If you hate the nine-to-five grind, you may be thinking “I could do better than this!” and it’s true, you can. Freelancing is an incredible opportunity to follow your heart and your skills. However, you may also be worrying about whether you can cut it. A bit of caution is not a bad thing because trying to keep up a steady freelance client base when you’re working full-time is no easy task. You probably come home from work drained and may have to dig deep to force yourself to stay motivated as you tackle freelance projects. If you’re struggling to balance a 9-5 job with your freelance work, consider these strategies:
BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO
Everyone needs time off, so trying to work all day and then, assuming you’ll come home and freelance for the rest of the night simply isn’t realistic. Instead of trying to take on too much (and burning out quickly) it’s important to set realistic expectations about what you can and can’t do. It’s okay to say no to projects. Take on the work that leaves you excited and motivated and pass on the projects that seem draining.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Because your time is limited, you’re going to have to be firm about the unproductive stuff-yes, you need to do your research and you need to provide the work you’ve promised, but you’ll have to ration everything else. Try to make sure that you schedule in time for your family-it’s very easy to get so caught up in setting up your business that you don’t leave yourself any time for the most important things. However, you’ll have to prioritize ruthlessly outside this “magic circle” of work and family. If clients are taking up a lot of unnecessary time, you’ll have to think hard about whether to keep them or find a less high-maintenance replacement. Ultimately, you’re looking for clients who will trust you to do your work, rather than checking every five minutes. Remember that clients may well want feedback on a long project, so get into the habit of sending reports on a weekly or monthly basis. That way, you can schedule this in, rather than having it interrupt your workflow.
GET UP EARLY
Your time is limited, so you’re going to have to stretch it where you can. This means getting up early or working late (or both, if you take on too many clients). If you only work in the evening, you may find that you’ve got more to do than you thoughts and you won’t finish till the early hours. You’ll be tired and your work (both full time and freelance) will suffer. Getting up early is arguably the better option, you’re fresh and rested, you have peace and quiet in which to do your work, and you can concentrate on what you’re doing without interruption. You’ll also go through the day feeling good that your side gig is already taken care of! Being in the habit of doing your freelance work early gives you the opportunity to do more work in the evening if you absolutely have to.
When you’re trying to balance the demands of a full-time job with the challenges of freelancing, it can be easy to let small details slip through this from happening, make it a point to stay hyper-organized. Rely on spreadsheets, charts, notes, and other organizational tools, so that you’re always aware of exactly what needs to get done and when it needs to be completed.
DITCH THE SMALL CLIENTS IN FAVOUR OF A FEW BIGGER FISH
Lastly, if you’re trying to keep up with 15 clients who aren’t paying you very much, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed. Instead, it’s better to part ways with small clients in favor of taking on a few more substantial customers who are willing to pay you more for your services. While it’s sad to part ways with a good client, you’ll end up making more money and probably dealing with less stress.