Don’t hate freelancers with full-time jobs

JOB
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If you’ve followed the blog for very long, you know that I used to exclusively work as a freelance designer until about a year ago when I got a full-time job working in marketing.

Since that time, I’ve had a lot of people who have wondered what advice I can offer since I’m not a “real freelancer.”

Today, I advocate an anti-hate campaign for all you freelancers out there who also have full-time jobs.

Guess what:

I love my full-time job.

Guess what else: I love freelancing, blogging and being an entrepreneur.

And finally: I know there are lots of freelancers out there in the same boat I’m in. (If you’re out there, retweet, like, or stumble to share this post!)

‘Cause freelancing is incredibly diverse

I know there are some of you who freelance full-time. I think that’s awesome! There are also some of you who freelance for only an hour or two a week because you’re so busy with full-time jobs, family, and other commitments. I also think that’s awesome!

That’s the amazing thing about freelancing: there are no rules. You don’t have to freelance for a certain number of hours every week in order to be a “freelancer.” You don’t have to make a certain amount of money each year to be a “freelancer.” All you have to do is work on building your own business, make a little money independently, and enjoy what you’re doing!

So don’t hate freelancers with full-time jobs

And freelancers with full-time jobs, don’t hate full-time freelancers either. GDB is a place for all of us to exchange tips, help and advice about running a design business.

It’s a place where all of us–from designers who haven’t EVER freelanced to designers who freelance exclusively–join together to learn and build whatever kind of business we run.

What kind of freelancer are you?

So who are you? Do you freelance full-time? Work full-time and freelance on the side? Somewhere in between? Leave a comment on this post and let me know who you are and how you work.

And whatever you’re up to, keep on working hard and loving what you’re doing!

We’ll do our best here at GDB to keep you going!!

 

 

About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. Amen to that! I, too, am a freelance designer who also has a full-time job. I also love my job, but several years ago, I was forced to move from full-time to part-time, simply because of the economy and our firm not having enough work. It was then that I decided to start my own design business and do the freelance thing. When work started picking up again at my firm, I was asked to come back to full-time, but I didn’t want to stop building the business I had already started to nurture and grow. So I chose to do both. In these unstable economic times, it’s just made sense for me to maintain relationships with my freelance clients and continue to have an additional source of income. And it offers me more variety in the type of projects that I work on, and the people that I work with. I have seen posts on other freelance websites that suggest I should stop calling myself a freelancer… that what I am really doing is “just moonlighting”. I disagree. Everything I do for my freelance business–the work to find the clients, the work to maintain those clients, the expertise that I offer, the work put into the design, and the work to maintain a business, such as billing, taxes, insurance, and such–is the same as what a full-time freelancer does. I just have a full-time job in addition to all that (and a family waiting for me at home at the end of the day!). Thank you, Preston, for a great post!

    • Preston D Lee says:

      I agree, Katy! You’re a freelancer in my book! And you can stop by here and talk about freelancing any time!! I’d love to hear more about some of your experiences as a part-time freelancer. Best of luck!

  2. Preston, I have a similar situation. I have a nice contract, working full time, but I still freelance. On my website, I say that I freelance, but I don’t actively pursue it. When people come to me, especially my established clients, I know they need my help and it’s hard to say no. Besides, I love the work they bring me. I love working on something different than my full time contract.

    I used to freelance full time. The economy dropped out and I had to find a more stable income. But I never stopped freelancing. Establishing yourself as a freelancer takes so much effort, that it would be a complete waste to throw all that effort away. I think freelancing is all about relationships and relationships are too valuable to discard.

    Bottom line, a freelancer is a freelancer, regardless if it’s full time or not. So don’t hate! This economy has been tough on many designers. I know a few young designers that changed careers, if maybe just until this recession blows over. Keep up the good work Preston.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Steve,
      Great to see you back here at the blog! Thanks for the great comment. You got me wondering, where do most of your clients come from if you don’t actively pursue them?

