Part-Time Freelancing–Is It Worth It?

The growing number of freelancers seems to be a hot topic. Nearly every week I read a news story about how there are more freelancers than ever before (although nobody seems to know for sure exactly how many there are).

What most of those articles don’t mention is that a sizable number of freelancers are part-time freelancers. That means that they have another job and freelance on the side or that they work less than a full workweek by choice. (A full workweek is usually defined as thirty hours.)

In this post, we’ll explore the world of part-time freelancing. We’ll look at some of the reasons people freelance part-time and explore some of the unique challenges they face. Plus, I’ll incorporate tips and advice from five freelancers who work part-time.

Why Freelance Part-time?

There are many reasons that a freelancer may choose to work part-time. Here are just a few:

  1. Gives the freelancer the opportunity to “try” freelancing while still working their regular job–Many people are interested in freelancing, but they aren’t sure if they can make it as a freelancer. Working part-time, they can try to get their freelancing career started and still get a regular paycheck.
  2. Allows the freelancer to hold onto the employment benefits that go along with a traditional job–The one thing keeping many employees from freelancing is the loss of the “safety net” of benefits that comes along with most full-time jobs. This safety net can include health insurance, sick pay, and many other perks.
  3. Offers a higher pay scale for those who can’t work a full-time job due to their other responsibilities–Many freelancers need to earn money, but can’t put in a thirty-hour week due to their life situation. They may be the caretaker for a young child or for someone who is sick. They may be located too far from most employment centers.
  4. Lets some in-demand professionals earn extra money–Some professionals take on occasional freelancing gigs so that they can purchase something they wouldn’t be able to afford on the income from their salaried jobs. Others may take on freelance work to reduce or eliminate debt.
  5. Provides an income when no other opportunities are available–In today’s economy, traditional employment is often hard to find. This is particularly true for those who are just starting out in their profession. Often, taking on freelancing work is the quickest and easiest way for a new professional to start earning an income.

Despite the many reasons for freelancing part-time, it is not without its challenges.

Part-time Freelancer Challenges

While part-time freelancing may seem safer and offer some advantages that full-time freelancing doesn’t provide, part-timers have their own problems. Here are some challenges that part-time freelancers face:

  1. Time crunch–All freelancers must learn to manage their time, but part-time freelancers can be especially vulnerable to running out of time. Lynda Bullock has been a part-time freelance writer for the last two years. She has this to say, “My greatest challenge is finding enough time during the day.”
  2. Rate pressure–A part-time freelancer may be tempted to accept a lower rate since they have another job. Also, if a client realizes that a freelancer has traditional employment to fall back on, they may offer less money.
  3. Life balance–For many part-time freelancers, finding the right balance can be a real struggle. For Michelle Kulas, who has been a part-time freelance blogger for five years, balance is critical. She says “It’s hard to find the time to fit it all in. It’s a constant juggling act.” Jessie Fitzgerald, a part-time health and nutrition writer, agrees. Fitzgerald also lists work/life balance as her biggest challenge.
  4. Keeping up with clients and other commitments–Most freelancers work with more than one client at a time, but for part-timers this can be difficult. Osny Santos Netto has been freelancing for five years. According to Netto, his biggest challenge is “dealing with different clients” and “having the time to do the tasks on time for the clients.” Samuel James White is a student who has been a part-time freelancer for the last six months. White says, “I have to be careful, or I risk losing control of my studies.”

Fortunately, there are few guidelines you can follow to help overcome these challenges if you freelance part-time.

Part-time Freelancer Guidelines

As a part-time freelancer, how can you make sure that everything goes smoothly? Here are some guidelines to help part-time freelancers:

  1. Manage your time–Don’t overschedule yourself. If you have ten hours to spend freelancing, don’t schedule fifteen. Netto advises other part-timers to “take control of your time.”
  2. Prioritize your schedule–White says, “My advice to other part-time freelancers would be to prioritize correctly.” His advice for doing this is “don’t get carried away by ignoring what really matters.”
  3. Keep going–Bullock says, “The best advice I could give other part-time freelancers is to simply never give up. Despite what many believe, freelancing isn’t easy and requires a lot of hard work.”
  4. Don’t cave in to rate pressure–What you charge for your work is just as important as what a full-timer charges.
  5. Get help–Kulas delegates “household tasks to my kids and outsources some projects to carefully hand-picked fellow professional writers at times.”
  6. Focus on profit–Fitzgerald says, “Keep your time profitable and make every minute matter.”
  7. Remember that you’re not locked in to part-time freelancing–One of the beauties of freelancing is that it’s flexible. You may be a part-time freelancer now, but you can change that if and when you want.

Your Turn

Are you a part-time freelancer? Add your own tips and challenges in the comments.

Are you thinking of freelancing part-time? Ask your questions to our freelance community in the comments.

Image by peretzpup