Freelance in 40 Days [Day 1]: Full Time Or Part Time, That Is The Question

Posted: August 24th, 2009

Photo by Joan Thewlis (Flickr)

Photo by Joan Thewlis (Flickr)

Welcome to the first day of the Freelance in 40 Days series.

Some of you may already be freelancers with varying levels of experience. Others may be on the verge of saying “what the hell” and giving it a try. Either way, we’ve all probably stared down at a common dilemma:

Should I take on freelancing part-time or full-time?

Every freelancer knows this is important to decide before you even begin. Today we’ll go over this question in depth.

The primary factor in making this decision is if there is a source of income or savings that you can fall back on while you are getting your feet wet. While this isn’t an absolute requirement, it definitely adds a crucial level of security since not all careers start out with projects lined up left and right waiting for you in your inbox.

It is more common to maintain a job and freelance part-time which has it’s benefits as well as some drawbacks. For example:

  • Benefit: Less stress and worry if your business isn’t quite taking off as you hoped.
  • Benefit: You can concentrate on other important, non-paying aspects of your freelance business, such as marketing yourself, rather than having to take on projects right away to earn an income.
  • Drawback: You are prone to burnout with the added freelance work.
  • Drawback: The free time you enjoyed before gets eaten up in a hurry.

Meanwhile, freelancing full-time also has it’s pluses and minuses:

  • Benefit: You can fully dedicate your time and energy to just your business.
  • Benefit: You have more free time outside of your work and the freedom to schedule around it.
  • Drawback: Like many new businesses, it may take time to earn your desired income.
  • Drawback: The stress of not earning enough can overwhelm a new freelancer enough to quit entirely.

Therefore, when choosing whether part-time or full-time is best for you, it helps to ask yourself the following questions:

What is your current level of preparation?
Those who start out full-time tend to have some indirect knowledge of freelancing, clients available right from the start and/or enough savings in the bank to cover expenses for several months. On the other hand, freelancing part-time, with a job to fall back on, gives you the time to develop your skills and obtain a client base over time instead. Plus, this is without requiring experience and savings from the start.

What is your level of commitment?
Part-time freelancing allows you to test the waters and see if it suits you in case there are any doubts. Freelancing full-time requires a serious commitment and a realization that you may have to get through financially lean times early in your career.

How much time can you afford?
Working a full-time job and freelancing on the side takes a serious toll on your time and can be difficult, especially if you have kids. Making the jump full-time to freelancing or possibly cutting back your regular job hours may be needed for you to continue.

Your Homework For Today

You may have already made up your mind about freelancing full-time or part-time. If you are still undecided, though, now is the time to weigh your options and decide. Each has it’s own benefits and drawbacks but there should be one that clearly suits you better.

For more insight and tips to help you get a better feel of full-time and part-time freelancing, check out the following resources:

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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