If you answered “yes”, you’ve probably asked yourself the following question many times…
“Should I quit my day job, or start with part-time freelance writing?”
While you’re probably excited about the real possibility of earning a full-time living as a freelance writer, you need to consider your finances first, before burning your bridges.
By looking online, I found that many freelance writers started while still in employment elsewhere. This is a good strategy for a number of reasons detailed in this blog post. However, there are also advantages to making a clean start, and simply quitting your job.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of part-time freelance writing:
Advantage 1 – Build Up Your Cash-flow
Like it or not, you need to generate income immediately if you want to stay in business.
Freelance writing must be treated as a business, or you will fail.
Business is all about cash-flow. Freelancing is no different. You need to have cash in your bank account. Not assets. Not credits. Cash.
Remember that you’ll have bills to pay, whether or not you have a salary coming in. If you don’t get paid by your clients quickly (always expect delays), then you’re going to get stressed out very quickly.
Cash is king, and you need to have a backup supply before you start freelancing full time. By moonlighting, you can build up a stack of cash, place it in a separate bank account and have it ready when you make the jump.
Advantage 2 – Reduce Your “Money” Anxiety
If you just give up your job, you’ll place a huge amount of stress on yourself. Stress makes writing very difficult. It will cause your writing to be disjointed, as your mind cannot focus on the subject at hand.
If you maintain a job on the side, you will have security and know that you won’t be desperate for money. You’ll have the security of a salary every month. This is reassuring. It means that even when things are slow in your client generating process, you can still pay the bills at home. Know that full-time freelance writers don’t have this luxury.
Also, if you aren’t sure whether freelance writing is for you, then this strategy will work best.
Simply try it out for a few months and see how well you cope, if you can generate clients, get paid, and get the rates you need to live off.
Advantage 3 – You Get Paid Holidays
As soon you become a freelance writer, you lose your paid holidays and other employee benefits.
If you do go on holiday as freelance writer, you’ll know that you’re turning away money. This can be frightening, especially for an inexperienced freelance writer.
Advantage 4 – You Can Build A Client List First
Clients equal steady cash flow.
However, finding long-term, reliable, well-paying clients can take time.
As such, one of the pros of part-time freelance writing is that you can build up business first. This is good for your bank balance (see point no.1) and for projecting your future income.
Once you have a list of clients (who want repeat work from you), you can transition into a full-time career very easily. Not only that, but you’ll know how much you’re earning each month, you’ll have a full slate of work to begin with, and won’t stress about needing to generate fresh clients.
Advantage 5 – Build Up Your Portfolio
Having a portfolio (and a website) makes a huge difference in which writer is hired for a job. If you get these things taken care of ahead of time, you will dramatically increase your income.
With part-time freelance writing, you can piece together your portfolio (and website) as you progress. There is no rush as there is for a writer who urgently needs income.
By moonlighting, when you do switch over to full-time freelancing, the hard work and foundations have been laid.
OK, let’s consider the disadvantages of holding down a full-time job while trying to get your freelance business of the ground:
Disadvantage 1 – No Free Time
If you work full-time while moonlighting as a freelance writer, you will have very little time to do anything else.
If you are serious, and have client work to complete, then expect to spend at 3-4 hours working each night. If you get home from work at 6pm, this will take you to 10 pm. You also need to deal with your dinner, kids (possibly), your husband/ wife and the social expectations that come along.
You will need to be very disciplined to do this, and you can kiss your social life goodbye (for a few months). You will need to be selective about the work you take on, to ensure it can be completed on time.
If you are serious about transiting into freelance work, then this will be an acceptable workload to take on.
Disadvantage 2 – Tiredness
After reading the paragraph above, you will realize how tired you are likely to become. This may have an impact on your job, and your lifestyle, so be ready for it.
The demands of a day job require attention and concentration. However, you will feel tired when you get home at the end of the day. You must have your values clearly defined to stay motivated (especially after a long day). This is not hard if you’re committed, and look at it as a career transition.
As some people need more rest than others, planning is very important. You must know what you’re working on, so that you don’t waste time. Remember, part-time freelance writing should be a short term thing (2-6 months), until you build up your funds, portfolio and client connections.
Disadvantage 3 – Life Balance
As you’ll have very little time to relax and take a break, expect your stress levels to build up. Expect your friends and family to pressure you to take a break. You’ll have to face a lot of resistance in order to make a change. It will be easier if you have supportive people around you, but you’ll probably hear the following comments:
- “you’re always working”
- “take a break”
- “you never have time for me anyone”
- “is it really that important”
- “just leave it until later”
Stay the course. Keep your long-range purpose in mind, and eventually people will come round to you.
However, it can cause conflicts and stress, so, know it ahead of time and you can manage it. Always know what you are getting into and you will have the best chance of succeeding.
Disadvantage 4 – Missed Client Opportunities
Many clients will want work to a short deadline. In fact, you can earn lots of money by working on “rush” jobs.
But, with a full-time job, you’ll miss many of these gigs as you simply can’t commit (never risk your reputation). If you take the job, you must to be sure you can complete the work on time.
When you have to rush back from work to get the editing completed on an article, it can be tough. Full-time freelancers can write the copy, and take time away before editing. This is a much better way to write but takes much longer. This is a major drawback of part-time freelance writing.
Disadvantage 5 – Lunch Breaks Aren’t Productive
Many aspiring freelance writers think they can work on client projects during their lunch break.
This is incorrect.
Think about it: after inhaling some food, finding a library or place to work, you’ll have no more than 30 minutes to write or edit. Sure, you can get something done but don’t imagine that it will be enough time to make serious progress.
Are you a part-time freelance writer? If you’re a full-time freelance writer, how did you get started?
Add your own tips, or ask questions about part-time freelance writing, in the comments below.