By Jonathan London on 21st May 2015

Can I freelance part-time with a full-time job?

In short, yes you (probably) can.

Being a full-time employee and part-time freelancer is a practical option for those dipping their toes into the freelancing water. It’s also a good opportunity to make some extra money, be more creative with your work, or boost the skills on your CV. Although at first you’ll be working around the clock, it’s usually only a temporary measure; many freelancers make the transition to freelancing full-time once they’ve built up a good client base. With a steady income rolling in from paid employment this is a relatively safe route to becoming a fully-fledged freelancer, but beware – it requires a lot of hard work and the ability to stay away from the latest releases on Netflix, or other forms of procrastination.

Check your contract

Whatever the area you want to freelance in, it’s worth checking your current employment contract – your employer might not be too happy if they discover a conflict of interest in your moonlighting activities. It could be that picking up some side work is prohibited by your company; some contracts have clauses which stipulate against working elsewhere during your employment (regardless of how different the client or project may be). Even if on paper it looks as though your employer wouldn’t mind you freelancing in your spare time, a friendly chat with the boss helps to avoid any awkward questions when they Google your name and your freelancing portfolio appears.

Make time for freelancing

If your full-time job is the traditional 9-5 it can be difficult to fit in freelance pitches, phone calls and meetings during working hours. Unless you freelance in an industry where your clients will happily take business phone calls at 9pm, the majority of your early business development will predominantly be via email and quick phone calls during your lunch break. Most people tend to allocate their evenings and weekends to freelancing with the occasional day off for meetings (or to rediscover their social life). However, if your chosen sideline requires a lot of face-to-face interaction with your clients it might be worth reconsidering how you structure your working hours. Requesting flexible working hours from your employer is one way of ensuring you have space in your diary to meet the needs of your clients.

Pay your taxes

It’s important to keep on top of your income and expenditure to ensure you don’t get a nasty surprise in the form of a higher-than-expected tax bill.

Whether you work as a sole trader paying income tax and national insurance, or operate as a Limited Company with Corporation Tax, VAT and tax on dividends, working out how to pay the right tax at the right time can be a minefield. Getting an accountant to manage your finances and complete your tax returns will prevent numerous sleepless nights before the payment deadline, and frees up time to earn more doing the work you love. They could even end up saving you some money; it’s a win-win situation.

It’s hard, but you benefit from the best of both worlds

As a freelancer, you have the freedom to choose the projects you pitch for and work on and generally have more creative control over the work you do. You might even find that freelancing enhances some of the skills you use in your full-time role, and gives you the confidence to push your ideas further. Juggling employment and freelance work will fine-tune your time management skills – giving you a strong advantage if you transfer to freelancing 24/7 – and you’ll discover an ability to multi-task like never before.

Another important advantage in maintaining a full-time job is during mortgage applications. Freelancers often dread conversations about mortgages, as getting a mortgage as a freelancer can be notoriously difficult, so staying in employment can help keep your mortgage lender happy and makes it much more likely for your application to be accepted.

Staying employed also means that you still get the perks of your job, whether it’s free private healthcare, a growing pension pot, or the free fruit bowl and fish ‘n’ chip Fridays. However you may find once you freelance full time, being able to work in your slippers outweighs all of these put together.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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