Some Quick Tips for Balancing a Full Time Job While Building Your Freelance Writing Business


If I had to pick one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing, it would have to be building a freelance writing business while still working full time at my day job. I did this for two years, from 2000 to 2002, and also in 2008 and 2009 when I had a full time social media job. As much as I love to write, sometimes the last thing I wanted to do after a full day of work was to come home and work again. Plus, many clients want to talk on the phone during business hours, something I couldn’t always give them.  I had to find some balance and a way to make it work, especially if I wanted to freelance full time.

You can freelance and work full time and still make it work. Maybe some of these tips will help you achieve some balance too:

Only take as many clients as you can handle

You might be tempted to take as many opportunities as you can in order to build up a client base and save enough money to leave your day job for good.  Before you do, make sure you can handle the work load. Also consider how all your spare time will be spent writing. No TV. No reading. No family game night…just work. However, if you take one opportunity at a time until you know how many hours of your time you can devote each evening or weekend, you might find a more doable solution for you and your family.  Try one client at a time to start and adjust as necessary.

Set aside time to communicate with clients

Not everyone can call freelance writing clients or handle emails from their days jobs. You might have to handle communication during your lunch hour. You might even have to make those calls from your cell phone from the local deli.  The last thing you want is for your moonlighting to interfere with your day job but you can find a workable solution. Not all clients come from 9 to 5 businesses either. Find out whether or not they can talk to you in the evenings or on weekends. You’ll find many are flexible and willing to work with you.

Set a realistic schedule

Working late into the night or rising early in the morning is how many of us found the time to write when we were still working full time. I can’t speak for all the other writers who did this, but I can tell you I was always tired and cranky from rising at 4:00 a.m.  If you’re dead tired throughout the day, you won’t be able to focus on your work at night. Set a realistic schedule and don’t let your desire to freelance full time get in the way of everything else you do.

It’s possible

Having a full time job while building a freelance writing business is absolutely doable, but try not to make the mistake of biting off more than you can chew. A common mistake among aspiring freelancers is to keep accepting gigs even if it means sacrificing precious sleeping time.  Be careful not to over do it. Start out small and grow as you go.


14 responses
  1. Dan Avatar

    It’s good to know that it is possible to develop a successful freelance writing career whilst holding down a full time and FWJ is proof of that!

    I’m working 70+ hours a week at the minute. Including commuting, I’m out of the house from 8:00am in the morning until 6:00pm at night, Monday to Friday.

    From 6:00pm until 11:30pm (on average – it was 1:30am the other night – ugh) I carry out my freelance writing and maintaining my own blogs. I’ll also generally put in a few hours on a weekend if time permits.

    Fortunately, I really do enjoy my writing, so whilst the days are long at the minute, it’s not a chore and hopefully, it won’t be forever.

    I think the most difficult point for me is finding the time to look for new clients that pay higher than a lot of my current work. Whilst a lot of the clients I work with pay relatively well, it’s not great, but the work is regular and makes up a substantial amount of freelance income, meaning i’m in a bit of Catch 22 situation.

    I’m slowly but surely managing to take on higher paying work and let the lower paying gigs go, but it’s taking time. Hopefully it will all be worth it in a year or so.

    Great post, Deb and again, proof that putting in the long hours really does pay off!
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Just A Quick Update Then Back To The Blog Posts – Promise! =-.

  2. Christina G. Avatar
    Christina G.

    Wow Dan, work it! I too had to accept that I was a limited resource and had to make some drastic changes recently. Life and work is all about choices right? I think that’s where we get lost sometimes, we don’t want to face the crossroads and we overextend ourselves. It’s not usually until we end up in the hospital or destroying our social lives that we finally face reality. The key is finding out what you really want to do and then figuring out what you NEED to do to get there.

  3. Phil Avatar


    But I have to disagree somewhat with No. 1. Take on as many clients as you can get (and pay what you consider to be an acceptable rate). If you find yourself with too many, raise rates. Or outsource work during busy times (can only be done with selective clients) and pull it back when times are slow.

    Another suggestion: Schedule as much as possible, including family events. I coached for a few years. That was on the schedule. Helps make sure you keep professional/personal balance.

    Other scheduling can be a little more fluid, without specific times of the day, but by listing it, you know it’s something you have to do. James Chartrand had an interesting idea of scheduling for “stuff happens” or something like that every day for the unexpected. This allows one to build time in the schedule for unexpected phone calls, dealing with insurance (something I need to do today) or other issues that come up daily. Right now, until my bad knee says enough, I’m scheduling 6 miles on the treadmill every day, but it tends to be 10 minutes here, 8 minutes there, etc., until after the work day, when I finish up what’s left. (I have found in the past that anything more than six miles leaves me too worn out the next day).

  4. Christopher Avatar

    Great post. It’s definetly a challenge to work a full time job and freelance at the same time. On top of that I have little ones to take care of. To say the least there are days when I just can’t get much done but I just keep trying. Eventually I’ll make it. I think things will be much easier when I can switch to full time working from home. It will be easier to organize my schedule.
    .-= Christopher´s last blog ..35 Things I Have Learned From Working Online =-.

  5. Dan Avatar

    Christopher – you’re holding down a full time job, trying to launch a freelance writing career and have kids two look after?

    I thought I was finding it hard with two cats!
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Just A Quick Update Then Back To The Blog Posts – Promise! =-.

    1. Christopher Avatar

      Yup, I have to do it somehow. It will get easier eventually. Oh and I wouldn’t worry about the typos, I have more then I care to admit lol.
      .-= Christopher´s last blog ..35 Things I Have Learned From Working Online =-.

  6. Dan Avatar

    Argh – typed ‘two’ instead of ‘to’ because i’m rushing. Is there anywhere more embarrassing I could have done that than on a forum dedicated to freelance writers?
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Just A Quick Update Then Back To The Blog Posts – Promise! =-.

  7. Anne Wayman Avatar

    I did it with three kids… and a great dane… but not with a full-time job. Or rather I had a full-time job that I was able to do in way less than that most weeks so I negotiated with my employer and was able to both write for myself at work and to go home when there wasn’t anything for me to do and write there.

    In other words I was able to turn a full-time job into part time without losing pay. Not always possible, but more often possible than you might imagine… and it doesn’t hurt to ask, usually.
    .-= Anne Wayman´s last blog ..New Worlds – Quotes To Inspire Writers =-.

    1. Christopher Avatar

      Not a bad idea, although I work at a factory. The only writing opportunity I saw was maybe helping them put together a newsletter for fellow workers. I should probably just bite the bullet and ask about it. You never know till you try right?
      .-= Christopher´s last blog ..35 Things I Have Learned From Working Online =-.

  8. Chris Avatar

    Thanks for chatting about this, that is exactly what I am trying to do right now! And it sure is a lot to handle. So much work, so little time, thanks for the tips!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Discount Tire Stores =-.

  9. Bridget Avatar

    This is definitely a challenge area for me. Until recently, I worked full time at an office for customer service. I wanted to freelance but couldn’t find the time. Now, I am building a freelance career and seeking more clients to make my venture successful. If I have to return to full-time to make ends meet, I worry that my freelance will suffer. I try to contact clients on breaks, or whenever. But’s a juggling act.

  10. Johnny Avatar

    Good tips. Avoiding “rushing” yourself into work by putting extra pressure on yourself is very important because that will help you provide quality content and in the long term will increase your returning customers.

  11. commercial lawn maintenance Avatar

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  12. Pam Avatar

    But how do you find the jobs? I apply and don’t hear back, ever!
    I’m working full-time but have plenty to write about. I just can’t seem to find people who will take me seriously and give me a shot.

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