Deciding to write professionally has its benefits. One of them is freedom — you typically have a lot of say in what you write about and, sometimes, who you write for.
When I started writing full-time, I planned on phasing out my freelance clients over the first few months as I adjusted to my new work environment. But I found that going to work during the day and freelancing nights and weekends was not only completely manageable for me, but beneficial as well.
Not everyone can or should try to juggle a full-time job, a blog, and multiple freelance gigs. Maybe you’re considering giving it a shot. Or maybe you’re thinking about either switching from freelancing to full employment, or leaving your company to freelance.
Let me ask you this: could you do both?
Trying to decide whether to switch from writing for an organization full-time to freelancing for multiple clients — or the other way around — is tough. There are pros and cons to both. Which is why, if you’re up for the task, it’s possible to do both. Not easy — but possible.
Here are some benefits I’ve found in my own experience — and a few things to watch out for before you commit to taking on a lot of extra work.
There’s no such thing as boredom
On both sides, in writing, there’s a lot of repetition. Long-term clients get used to you doing the same things over and over again, and rarely ask you (especially in the short-term) to switch things up or take on extra responsibilities. Writing on behalf of a company, you also fall into a routine — and if you want to write, but need a little more excitement from week to week, you might benefit from a full-time job with a few freelance projects on the side.
I get “bored” easily — as much as I love routine, doing the exact same thing every day for months on end can get tiring. Maybe you don’t need more than a few things to keep you occupied and satisfied — and if that’s the case, you might be fine just sticking with one job or a collection of varying obligations. I prefer a variety of styles, topics, and subjects within a niche — but it’s totally OK if you don’t.
Diversifying your income adds a much-needed layer of security
As a writer, it’s never a good idea to maintain only one source of steady income. Because the way the professional publishing world works, anything could happen. Consistent work becomes inconsistent, or non-existent, in a matter of hours. Sites shut down abruptly. Decisions are made without your input, and suddenly, you lose an income stream. You have to be prepared for anything.
That’s one thing I love about having options. Though my full-time job is obviously my priority — and my largest income source, especially if you include benefits — it’s nice to know I’m not just relying on that paycheck. Besides, it also means I can do good work and actually enjoy it more, because I’m not subconsciously worrying about the reward. Don’t get me wrong — the reward is much appreciated. But it becomes more of an automation, something I know I’m going to have, and lets me focus on the work itself.
Important things to consider
- If you’re writing full-time for a company, YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE they don’t have a policy that restricts their employees’ involvement with other publications. Some organizations require that you work exclusively for them while you are employed. ALSO BE AWARE OF COMPETING ORGANIZATIONS. Some publications also provide a list of competitors you CANNOT write for during and for a designated period of time after you work with them.
- Don’t do this if you’re not good at compartmentalizing. Time-management is absolutely essential if you’re going to juggle paid work between different clients, or between your employer and other publications. If you’re easily distracted, if you can’t manage multiple projects at once — honestly, if you can’t go to work in the morning, write for eight hours, come home, and write for at least two or three more hours — you don’t have to. It’s probably best you don’t.
- Also don’t do this just for the money. If you switch to full-time freelancing, or full-time writing for an organization, and you love your work, it’s OK to accept your single paycheck as-is and consider an extra project or two once or twice a month to keep you busy. But it’s going to get extremely frustrating if you hold on to the extra projects solely for the financial reward. Especially when it comes to freelancing, the work you do doesn’t always pay out as much as it should. It’s a nice extra to have, but if you honestly don’t NEED it, and that’s your only motivation, it might be time to let go.
This is not for everyone. Don’t feel like you’re a failure or lazy because you can only work on a few things at a time! I know I’m not the best example of proper work-life balance, and I really hope my suggestions are beneficial to those of you trying to decide if you want to do more things, and not discouraging to those who don’t feel they can handle it. EVERYONE is different, handles their work differently, and exhibits different levels of discipline. You have to do what you have to do.
Above all, never sacrifice quality for quantity. If you’re dividing your time between too many clients, and your work is suffering, downsize. Trust me, doing amazing work, just less of it, is much more beneficial in the long-term than doing so-so work for a dozen different people. Putting all the effort you can into your work shows that you value who you work for, and the work itself. Always, always put quality first. Quantity comes with time.
So, get out there. Do the amount of work that makes sense for you — and do it well. I’m rooting for you!
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.