Freelance Writing as a Side Hustle

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So you want to begin writing more. But you already have a full-time job. A side gig seems like just the ticket to give you the writing experience you seek while earning steady income from your day job.

Side gigs are common these days. People use them to earn extra cash to pay down debt, build a portfolio, begin a career transition or simply do work that they love that they can’t do during their regular job.

It is possible to have the best of both worlds. For example, my former co-worker Debbie worked full-time as an editorial assistant in our organization while pursuing a freelance writing career on the side. (This was several decades ago before social media and cell phones existed.) She used her private email to conduct business, contact editors and set up interviews. Research was done on her personal time on her home computer. Debbie occasionally used the office phone for business, but it was rare and the calls were short and to the point. Debbie worked this way for a couple of years before deciding she had enough clients to go freelance full-time.

Making the transition from full-time employee to full-time freelancer is not easy and does not happen overnight. It helps to have a side hustle as a bridge between the two. Side hustles help you gain valuable experience, increase your contacts, and eventually line up a steady stream of work before jumping into freelancing full time.

Before starting your side gig as a writer, consider these important points.

1. Be discreet with your communications. With the advances of modern technology, starting a freelance writing business as a side hustle is much easier to achieve than it was a few decades ago when my friend Debbie started her side gig. All the same, be sure to use your own computer equipment and electronic devices to conduct research, set up interviews and make phone calls. And be sure to do all that on your personal time, not company time.

2. Make sure you aren’t violating any company policies. Some companies frown on outside gigs but most seem to accept it as long as the side gig does not compete for the same clients or promote a competing product or service. Still to be on the safe side, speak with your supervisor to make sure you are not violating any policies. Assure them that you are still committed to your job, but that your writing gig is also important to you.

3. Schedule your writing time. With a side gig, your schedule is likely to be stretched to the limit. That means being smart about how you use your time. Review your schedule and see where there are gaps in your schedule that you can use for writing. Then put it in your calendar. If you get an hour for lunch, can you set aside half of that hour for writing? If your company provides 15-minute breaks for its employees, can you use them for setting up interviews or jotting down notes for story ideas? With fifteen minutes or a half hour, you’d be amazed how much writing you can get done in a short amount of time.

4. Remember that the day job comes first. No matter how tempting it is to work on your side hustle,  stay focused on your job responsibilities. Even if you hate your day job, slacking off will not put you in good stead with your employer. When you eventually leave the comforts of your day job to begin freelancing, you want to leave on the best of terms.

5. Be grateful that you have a paid gig. Many people who start freelancing don’t have that luxury. Take advantage of the security it offers you for the time being. It’s a gift. It allows you to work on your passion on the side.

6. Be patient. Creating a freelance business does not happen overnight. There’s a lot of prep work you need to do in advance to build your portfolio and build your confidence.

Writing as a side gig can be fun and exciting. But it’s also hard work, and it’s not for everyone. If you are someone who likes steady work and a steady income or if you’re uncomfortable with uncertainty, freelancing may not be for you. Starting a side gig might be a smart idea so you can decide if this is a route you want to pursue full time. You may decide you don’t want to, and that’s okay. At least you’ve made an informed decision based on actual experience.

To make your writing side hustle work, you need to decide if you’re willing to sacrifice your personal time, family time, socializing and hobbies to work your side gig. Are you willing to make that commitment? For ideas on how to get started, check on the links below and read about other writers who have done it – with success.

What about you? Are you writing as a side gig? Do you hope to transition to full-time freelancing at some point? What has your experience been like as a side hustler?

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