How I Freelance with a Day Job


by Daniela DiStefano

For more than three years I’ve been a happy part-time freelancer. What started as a way to exercise my passion for writing and build my portfolio in University developed into a steady and profitable part-time business that’s now a highly rewarding part of my career.

I didn’t become a freelancer overnight. I started as an intern and volunteer contributor for a number of publications that eventually led to full-time employment opportunities as well as paid freelance work. This gave me the chance to explore different styles of writing, meet other freelancers and develop relationships with editors.

I first thought of part-time freelancing as a way to facilitate my goal of landing a full-time job in magazines, but realized keeping it up would help me to deepen my roots in the industry and prepare me to become my own boss should I choose to make the switch down the line. Now I work at a marketing agency by day while scheduling print features, copywriting, blogging and social media consulting into my evenings and weekends.

The beauty of freelancing it that it’s flexible, and although it’s hard to turn down work, part-timers need to be comfortable saying “no” when there’s just not enough free hours to get a job done or when an assignment is not worth the effort. Setting yearly and monthly or weekly goals and objectives helps me focus on booking assignments that will help reach those monetary and professional milestones.

Just as with full-time freelancing, generating income and setting rates is a big factor for achieving part-time success. It may seem harmless to charge lower than industry normal rates or to do things for free because you have a full-time paycheque to fall back on, but it won’t help you build the reputable and successful business you deserve and it has a detrimental effect on freelance rates overall. Putting your talent and expertise to work outside your day job can help earn extra funds towards mortgage payments or for your next vacation, and I’ve found that if I’m cutting into my free time out of the office, I want to be sure the work pays a competitive wage and will give me a byline that I’m proud of.

The most challenging aspect is finding time to work on the business. After an especially long workday, or when the weekend weather forecast makes you feel like it’s far too gorgeous to be sitting at your desk, the last thing you want to do is keep working. You have to stay dedicated to find time to send pitches, schedule interviews and file stories before deadline. Making a set schedule of a few hours per weeknight and a morning or afternoon on the weekend free from outside interruptions and devoted to freelance will help you to leave time for hobbies, exercise and other activities in between your full-time job and part-time work.

Making sure not to over schedule assignments will also prevent a time-crunched panic attack at midnight on a work night and disappointed clients. A detailed calendar or Excel sheet of current jobs and deadlines helps keep me on track to see how much more work I can reasonably take on. Be honest with editors and clients about the time you have open for part-time work so they understand you won’t be available for weekday conference calls or to cover daytime events that conflict with your full-time job. They will have to be comfortable knowing they’ll likely need to connect with you after hours and on weekends, and your interviews and client meetings will have to take place outside of your regular 9 to 5 full-time job commitments.

Part-time freelancing is not without its obstacles and sacrifices, but with the right perseverance and support it can make a rewarding addition to your career, and maybe even pave the way for you to quit your day job.


Daniela DiStefano is a part-time freelance writer and editor in Toronto. Connect with her online here.


Are you a part-time freelancer, or thinking of giving it a try? We’d like to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.



Posted on May 15, 2013 at 9:15 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

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