When I stopped being a full time freelance designer, I never expected how difficult it was going to be not having my own clients and doing my own work.
That wasn’t because of my new job. I was happy to have the support of my employer to continue doing side work if I wanted to. It was a blessing, because there were some employers who weren’t keen on me doing extra work or side work. They wanted me to only focus on their work — even if my side projects didn’t interefere with their business.
After a few months at my job, I started to wonder if I wanted to keep doing side work. I realized if I was going to move forward with being a freelancer on the side, that I would have to create some new rules and some new boundaries for myself. This took a little bit of work. It was tough to set these boundaries, but over the last year it’s worked out quite well for me.
Being a freelancer while having a job, I’ve learned to make sure I’m up front about it with potential clients right away. I had this fear that they’d freak out or run away. But they didn’t!
Clients understood my schedule and I found they respected the boundaries. Sometimes they’d push back, but I started to gain the confidence to stand my ground. I wasn’t fighting for this as my only paycheck anymore.
That said, I still had to learn how to keep a healthy balance of work and keeping some time for fun outside of work. There was this period of time where I was literally working 80 or more hours a week and it took a toll on me.
If you’re going to freelance on the side, I strongly recommend you take on a little less than you can handle. Its easy to take on new work and expect that everything is going to go 100% flawless, or there won’t be any issues. There’s nothing wrong with thinking that way.
But, we need to be realistic to about how we approach side work, because it’s very easy to get into a rhythm and not plan for the extra time we need. Having that margin of error is important when you’re still managing a full-time job for forty hours per week.
And no matter what, make sure you’re still making time for yourself.
Sometimes its hard to make time for your family or friends. It’s easy to over-work ourselves. We fall into the trap where we feel like we need to keep working and mask it as improving our craft.
But but you need that time off. You need the mental health break. This time is for finding inspiration in different places. Or its time for simply hitting “reset.”
I know its easy to not do this, because we’re trying to chase another dollar or another client. It’s it’s a trap that usually never ends well. It can lead to burning out faster. That isn’t good when you have a full time job where they expect you to be at your best.