      • I’m not the most active person online, but I do follow your tweets and read your blog quite a bit. You have a great blog, keep it up!

        Most of my clients come from word-of-mouth or people I know. My neighbor down the street might be my biggest freelance client. It’s been a real win/win situation. Every so often, someone win contact me through my website. I’ve had quite a few organic hits from people searching on Google. Sometimes I will contact a post on Craigslist. I only do that if it sounds like a good fit. Most of those posts are from people looking for something for nothing. Know what I mean?

  3. Thank you for this post. I recently started a new job that I love and I continue to freelance in my spare time and business is better than ever right now. Freelancing is a broad term that can be applied to anyone making extra money on the side or running a business full-time. We shouldn’t segregate ourselves into buckets of full-time freelancers and part-timers because we all go through the same trials and tribulations of finding clients and meeting deadlines.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Laura,
      Thanks for sharing! Believe it or not, my freelance business became MORE successful after I got a full time job aside from freelancing. Why? Because I had to prioritize my time and efforts and find ways to generate passive income.

      Your comment is well-said. We’re all freelancers anyway, so who cares, right!?

  4. Great post! I can understand where you’re coming from. As of right now I am a full-time freelance designer. It’s difficult to save money and live off an income that isn’t steady. I’ve more than once thought about getting a part or full-time job… But freelancing is something I just enjoy so much! Until I can find the perfect full-time job in my area, I’ll be pushing as a freelancer.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Brent,
      I think the point is doing something that you love, right? If that’s freelancing full-time, GREAT. If it’s freelancing part-time and finding another full-time job, GREAT TOO. There’s no “one perfect answer” for any designer. I wish you the best of luck in your freelancing endeavors!

  5. Great post. I am an aspiring freelancer looking to jump on board in February. I am self taught for web and graphic design and am eagerly waiting to start my new career. While I will start off part time to build clients and experience – I look forward to starting a studio with my brother this up coming summer. Best of luck to all of you on your freelance journey!!

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Brian,
      Best of luck to you as you try to jump on board with freelancing!! It’s a great lifestyle and you’re going to love it! If you need an extra boost, check out my ebook that will help you through the first 11 days of your design business: http://www.bit.ly/GDB_P2P

  6. I freelance full time, but I have a single contract that generates between 60-70% of my income each month. I don’t, personally, have any interest at all in ever entering an employee type relationship again as long as I live, but, hey, those that do prefer the security they perceive in that, I can fully understand.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Dane,
      That’s an awesome set up. I’d love it if you would share how you landed that gig with GDB readers. Interested?

      For me, it’s not as much about security (although that’s an important factor) as it is about doing what I love to do. The job I got is something I’ve always wanted to try and I’m loving it!

  7. Very refreshing to see this post. I ,too, have worked full-time and freelanced for over 6 years. I’ve gained a lot of invaluable experiences as a freelancer. But working full-time has really allowed me to streamline my entrepreneurial efforts into a niche that I really enjoy. As a full-time freelancer, I was considered a “Jacqueline-of-all-trades” designer. I didn’t like it very much. So I split my efforts in two…my full-time gig as a Legal Book Editor and Designer…my freelance gig…I’m an Invitation Designer. I love working with people and making their special days even more spectacular.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Lisa,
      That’s really cool! I love that your full-time job has allowed you to get really niche with your design business!

  8. Same here, guys. I work for a little ad agency during the days, and freelance into the night, while still taking time for my wife and kids. I’ve actually gotten so used to it, that I am bored if I don’t have as many freelance projects going at a time, and I haven’t had too much trouble keeping a balance with the family, hobbies etc. It can be done!

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Jordan,
      It’s all about balancing life and doing what you love, right? I am the same as you, I have to have something going on all the time or I get bored all the time. Of course, I find myself much less bored ever since my son came along about 16 months ago – ha!

