With many things in this world, you must walk before you can run. When aspiring to become a full-time freelancer, you typically must slowly begin building your freelance venture while still working full time for an employer. This may not be the ideal situation but it provides steady income until your freelance business is successful enough to go full time.
However, while freelancing and working full time, use caution on how you fit both demands into your schedule and how the topic of freelancing is approached with your boss. By taking caution with these topics, you’ll avoid burning bridges with the employer and ruining both ventures.
Don’t Double Dip
Your employer likely won’t have kind words to say after catching you using company time and resources to work on freelance projects. Resist the temptation to double dip your time by completing freelance tasks while on the employer’s time clock. Sure, this may lead to late nights and long weekends finishing freelance tasks. However, the two realms must be kept separate if you hope to keep your full-time job and succeed in this freelance venture.
Read Your Workplace Policy
Some companies include non-compete clauses in their employee handbooks, meaning employees aren’t allowed to accept freelance work on the side. These clauses are often found in ad agencies with employers who fear their creative professionals will begin stealing the company’s clients.
Before freelancing, review your employee handbook and ask questions on any clauses you don’t understand. This will avoid you breaking a major company rule regarding freelancing and, thus, suffering severe repercussions such as losing your job. If the policy is vague, use your best judgment regarding whether the boss should be informed of your intentions to start freelancing on the side.
Be Honest with Clients
As your freelance client list builds, you may be faced with periods of work overload. It’s typical during this time when you’ll need either quit your job and go full-time freelance or turn a few clients away. In either case, be upfront with any potential clients asking you to complete work for them. Tell the clients you’re still working full-time and specify that the work may take a little longer than usual if they still want you to complete their projects. By laying the cards on the table at the beginning of a freelance project, you’ll avoid client frustrations and negative word of mouth in the future.
Go Full-time Freelance with Care
Although you may be chomping at the bit to put in your two-week notice and go full-time freelance, make this transition with care. Only go full-time freelance when you’re confident your income from an employer’s paycheck can easily be replaced and when you have a cushion of savings to fall back on during unexpected freelance dry spells.
Freelancing while working full-time for an employer is a great opportunity to maintain the security of a steady paycheck while assessing if you’ve got the talent needed to go solo in the working world. By respecting your full-time work hours and by being upfront with your freelance clients, you’ll successfully navigate this transitional period until you’re able to leave the employer behind and freelance full-time.