Don’t Give Up Your Day Job – How To Build Your Freelance Business While Still In Full-Time Employment

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Sometimes freelancing can feel like such a huge leap from your current reality that you can barely imagine how you could achieve it. Whether you are a young unattached guy, a hardworking dad or a single mom, leaving steady traditional employment to make your own money and rules can be a very daunting proposition.

So, what if you don’t leave?

It is actually possible to remain in full-time employment while you grow your freelance business.

It is even possible to do this while remaining sane.

In this post, we want to show you exactly how to build your freelance business while still in full-time employment. Freelancing while you are still employed in a full-time traditional job will allow you to discover 2 main things:

  • whether you enjoy the freelance business you covet
  • whether it can support you and your financial responsibilities

Sounds good in theory and it can work in for you. Here are our 13 top tips to help you to successfully juggle a full time job, a freelance business and a life!

1. Give Self Employment A Risk Free Trial Run

Getting started with your freelance business while you are employed takes away the worry and stresses that sound like: ‘what if it all fails?’ ‘what if I can’t pay my mortgage?’

These are very real concerns, but so is the fear that you will look back with regret if you never try your hand at the freelance business that could have changed your life.
Keeping your full-time job provides you with a safety net to fall back on if all does fail. Your normal income will arrive in the bank as expected, and your monthly expenses will come off as usual. You can relax and go about building your empire in your spare time.

But what spare time do you have? That is entirely up to you, but a good amount to carve out is 10 or 20 hours per week to start with. This is enough to allow you to build your client base and start to work on projects while you are employed.

2. Find Out What You Really Want For Your Business

Dipping into freelancing while in full-time employment also allows you to test the waters of your chosen business before plunging in head first. This will afford you the opportunity to live your passion, and find out if it is really what you expected.

You may discover something unexpected about your own strengths and weaknesses that needs to be addressed. And on a grander scale, you may realize that a certain industry is not for you. This ‘trial run’ is also valuable experience for identifying your preferred clients and customers. Those that will be beneficial to your business in the long run.

3. Set Realistic Goals

As you build up your freelance business on the side, we strongly recommend that you set robust goals to keep you on track. The main objective may be to meet your basic financial needs to enable you to quit your day job, but there should be a game plan and daily objectives in place too.

These could also include sales objectives, such as making x number of marketing calls per week. When freelancing you have to be your own boss, so be sure to keep track of the bigger picture as well as the everyday happenings in your freelance business.

4. Be Transparent With Your Employer and Clients

One of the best ways to free-up more time for your own business can be to negotiate flexible working schedules with your current employer. Perhaps you could work 4 ten hour days a week rather than 5 eight hour days for example. Maybe you could telecommute twice a week, saving time in travel, as well as idle office chit-chat.

The idea is not to cheat your current employer out of hours that you should be working for them, far from it. We are suggesting that you manage your time better, to enable you to spend newly unlocked hours in your freelance business.

Always be available and working for your employer when you should be.

Be honest with your new clients about your schedule and current commitments too, so that they know what to expect from you in terms of time-frames and availability to discuss projects.

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5. Be Savvy With Your Freelance Earnings

Be absolutely scrupulous in tracking your freelance earnings. We recommend using a CRM tool such as Batchbook for this. In addition, create a business bank account and start as you mean to go on.

Batchbook CRM
Batchbook CRM

In fact, we suggest that you save ALL of your initial earnings from freelancing. This will serve many purposes:

  • It will show you precisely how much you have brought in (so that you know when you are doing well enough to let go of your current job)
  • It will create a buffer for leaner months (once you do leave your job)
  • It will teach you to be disciplined with your money
  • It will give you a sense of accomplishment, when you see what you can accumulate through your hustles

6. Become Uber Disciplined

We have just spoken about discipline with regard to earnings – but that is by no means the end of it when freelancing. Being your own boss means that you are the driving force of your business. You are the one who decide to take consistent action, or consistently slack off.

You hold the reigns to your failure or success – and if you really want to escape the dreaded 9-5 trap then you can do it, but it won’t be easy.

Being a successful freelancer means full commitment and dedication to providing high quality results for clients.

In order to do so, ESPECIALLY while still employed in full-time work, you will need to manage your time effectively. That means creating a schedule, and sticking to it!

If that means waking early – Do it.

If that means working on Sunday afternoons – Do it.

The great thing is that you get to choose when and how – and the tough thing is that you have to follow through.

7. Work Smart

Now that we have covered off discipline, we have a secret for you.