  9. Full time job here! Doing little freelance on the side, but slowly doing more and more. Having a family with kids that get sick a lot has made me stay primarily for the health benefits until I can make enough freelancing to balance that out.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Cliff, that’s a pretty common reason to keep your day job: benefits. In fact, a notable entrepreneur said something like this (sorry, unsure of details. I just remember reading it):

      While you’re learning to start and run a business, keep your day job. Your wife and children deserve the stability, the security, and the benefits.

      I agree. Having a full-time job allows me to build my business at my own pace. It gives me more freedom to experiment with passive income etc. That way, if something flops in my freelance business, I still have stable income.

  10. I’ve never liked the term “Freelance” as it implies working for free or at a discounted rate. I prefer tell potential clients that “I run my own design business” or that “I’m a business owner”. No matter what job I had in the past: part-time or full-time, I was always running the biz. Everyone needs a hobby, right? And 13 years later, no complaints here.

    • The term actually goes back to actual lances, medieval weapons, which were not sworn to a lord, but free for hire. Most certainly not “free as in beer”, and actually some of the best paid people of the time.

      I’d say I wear the name with more pride than deserved. ;)

      • Preston D Lee says:

        Yeah, Dane, you’re right. “Free” Lances weren’t tied down by any particular squire. I’ve never heard the payment comment. Where did you learn that from? I’d be interested to hear more about how much they made.

        Wear that title with pride!! :)

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Chuck,
      Interesting. I know some designers who are “Independent Designers” or “Independent Contractors” instead of freelancers. I usually use the terms that you mentioned. Something like “I’m an entrepreneur.”

      Glad things are going well. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Gee, I thought I was the only one crazy enough to work freelance AND full time. A while back I got laid off from a full time job and put all of my energy into starting my own business. It wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage so I pursued part-time employment. When that business asked me to work full time, I couldn’t say no. Especially since it came along right as my unemployment was about to run out. Now I’m doing both, feeling like the dream of running my own studio has just been interrupted until I can acquire enough business to get back to that full time. I love parts of both situations; love the health coverage and security from my full time job, but LOVE the rush of doing my own thing on the side. Good luck to all of you in the same boat! We truly are super heros.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Doreen, you’re definitely not crazy! Glad you’ve found a happy medium for now. I wish you the best now and in the future!

  12. Let me hear an AMEN! I work full-time at a consulting engineering firm Monday-Friday 8-5 and freelance design approximately 5 hours a week or more, depending on my work load. I also run another small business. So I’m busy, but I do what I can, when I can and all of the great ideas I receive from GDB have helped both my freelance design and other small business grow and expand astronomically over the last year! Thanks for all that you do and taking time out of your busy day to support the rest of us!

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Bree,
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m always so happy when I hear that the content here at GDB helps people build their design business (or any business for that matter).

      How can I help you even more this year? I’d love to know…

  13. I am working only 8 hours a day as the job employer but i plan to make my blog as the sells page to promote some designs and some tutorials. i found in jdb a good site to help me to do my blog sells page.

  14. Count me in as a guilty supporter hybrid full time and freelancer.. If you’re happy in a company of excellent people and can still have time to help others in the off hours, and have balance in your life…what could be better? The point is control of your own destiny. I think I’d love to have a 3-day a week day job and freelance the rest to keep things different. Too bad in most cultures, the 8-10 hour 5-day week reigns, because I’d rather see less required hours and more time to get involved in other interests, be it family, local govt, volunteering, and of course freelance in the same or different fields.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Mike,
      The point is TOTALLY to have control of your destiny. People tell me I’m bound down by a full-time job, but I love it and, frankly, if I ever begin to hate it, I could quit any time, right? Although, I doubt that will happen any time soon. I agree about the hours comment. It would be awesome to plan a unique day every day!

  15. Been in the same boat for a while now — with a young family, the benefits I get from my full-time gig are too good to pass up, while the variety of work I get from freelancing keeps everything from getting stale. I could definitely use more hours in the day, but I feel like I’m in a pretty enviable position with the job market where it is.

