One of the best things about freelancing is that the work is so flexible. Often times, you don’t have to be confined to a specific schedule and as long as you meet your deadlines and deliver quality work, you can work from anywhere and at any time that’s convenient for you.
This makes freelancing a great side hustle option but if you have intentions of quitting your job to freelance full time one day, you’ll need to scale up and properly manage your workload.
Here are a few survival tips to help you comfortably balance freelancing with your full-time job.
Choose Clients Whose Needs Fit Your Time Constraints
When you freelance on the side of your full-time job, you’ll only have a limited number of hours to dedicate toward your clients.
Thus, be sure to choose your clients carefully and determine whether or not you can meet their time commitment requirements.
When you’re trying to scale up with freelancing, it can seem like money is the most important factor but if you solely chase after money, you’ll be stuck with a ton work/clients and no time or energy to really turn that into a thriving business that can function without you from time to time.
Increasing your earnings is important, but try to focus on landing a handful of clients who pay well instead of a dozen who pay an average or low rate so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to focus on everyone and keep up with responsibilities like business expenses, paying taxes, etc.
Get on a Schedule
You need lots of energy, motivation, and quite a bit of time to freelance and work a full-time job. Getting on a schedule can help you optimize all these needs and adopt a better morning routine.
Aside from your freelance hours, you can schedule in time for cleaning, errands, relaxing with friends, working out, etc.
That way, you’ll be able to track your time spent better and become more motivated now that you know what you need to do for the day and are not just working whenever you have ‘free time’.
Automate Small and Tedious Tasks
Doing small tasks like sending pitches, creating invoices, and explaining your services to potential clients can really eat up your time. Start automating these tasks to get more of your time back. This will help you to grow your freelance business even more.
Sending pitches can be very time consuming because you need to do research on prospects, find the point of contact, create a custom email, and follow up each time.
Try to use tools like IFTTT (which stands for If This Then That) to automate your search for new clients. IFTTT allows you to set up ‘applets’ which are rules that are carried out when triggered by another action.
For example, with IFTTT, you can set up a Twitter alert for whenever someone mentions a phrase like ‘hiring freelancers’ or ‘need to hire a freelancer’. That way, you’ll automatically receive a lead that you can pitch.
When you do send pitches, write your follow up email in the same sitting and save it as a draft. Then, set yourself a reminder to send it off in a few days if you don’t hear back from the prospect.
If you have a regular client, you can set up recurring monthly invoices. To save time and you can set up canned responses in an email folder. This will help to answer frequently asked questions about your services.
Having a website with a ‘Hire Me’ or ‘Work With Me’ page and a link to your portfolio will also help you save time.
Get Up Early or Stay Up Late
Your time becomes more valuable when you freelance on the side of a full-time job because it’s limited. This is why I always tell people to either get up early or stay up late to log more hours in for freelancing.
Personally, I have always been an early bird. I love the feeling of being ‘done’ with work for the day. When I freelanced as a side hustle, I often got up at 5 am to work on my client’s assignments. Then I went into my full-time job.
I also did small tasks on my lunch break which saved me time later. Working from 5 am – 6:30 am Monday through Friday added 7.5 more hours of freelancing time to my schedule. I’m more productive in the morning. I ended up getting most of my work done before the weekend even hit.
If you are more productive in the evening, carve out some time to do the bulk of your freelance work then but make sure you’re still getting enough sleep at night. To do this, you must estimate your workload accurately and utilize off days to fill in the gaps.
Get Comfortable With Saying No
As alluded to earlier, it’s so easy to bite off more than you can chew with freelancing. You really can control how much you earn and take on as many clients as you can handle.
However, if you overdo it, your efforts could come back to bite you. It’s important to know when it’s best to say no and be able to stand your ground.
If you’re not able to take on a particular project or someone is offering to pay below your desired rate, don’t be afraid to say no and wait for the next opportunity. Trust me, there will be plenty more.
Becoming a full-time freelancer is hard work during every stage. Your first priority may be increasing your income so you can quit your day job. You also need to focus on turning freelancing into a sustainable business. Start by valuing your time and getting on a solid schedule.
This will help you earn a more consistent income. Work only on projects with clients you love when you start freelancing full time.
When you’re working 40+ hour weeks, focus on ways to become more productive. Get more done in less time, while still taking care of your other responsibilities.