5 Tips to Take on Freelance PR Work (When you already have a job)
Don’t be fooled, freelancing with a full-time job is the same thing as working two jobs. Sure, your second job is more flexible and can mostly be done in your pjs, but you’re still working.
A full-time job may be enough to get you by financially, but sometimes we need to pursue our own passion projects: in comes your side hustle. You’re getting some experience and working on something you love, so what could go wrong?
There’s nothing simple about a juggling act. And more often than not, you may find yourself overwhelmed with your newfound professional bounty. With a few guidelines to help you out, you won’t have to worry about your sanity getting lost in the shuffle.
1. Create home “office hours” for your freelance projects
Great, you leave the office by 5pm and get home by 5:30pm, now what? Map out your time. Maybe you get off early on Fridays, so they’re optimal to get freelance tasks done. Or you can squeeze in two hours to finalize a press release before you begin your Netflix binge.
It’s important to know the amount of time you can block out for your freelance work so that you don’t end up using your weekends to catch up on a project rather than catch up on your sleep. I block out certain hours after work in my calendar for the week, and give my client the total before the weekend so that they know exactly how much time I’m able to devote to their brand. The more you keep a client in the loop, the less emails and calls they’ll send your way, trust me.
2. Beware of over booking yourself
So you clocked in the full 40 hours in the office, and your freelance client has an upcoming event that same weekend, that may keep you up late a few nights. No need to panic; one or two hectic weeks here and there is just a normal part of having a career. However, finishing a crazy full-time workweek, staying up until 1am every night writing some marketing content, and having to down three coffees and Red Bulls a day just to get by is not normal—and completely unhealthy.
Burnout is the last thing you need when you want to make your side hustle work out in your favor. Remember why you’re doing this! Freelancing isn’t just a way to get some more money in the bank, but it’s also a way to unleash your creativity while doing something you love.
Do not let your love for something fade because you’ve been over working yourself. Get your control back by limiting the projects you work on, and getting real about the amount of time you are able to commit to your bonus endeavors.
3. Prioritize your 9-5
Never, ever attempt to get way with doing freelance work at your day job. The two should always be kept separate. Feel free to use your commute and lunch hour wisely, but other than that you’re asking for trouble if you’re working on an outside project during your nine-to-five.
You should also check your job at the door. Meaning, leave work at work and get into freelance mode when you get to your home office desk. When I get home, I turn off all notifications for my regular job, as well as personal pings. I want to ensure that the time I spend on my freelance projects is devoted to those clients alone. Don’t forget, your freelance clients deserve your full-time style focus.
4. Find a support network
Freelancing is similar to being an entrepreneur—you’re your own boss, and you have your own skill set that you’re sharing with others in exchange for money and/or experience. Entrepreneurs are urged to invest in themselves, and you should too!
Skillshare is a super-affordable way to learn new creative skills, or strengthen your current ones. For a small monthly fee, you get full-access to classes like ‘Introduction to HTML’, and ‘the Golden Secrets to Hand Lettering’. There are also tons of books as well that you could bite into for some help like PR Couture’s very own ‘Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide To Breaking Into Fashion PR’, or Tara Gentile’s ‘Quiet Power Strategy’ to help keep the creative juices flowing.
Want something to feed off on for free? I’m a total podcast junky! Tons of well-known experts have their own podcasts, and interview other industry pros that are constantly dishing out tips and tricks we could all use. I get some of my best ideas and business hacks from podcasts. Smart Creative Women with Monica Lee, She Percolates, and Soulful PR Podcast with Janet Murray are just a few incredible podcasts to add to your queue. I love having them on in the background while I catch up on my emails in the morning.
5. Know your end game
Working two jobs at full throttle is only sustainable in the short term. Have an action plan with a clear outcome in place. Is your goal to eventually turn your after-hours work into full-time income? What numbers either financial or in terms of clients/projects do you need to hit to make that realistic. If you plan on staying full-time and only taking on extra projects when you feel like it – how can you best support yourself during the busy times – and take advantage of project-free months. Having a clear vision and outcome will help you keep your bearings when the going gets especially tough.