  16. I think its nice to have a full time job and freelance on the side. I work for a print company full time and have just started doing freelance a few months ago for about 3 days a week. I’m wondering Preston, where do you draw the line in recommending a potential client your services or the services of your full time company. Have you used the company you work for in helping you complete projects for your freelance business?

  17. I think this is an indication of a shift in dynamics resulting directly from the current downturn.
    We may see a lot of creative freelancers go to the ‘other side’. Nothing wrong with that. Believe it’s good to have change happen every now and then. This period is also a real test of the strongest will survive. Great post Preston!

  18. I work a part time job on the side….I consider freelancing my main gig. I hope to be able to do it full time some day, but even though my pay check from the job isn’t much, it’s at least steady. I’m afraid they’re going to offer me a full time job though, and then I’ll be faced with a tough decision. I’ve worked so hard for 2 years to get where I’m at, I hate to give up now. I love the freedom that I have every day, and that’s worth quite a bit to me.

  19. Great post, Preston!

    I got laid off from my full-time job last February. Since then I’ve been a freelancer, but occasionally I’ll take contract jobs while I build my freelance repertoire and contacts. Last summer I took a contract (full-time) job to cover a maternity leave, and it went so well that they’ve asked me to come back (part-time) for the month of January as they are swamped. Steady pay isn’t a bad thing! I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask me again come their giant trade show in August/September.

    Taking on a contract job makes for busy days for a while, though, so I have passed on contract opportunities that are longer term as well as ones with longer commutes. I definitely don’t want to shortchange my freelance clients in communication or deadlines, so I pick and choose carefully.

    I find that this provides greater job security than just having one or the other. I feel that there are many contract opportunities out there so if I need I can just bounce from one to the other, and having a great experience with a company leads to them asking for you back instead of going through the recruitment process again!

    I also referee high school sports, and I write for this awesome blog that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. *wink* *laugh*

  20. I am a 40 y.o. freelance graphic artist trying to turn art into my full-time job. I am currently in between jobs as a registered nurse and decided this was the best time to start really working on my dream career! I have oodles of experience working with clients and graphics in an office setting and I’ve been drawing since I was 8. For years, I have been involved with an area music band, creating the artwork for their site, cds and promos. I’m also involved in a nursing project to provide cover art for a book being written. I LOVE this work! If I could at least turn this into a part-time career for now I’d be the happiest I’ve ever been!

  21. I am a full-time designer, and also do a decent amount of freelance. I love my full-time job, and also enjoy the freelance work. I’ve been with my company for 12 years now, so the freelance work is a nice change of pace. This past year the freelance work has started to really take off. If I didn’t have kids, I think I’d make a run at full-time freelancing, but with mouths to feed, I really can’t get away from the steady pay-check.

  22. This is a great conversation.

    I say this from a good place, but an honest place. The reason that some designers get upset about this is because they have years and tears poured into being designers who have only run their design shops. It’s been their career, only to see their business go away because of designers who moonlight and the entry of lower skilled designers. It is an extremely competitive industry now. This causes this union-esque mentality to protect their livelhood which is anti-competitive. I believe that designers who see this as a problem have to simply be more competitive. Period. It’s like the record industry trying to keep the same business model they had before technology. You can not turn back the hands of time on technology. You have to be simply innovative and creative in your business. Seasoned Photographers have very similar complaints.

    I truly cherish the experience and hard work of seasoned designers. But having an anti-competitive viewpoint is not their solution.

  23. I know I’m a little late to the conversation- But I hold a full time job and do freelance work on the side. I love it, as well- especially since I work for a non-profit organization that helps children in poverty. My full time job keeps my business side sharp, gets me connected to printers and other designers in the area, and fuels my passion of creativity, merging it with my passion to help those in need. And as we all know, non-profits don’t pay the greatest, so keeping a slow and steady freelance job on the side helps bump up the income and helps remind me I also design things such as logos and letterheads, something I do not do at my full time job. I love both worlds… It’s a perfect mix for me.

