Balance Your Job with Your Freelance Career

I get up in the morning and go to work in an office. I come home and do the things that life requires. Then I go upstairs to my home office and write for my freelance clients. Or I market myself over email. Or I learn more about copywriting.

By day, I’m working in a bustling office environment, getting paid no matter how much work is on my plate.

By night, I’m writing in the quiet of my home. My pay for this work depends on my determination and perseverance alone.

I recently got to thinking and realized that I have a double life … and I feel pretty lucky.

Think about it. With both a regular job and a freelance career, you get to build your writing income gradually without worrying about cash flow. You can write copy for your co-workers or employer to build up your sample portfolio. You get to work independently, but don’t have to do it every day. You become a master in the art of discipline and sustained momentum.

If you’d like to live this double life too, here’s how I got started …

I initially intended to resign from my full-time job in the equity sales and trading department at a large bank and dive into freelancing full-time. But when I sat down with my bosses, they surprised me with a counteroffer — a flexible 30-hour week! I now have an extra one to two days per week to work solely on building my freelance career while continuing to receive a paycheck. And I get to keep my 401(k) and benefits.

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in discussing with your boss, here are some suggestions based on my experience …

Understand your leverage. Would you be hard to replace? Do you have a rational supervisor who cares about your well-being? If yes to both, you have a solid case for your request.

Choose your strategy. Start small by asking about what’s possible. Or go big by jumping ship and hoping for a counteroffer. Choosing the best tactic comes from knowing your boss’ personality. (Keep in mind, don’t go big unless you’re truly ready to jump, in case that’s the option they choose.)

Expand the pie. Make this a win-win situation. Tout the benefits your company will reap. Studies show that long-term part-time employees are more productive than their long-term full-time counterparts!

Negotiate with strength and articulation. This is a great opportunity to practice your persuasive writing and presentation skills!

Squander not. If you get more days for freelancing, get to it! TV time and vacations can wait … at least until you’ve made significant progress.

Are you living a double life? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Share your comments.

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Published: July 29, 2013

8 Responses to “Balance Your Job with Your Freelance Career”

  1. Julie - your double life is indeed intriging. This wouldn't fit for me but I'm interresed in finding out how to refine my writing skills and if what I have, after honing, could be turned into a career. Thanks....

    Guest (Jack)

  2. Hi, Julie.

    I, too, have a double life. My situation is a bit different though. I'm an electrician for a food processing company. My work schedule is 40 hours, Thursday through Sunday.

    This gives me Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to build my business. I'm trying to work out a better schedule.

    For example, I'm looking at: Marketing Monday, Typing Tuesday and Wrap-up Wednesday. I can still work evenings as well.

    How do you budget your time? Anyone else want to give your ideas?

    Steve Maurer

  3. Yes, I am leading a double-life of sorts. I am a freelance writer while simultaneously working 40hrs a week in a buy office supporting execs, and I work part-time 20hrs a week at a fitness center. Did I mention I have two kids in college and am a single mother (for the past 14yrs)... writing finds a way into my daily life, no matter how busy life gets.

    Guest (Tracy)

  4. Looking forward to this series of articles! I've been thinking about doing this myself so look forward to picking up some tips. Will try and find that research on productive long-term part-time employees!

    Karen F

  5. After 2 years of struggle in a job I'd like to leave, dreaming of a freelance writer's life, never finding energy or time to work on writing, AT LAST I see the light! This 'grueling' period is the IDEAL training to FORCE ME to develop self-discipline, time management, mental focus, physical energy, and CONFIDENCE I need to thrive as a freelancer. Yes, working 2 jobs is tough; but it's also making me GROW, as a person AND a professional. Exercise, diet, thoughts, feelings, actions: my new keys!

    David W

  6. Wonderful article!

    I liked your point about worry free cash flow that a job provides, that is so important, because it can help reduce the stress of starting a new business.

    The reduced work week is a great idea that I had not considered previously.

    Also, when you are negotiating for a reduced work week a freelance writer can stress to the company the monetary savings it will receive from your reduced work schedule.

    A win-win situation for both you and the company.

    Guest (Lee Dinkins)

  7. I love the concept, but am going about it sort of backwards. I originally dove right in, but without a strategic plan (and without realizing that while I love the writing part I hate hustling for business). So now, I have gone back to a staff (writing) job for the steady income and plan to make my way back gradually. Unfortunately, I can't ask for a shorter week yet since I am so new, but at least now I have a strategic vision!

    Guest (Pam)

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