Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Balancing Freelance Writing with a Second, Full-Time Career

Posted on March 15, 2015 by Kate C

Desk3In today’s economy, few writers support themselves completely with their writing. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics page, “Writers and Authors“, most freelance writers, whether they’re writing a press release or crafting online content, “usually work part time.” That means if we want to pay the bills, most of us must take a second, full-time job.

If you’re one of the thousands of writers out there avoiding starving-artist syndrome by working more than one job, here are some tips that can help you strike a balance between the two.

  • Make yourself a time-management Nazi – Time is not your friend when you’re trying to balance two different careers, but there are ways to keep it from becoming your enemy. Keep careful track of your two different schedules. Hang a one-week blank calendar in clear view of your desk to track writing deadlines. Use a timer if you tend to get lost in your writing but know you must stop soon and get ready for work. Track how long it takes you to shepherd a project from idea to draft to final edit. This will help you make realistic decisions about how much writing you can successfully take on.
  • Multitask – Some jobs mesh perfectly with freelance writing. If you’re a surgeon or in charge of the welfare of children, of course, you must pay attention at all times. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a job with periods of free time, use them for your writing. Are you waiting for a meeting to start? Sketch an outline for the article you’re working on. Have some free time between those customer-service calls? Work out the kinks in your latest piece’s concluding paragraph.
  • Never underestimate the power of the mind – If you have writing projects in the works, read through your assignments before you head off to work. Even if you don’t actively think about them, your subconscious mind will. When you next have time to write, you may find that your piece comes together easily. That tricky introduction may have smoothed itself out; that illusive angle now seems clear. By letting your mind work on your projects while you’re working on something else, the writing will be much easier.
  • Keep a notebook handy – Once you’ve perused your instructions, ideas may pop into your head throughout the day. Keep track of them. If just the right transition sentence comes to mind, write it down. If you think of a good way to structure an article, jot that down, as well. Research sources? An interesting query? These things will likely come to you throughout the day while you work. With a notebook at hand, you won’t lose track of these great ideas.
  • Showcase your expertise – Many clients looking for high-quality content want that content written by someone “in the know.” They want teachers to write their education articles and plumbers to give their home-repair advice. Let potential clients know you have a second job. It positions you as an industry insider.

While managing two jobs comes with challenges, if you find ways to combine them, you’ll maximize your effort and minimize your stress.

Kate C balances work as a writer, a small-scale urban farmer and a teacher. She shares her home with her husband of 27 years and a fat, sassy Boston terrier named Tess.


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