  24. Great post! Would love to say more but got to get back to work. ;)

  25. I also have the same situation, I was actually working as a freelancer full time and I now have have a full time job, the reason why I decided to get a full time job is because I feel more stable with it, although I must say that I miss been a freelancer and I miss the freedom it gives, I still do some freelancing work to earn some extra money and hopefully in the future I will be able to become a freelancer full time once again.

  26. If you have a full time job and also free lance in the same area of expertise, that could bring too many questions into play.

    From an employers perspective :
    a) How do I ensure that you are not taking the ideas and techniques learned in my company environment and applying them at a lower cost to your free lance clients?
    b) Whose clients get priority? Your full time job is a guaranteed check on pay day, while your part time clients is the cream on top of the pay day.
    c) Would you call in sick to finish a free lance client job – especially when there is money on the table for urgent work?

    I prefer that employees do not free lance. If they have to, there has to be a great communication system in place – the employer has to know all the details of the type of work, etc. Again, it makes for too much complication.

    One caveat is when your type of job / free lancing has a measurable factor. I need you to make 10 widgets today and I couldn’t care less as long as the 10 widgets were made.

  27. I too work full-time, and freelance on the side. One of the things I love about my day job is the interaction with [most of] my coworkers. My day job also provides health insurance – a definite perk. One of the down sides to said day job is the “crap” work that goes along with the cool projects. I hate forms! But I love designing custom marketing pieces, working on the social media graphics and marketing, and working within a team.

    A plus to my freelance work is that I only take projects that I’m interested in; this doesn’t put the food on the table. Instead, it helps me continue to improve my design skills, and support my digital printmaking habit!

    Ultimately, I want to call the shots all the time. But the day job now gives me the chance to explore how other folks do design work and go after the customers.

  28. rite now im working on probation for 6 month with some animation company,but a few days ago an old friend of mine ask me to make a story for media production(animation) while still maintaining my rights.the problem is i still in contract with this company and i like it here, but im afraid my full time work would be in jeopardy and i might get sued for not going with the agreement if i do independent work with my friend…im confused…(-_-”) can u give me some advise..?

  29. Good article. As a freelancer I always want to learn something new,
    your article is very helpful to me. Your article will encourage others to work full time job in freelancer.

    How to Build A Business Using Freelancers

  30. Preston, you have given the community another awesome post. I’ve started building my freelance business over the last few years while working full-time. My full-time job is with a screen print and embroidery company. The work I do here is great because designing for t-shirts and apparel is fun. As a creative designer, I want to work on different types of projects. That’s why I have started freelancing and building my business.

    I really enjoy reading this blog and will continue to do so. Today alone I have shared many of the posts with my twitter followers because I think your advice is strait forward and easy to understand. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

  31. I’ve spent many hours worrying about whether running an own web business is a safe career choice in the long run, but I’ve always came to the conclusion, that if someone can pay me $3k a month for doing web programming and design, why should I not be able to get that money from the market myself, and be my own boss.

    I think the security of a full-time job is an illusion from a certain perspective. There is STILL somebody behind you, who gets clients, pays you and of course making better money.

    I don’t say that it’s 100% that I’ll never have a job again (I’m 26), but I certainly don’t want to.

  32. Laila Handayani says:

    Hi,
    just surfed the internet about freelance plus full time job and landed in your article. Nice one !
    I’m currently working fultime as Occupational Safety & Health Manager in a manufacturing company in Indonesia. I do love my job ! That’s why I accept offering from a Safety Consultant – germany based, working as their freelancer. The working term is to provide safety consultancy service to their client in Indonesia. Eventhough at this moment there is not so many project in Indonesia.
    Normally I take unpaid-leave if I have to do the freelance job. My current employer does not know this situation. Do I have to inform my boss as well ?

