More than a third of all Americans have a side hustle.
And more than half of all millennials are supporting themselves with one, too, according to a recent Bankrate survey, whether it’s to pay off student loans, to afford their rising rent, or just to have some extra disposable income.
I started my side hustle, freelance writing, as a college student, and although it turned into my passion, I realized after graduating it wouldn’t work as a full-time gig. Instead, I got a full-time office job in social media while continuing to write on the side — an arrangement I’ve been balancing for three years.
Working a full-time job while maintaining a side hustle comes with a unique set of challenges, I’ve learned, and there are certain things I wish I had known beforehand.
Here are the things I wish someone had told me before I decided to balance a side hustle with a full-time job.
Freelance writing on the side is much more than just squeezing in some time for the act of writing itself.
I’ve learned that much of maintaining a side hustle comes down to the logistical and business aspects.
For me, that means invoicing, pitching, tracking expenses, traveling, researching editors and publications, networking, promoting my work on social media, updating my website — the list goes on.
It’s not just about making time to pursue my passion. The behind-the-scenes work is equally important to allow me to keep my side gig afloat.
When I was a full-time freelance writer, I aimed to send out multiple pitches a day and hoped to get various pieces published a week.
When I transitioned to balancing a full-time job with freelancing, I initially aimed to work on at least one piece a week. With time, that goal changed.
At first, I was hard on myself because I didn’t want to slow down my production. But I eventually realized I didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of my work in order to meet a number.
Some weeks your full-time job will take up a lot of your creativity, time, and labor. And that’s OK — your side hustle productivity can slow down in the meantime. In addition, some jobs might require that you limit the amount of time you spend on a side hustle.
All these factors led me to edit my goals. Lately I’ve been striving for qualitative goals (like getting a print byline by the end of the year) versus quantitative ones (like getting X amount of articles published per month). Or I try to adjust my goals to something that makes more sense with my work schedule.
Because so much of balancing full-time and freelance work comes down to making the most of your time, it’s important to find efficiency hacks.
When I was first getting started, I would often spend hours transcribing interviews from scratch. Then someone recommended Happy Scribe, a service that does the work for you. That allowed me to get more time to actually work on writing.
When I want to plan out my own personal Instagram posts, I use Later to schedule everything out. Another app, Digit, helps me set financial goals so I don’t need to stress as much about how much I’m making.
There are tons of tools out there to make your freelance work more productive and efficient.
How you present yourself online and IRL might change depending on your career goals and interests.
It is totally up to you whether you want to wed your identity to your full-time job, your freelance gig, or both. I’ve done public talks and interviews on both subjects at the same time, and sometimes just one subject.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about promoting yourself and your work. The most important part is to realize that if you want to grow your side hustle, you have to put yourself out there.
Freelancing means dealing with a lot of rejection.
Working a full-time job means negotiating, managing expectations, and meeting deadlines.
Sometimes you need to step away from both jobs in order to not burn yourself out.
I find that traveling, reading, seeing friends, and generally stepping away from my phone and computer help me feel revitalized for both my day job and writing. I could absolutely work throughout the weekend doing things for both my day job and side hustle, but that means I’ll run the risk of feeling exhausted come Monday morning.
Taking breaks is important and will ultimately feed whatever it is you’re working on.
Originally published on Business Insider.
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