For many busy working people in the UK right now, our full time jobs might not be our only form of income. For some people, their salaries just aren’t enough to keep them afloat, for others it’s a way of pursuing a passion their job role can’t provide, and for many it can be a way of earning a few extra pennies to save for a rainy day.
But managing and handling full time employment, as well as part time freelance or ‘side hustle’ work can be tiring, and taxing – particularly when it comes to filling out those dread Self Assessment forms for HMRC. But it shouldn’t be impossible, and everyone should be entitled to define their own careers, and use every second of their downtime to their own advantage.
So here are some of my best tips for juggling that Full Time and Freelance life!
Be Transparent and Honest
If your job requires it, state that you are working freelance on the side. If you are questioned about it by management, be honest. Tell them why you freelance, and when – making sure your company knows that it is always on your time, not theirs. It shows a serious mark of respect to be genuine with your company, especially about complex matters such as this one. Some companies will be open and accepting of your freelance path, but you should be aware that others might not be. But when discussing it, be fair and understanding as to everyones reasons – and try to work up some level of compromise that benefits every party involved.
This being said, you are also under no obligation to disclose who your freelance clients are, or how much they are paying you. Make sure that you maintain that respectful behaviour in both your full time role, and your freelance role – to both your boss, and your client – lying to either could get you in some serious trouble.
Don’t Take Freelance Clients For Granted
Never take on more than you can chew with freelance work. In your full time job, there will be measures in place that can protect you against late deadlines, missing work, poor delivery. In freelance there is nothing. Whilst your boss might be able to shout you down and set up terrifying disciplinary meetings about your work ethic, you’re usually guarateed to still get paid at the end of they day. In freelance, you only get paid for the work you do, and the standard it comes to.
By establishing the clear differences between your job role and your freelance responsibilities, you can help yourself to work to two different standards. This doesn’t mean doing poor at one, and better at another, but it just means that you can learn how to adapt to the two difference working styles and environments expected of you. Freelancers are expected to come in, do the work, deliver it and get it done. You’re a freelancer because you’re an expert in your field, and learning on the job is not an option. In your job, there’s always room to grow and explore new skills and responsibilities, and this needs to be implemented into your approach to each task.
Don’t Burn Out
Never give yourself too much to do in a short space of time. Working that 9-5 is tiring, and if you plan to do all of your freelance work in the evenings, you will need to factor in the days where all you want to do is come home and take a 3 hour nap before crashing out in front of the telly. You will not feel productive every day, and to avoid letting your client down, you need to properly manage your time.
Lunch breaks can be your new best friend. Hit up a local coffee shop for an hour with your laptop, and get as much done as you can in that time. Then follow it up with maybe an hour or or so of work just after you get in. Then the rest of the evening is yours to binge Netflix until you hit the sheets! Oh and Sundays? The perfect day for catching up on your freelance to-do list. The coffee shops are quieter, the day is long, and there’s never anything better to do. Put aside 4 hours in the day to crack on with your freelance grind, and get it all done in one big block. The client recieves their completed work first thing Monday morning, your boss gets a fresh faced employee ready for the week, and you didn’t miss out on that wild Saturday afternoon bbq you’d been planning for months! Sorted!
Remember That Everything is A Transferable Skill
You’re a full time accountant, but have a freelance pechant for design? Transferrable skill. Filling out that invoice forms is going to be a breeze for you! Stuck behind a receptionists desk, but with a client begging you for copywriting skills? Organisation, meeting planning, client facing smile and a knack for excellent upper management communication – what more could you need? Smashing it as a female coder, but want to set up your own beauty blog? Who needs to outsource their web design when you’ve got your own set of frontend skills to utilise?
Everything you learn in your full time job can be applied to your freelance career – and vice versa. You never know what your client might ask of you next, or what genius software you’ll be asked to tackle that could end up improving your full time working life. Even just catching up with your full time colleagues gives you the chance to learn new ways of thinking and working that could definitely be applied to your freelance attitude. So make every new task a learning experience, that could eventually help you to raise your game in every field!
Expand Your Network (and Don’t Worry About Them Overlapping!)
One of the biggest fears every freelancer faces is their client running into their boss. It feels like your boyfriend running into ex at an awkwardly stilted networking party, and could make you want to want to dive head first into that free drinks buffet.
But try changing your take on this. If your boss doesn’t already know about your freelancing career, maybe this isn’t the best place to disclose it, but you can readily introduce them to your client by going ‘Hey, so this Phil, I’ve been helping him out a little with some design projects he’s working on’. And then you launch into the story of how you met – demonstrating your excellent networking skills – and casually drop in some of the people in industry that Phil could introduce your boss to.
Everyone knows someone, that knows someone else that could useful to you. Don’t see your freelance clients and your boss as enemies, or as competition for each other. They’re both just business people, with one shared connection on LinkedIn. That’s all. They can use each other just as much as you can use them to help get ahead in the game. See every interaction as an opportunity, and you’ll be killing it before you know it.
Juggling your full time and freelance responsibilities can feel like a mammoth task. It can feel like your work is literally is never done, and as you sit on your sofa, work phone in one hand, freelance timesheet in the other, as your laptop frantically pings with an increasing number of Slack messages, you might wonder ‘is all of this really worth it?’ Yes. It is. Take control of your own career path is one of the most empowering and independent moves anyone can take, and pursuing the passions you love, as well as making a safe living for yourself is something everyone should be allowed to do.
Just remember – Honesty, Standard, Balance, Skill & Opportunity are your new favourite buzzwords, so go out there and smash it!
If anyone out there is struggling to juggle their full time and freelancing jobs, or just wants some advice on that #freelancelife, I’m always happy to help! Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect through Twitter @Nikki_McCaig, and I’ll work my freelance magic!