  33. I know this is an old post, but I like the content on this. I struggle everyday as a graphic design freelancer by night and a full designer by day at my full time job. I love to do both because it gives you a different creative edge. Especially when you are an in-house designer, you get to have the creative freedom with freelancing. I want to know from other designers how they do both without conflict. I try to keep it separate and be true to my bread and butter, but if one of your clients needs you during the day how do you go about it. Is it wrong to take the day off to do side work? Is there a time when you need to make a choice between your client and your other job? By the way I am never big on reading blogs, but love to read GDB. It’s very helpful.

  34. I’ve done it all: started out 17 years ago as a freelancer, worked in-house full time for large corporations while freelancing on the side, back to freelancer, in-house again and so on. I’m now a very happy full time solopreneur (I like that term). I enjoy the variety of work, the ability to choose what I work on and who I work with and working in my sweats in my comfy home office with my pets nearby. What I miss about the full time in-house jobs is the spirit of collaboration, reliable income and benefits. I say do whatever makes you happy and frees your mind up to do your best work whether it’s solo, full time or hybrid!

  35. Chandra Tincombe says:

    I guess I would be considered a part time freelancer, with young kids my full time job is Mom. Because I live in a small northern community my only option for working in my field as a designer is to go out on my own. We are 8 hours away from the nearest major city so there are no design firms or ad agencies at all. In fact with most of my clients I’ve had to work pretty hard to explain just what a graphic designer does and how my expertise is valuable to them. Get a lot of blank looks when I say I’m a graphic designer… so it’s been a slow process but I am starting to get my name out there and have gotten a couple of decent contracts. Still not at the point where people come to me, it’s more like I identify a need within an organization and just start contacting them and submitting proposals until they listen to me and let me explain why they need my services. There’s very much an attitude of “good enough” around here so it’s been an uphill battle. Luckily my husband has a steady full time job that allows me to pursue my own business on my schedule.

  36. Rama Sivamani says:

    There are many different types of freelancers so we should keep an open mind about it. I am curious though many of the people who responded on here are freelancers that do not have to physically be ready to travel at a moment’s notice for a freelance gig. I wonder how much harder it is to keep a day job and a freelance job that requires a lot of mobility travel wise. For example editorial photographers that have to travel for gigs. Honestly, it’s not that I hate freelancers with full time jobs but I wonder how some of them are able to stay available for their freelance clients and still work their day jobs.

  37. Anna Thompson says:

    Wow, so glad I’ve found this post! I’ve been working as a freelancer for 2 years. In the beginning it was a proposal a marketing agency did to me as I was returning to work after had my second son. It was supposed to be temporary until I find a full-time job, but things were difficult at the time and the money was good so I continued to freelance and win 2 more clients in that time.

    But since the beginning of this year I started having half of the work I used to have last year and we started to have financial issues at home. I’ve decided to seek a full-time job again and guess what, had a job offer 2 weeks ago! I’m starting my new full-time employment position mid June and I was wondering if I can maintain my 2 existing clients. I have long term contracts with them and don’t want to give up everything I’ve had as a freelancer. I’m not sure if my employment contract will allow me to continue working as a freelance, but I hope so!

    I’m also developing an online project I have that I would like to be my business in the future and maybe even one day be able to stop my full-time job and focus on just that, but for now I need stability and a steady income so I think that a full-time job doing what I love and also continuing to freelance is perfect. Glad to know so many people do that as well!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Now remember, you’re talking to a guy here with a wife and toddler who has a full-time job as a marketer/designer and freelances on the nights and weekends (don’t hate me). [...]

  2. [...] Now remember, you’re talking to a guy here with a wife and toddler who has a full-time job as a marketer/designer and freelances on the nights and weekends (don’t hate me). [...]

  3. […] job (only if it adds value to your life and lets you pursue your passions in life…remember, don’t hate freelancers with full-time jobs), I have to wonder why job security seems to be such an […]

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