As a freelancer, you have the power to control time.

Well, kind of.

You can work in line with your own personal style, and employ simple tips and tricks to increase your productivity. Just take a look at this post to find out how.

Not only that, but anytime you are not tied down to your desk can become portable flexible work pockets. Create a mobile work kit (notebook, research notes, laptop etc) that you can whip out on your lunch break or in a waiting room.

Utilising your spare pockets of empty time will free up time for you later. (or another sales email……)

8. Hone Your Skills Daily

While you are employed, you can build experience in your own business by taking on side projects, and you can take the time to focus on delivering the highest possible quality to a small number of clients – establishing your reputation and integrity.

As you build your freelance business in this way you are bound to identify some areas expertise that could be updated, or skills that could be improved. Add that into your daily plan – and build on your biggest asset (YOU) continually.

Practice really does make perfect!

9. Market Yourself As A Brand

You will be learning as you go in the freelance side of things, seeing what works and what doesn’t. What delights the clients, what saves you time and what you should ditch. Pay attention to this, and focus on the good stuff to build into your own personal brand.
What you should be aiming for is a productized service, where you deliver the same results to your clients time and again. This looks like creating templates and samples, processes and procedures that you and your clients can rely on for consistency.

10. Position Yourself As Premium

A big part of your brand should be your price positioning. You can decide if you want to be seen as cheap and cheerful, or a coveted premium service. It should be a no brainer.

Position yourself as a premium service provider from day one, to put yourself in the mindset of good quality, as well as to gain trust from your clients.

When bidding, start higher than you think you should. Stay strong, and don’t drop your prices. Decent clients will pay for great quality and are saving themselves a fortune by hiring a freelancer rather than an employee – so don’t sell yourself short.

11. Outsource!

Once you get going, outsource absolutely everything that you can. You are not super-human, and running a freelance business at the same time as being employed full-time is not an easy task.

So look at your business objectively; consider employing someone to do the accounts, to run your website, to do the filing…… everything that you do not have to do yourself. You can have your own precious time for the revenue building, client relationship nurturing, personalised, absolutely vital that it’s you stuff.

Everything else can be delegated. And that extends to your home.

Guess what?

There are no awards for martyrs, no extra hours in the day reserved for dishes….. so get a dishwasher, buy the pre-cut vegetables if you want to, hire somebody to do your ironing, say yes when your support network offers.

In short, give yourself a break so that you can focus on the really important stuff – the stuff that will unlock your freedom.

12. Build Your Network

Your network is extremely valuable, so learn to use it right. Everywhere you go there is an opportunity to make useful connections, through your current employment and elsewhere.

Always have business cards on hand, collect email addresses and build relationships with people – in person and online. Once you know the pain points that you will be healing through your freelance business, you can find potential clients everywhere.

Looking at life in this way gives you many great opportunities to practice selling your services. You never know when your connections will come in handy!

Linked In
Linked In

Become active on Linked In, and join ‘mastermind’ type communities online. Put yourself out there, interact and see where it leads you.

13. Don’t Burn Out

It would be a terrible oversight if we didn’t include in this list a call to take care of your health. Starting a freelance business at the same time as being employed full-time is literally burning the candle at both ends. It is by no means easy, and will require many sacrifices to make it happen – although the end result will be worth it.

One thing that you should not sacrifice of course, is your health.

If you get sick, mentally or physically, you will undo all of your hard work, and end up in a worse position than where you started, so recognise that this isn’t just some BS added to the end of this to say, ‘make sure you get some me-time’.

Take this seriously – and just do the simple things that you know you should be doing anyway.

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get some decent sleep
  • Move your body (star jumps after each 25 minutes of work and a quick jog around the block is enough)
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Stop drinking soda

There you go.

Not so hard after all. So don’t look to us for sympathy if you don’t do these things 😉

So these are our 13 key points to consider when starting a freelance business while employed in a traditional full-time role. It is possible, it comes with huge benefits…..and it is only temporary!

Once you are able to bring home your desired income on a regular-enough basis you can quit your day job and be FREE to FREELANCE! And if you feel like you need more advice on where to start check out our awesome Upwork.com Starter Kit, which will give you some essential starting templates and we will also share some great info to get started. Best of all, it is free.

Are you currently working full-time for an employer and dreaming of the freelance life?

Have you already made the jump?

Either way, we would love to hear from you.

Click Here to Start your Freelance Journey Today: Learn about the 5 freelancing tasks that even beginners can have success with on Upwork.

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