary :
. Have a dedicated “office” space.
. Charge a fair rate.
. Network (Twitter is essential)
. Schedule downtime – I work all week (8.30am – 5.30am .. 7pm – 1am) but have weekends off, unless urgency is required. You NEED family/friends/you time!
.Train clients to use email, not call you.
. If you can, be honest with your employer AND your clients – let them know you have a day job.
And my own two pence worth:
Get into a routine and stick with it. It will help your body and your mind know whats going on. Juggling the 2 jobs then becomes habitual.
March 24th, 2010 at 10:24 am
I personally decided to switch to full time after a couple of months part-time while in my previous work. It was the rise of the financial crisis but with a lucky charm and some spend money I still manage to keep the things going on.
Here it’s hard to do part-time during the recession so it is kind of no freelance at all or FL only. So the choice is in the black or white gamma.
July 20th, 2010 at 8:28 am
August 17th, 2010 at 8:01 am
Just about to set up a part-time freelance business. The article is very helpful. Thank you!
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