How to Balance Your Freelance Career With a Full-Time Job

Let’s face it. Living the life of a corporate cog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But the thought of trying to escape into the world of freelancing can be daunting. Building a successful freelance career is time-consuming and requires a lot of work and organization.

I’ve been able to earn some considerable income in my first year since I began freelancing, but there’s still a long way to go. Fortunately for you and me, there are a number of people out there who have succeeded, so you can too. Here’s how they did it.

You’ll Never Have the Time. You Have to Make It

When PT started blogging, it was just as a side hobby to keep him feeling challenged. But over the next few years, he saw that it was creating real value for his readers as well as his family.

When he wrote about his experience making money from blogging, he shared what it was like to deal with the time aspect:

“Since I’ve had a full-time job these past 3 years, I’ve primarily been writing and working on the blog from 8 pm to midnight (sometimes 3 am). This allows me time to spend with the family each evening, but still, spend a significant amount of time each night on the blog. This explains why I can’t tell you what happened on any TV shows last night or meet you out at the movies.”

There’s always going to be some way to fill your time. Think about it on a scale good/better/best. What’s the best use of your time in the long term?

If you’re serious about creating this opportunity for yourself, it needs to become a priority. Of course, just because it’s a priority doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Holly at Club Thrifty, who quit her job just 11 months after starting her blog and freelancing career adds:

“Make sure you are making good use of your time. When you are trying to build a freelance career and work full-time, something has to give. That could mean giving up TV for a while or certain activities in order to find time for your freelance work. If you are having trouble finding the time to invest in your side business, consider getting up real early. There were times when I would get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to get a few hours of work done before heading to my 9-5 job.”

Live and Die by Your Schedule

Now that you’re squeezing in more work than you feel you can handle, it’s time to create a routine.

Whether you’re hustling in the morning, in the evening or both, it needs to be structured or you’ll end up looking back and asking yourself where all your time is going.

LaTisha, who recently left her full-time job to build her business, Young Finances, says that a little planning can make it easier to keep distractions out:

“To keep everything balanced, I prepped meals on Sunday. Anything I was going to eat for the week, lunch, dinners I either cooked or pulled the ingredients together on Sunday. That gave me more time after work for blogging. I also squeezed in exercise by waking up earlier. I really had to maximize my time so I could get more done. It definitely paid off and I have the ability to do the work that I love on a full-time basis now.”

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, who is earning close to $15k a month in her full-time freelancing career, adds:

“Always schedule in downtime. No matter how busy you are, it’s always wise to set at least a few hours aside for yourself. It will keep you sane, and it can also help rejuvenate you and keep you motivated. Working non-stop is not healthy.”

I’ve experienced the importance of this myself when I was trying to cover overtime at work and increasing my client base. As disappointing as it was to my boss, I had to cancel some overtime because I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. Your work is only as good as you are, so take care of yourself.

Minimize Distractions

I don’t know if you’re like me, but sometimes I feel like my mind is a seven-lane highway. There are always a million different things going on–ideas, deadlines, other obligations, or maybe what’s going down in the news that day. But if you want to maximize what little time you have, you’re going to have to do everything in your power to create an atmosphere where you can minimize those distractions.

Melanie from Dear Debt, who also just recently dropped her full-time job and is enjoying the other side of the fence, offers her thoughts:

“Use a timer when you work. It can be easy to get distracted, but when you are juggling a full-time job and a freelancing career, you have no time to waste. Think about how long a task should take and set a timer. And put everything on your calendar: deadlines, personal appointments, EVERYTHING.”

This also means learning to say no to other things and enjoying a low-information diet when it comes to things going on in the rest of the world. Remember the good/better/best scale. What’s going to create the most value for you in the long term?

Patience is a Virtue

In all of this, it’s important to have patience. This is going to take a lot of work over a prolonged period of time. Some, like Holly, were able to ramp things up pretty quickly, but that won’t happen to everyone.

Sam Dogen, the Financial Samurai, recommends in his article about quitting your day job to become a full-time blogger, that in order to help you reconcile with this idea, “commit to thinking that you’ll make NO meaningful income for the first three years. If you can commit to this high probability, that means you truly love the field.”

There are going to be times of frustration. There are even going to be times when you want to give it up and go back to enjoying a more simple life.

I’m sure that most people who start down this path end up quitting. But your dreams are worth more than that, and the last thing you want is to spend the rest of your corporate life regretting your decision to stay.


Building a freelance career can be a stressful venture. Adding in a full-time job and the rest of your life into that mix can make it all-consuming. Over the past year as I’ve worked to build my blog and freelancing career, I’ve experienced the joys and the pains of juggling everything.

But in the end, autonomy, flexibility, and freedom are worth it. If you don’t believe me, ask any of these experts personally and they’ll tell you all about it.

About Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a long-time travel and money writer. His work has been featured in Nerd Wallet and USA Today.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Rob @ MoneyNomad says

    I went from freelance writing to a full time job, and am now playing with the idea of going back. It’s not easy to balance the two – and organizing your schedule is certainly the key. If you are able to put in a full days work, and then spend several hours in the evenings improving your own blog, I believe that it’s very possible to get your site up and running successfully.

    I’ve got the confidence and commitment – now I suppose patience is the final challenge!

    Thanks for the article Ben – I look forward to reading more of your work.

  2. The Lion's Shares says

    This is so inspiring! Journeying into freelance has been a tough transition, but its also really rewarding. I think focus is key, and setting goals is the best way to stay focused.

    • Jennifer Powell says

      Agree with you. It is never easy to get started with freelancing career. Sometimes it can take more than 6-7 months to earn your first buck. 85% of people who wants to become a freelancer, gets frustrated very soon.

  3. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says

    Great post Ben. I start rehearsals for a show next Monday which will be the first time I have a full freelance load and a full time job. I’m really curious to see how I’ll be able to manage it all. I almost feel like having more limited time will help as it will force me to focus, as opposed to now where I get ridiculously distracted until it’s deadline time.

    • I’ll tell you it definitely helps to keep me focused when every day is crunch time. It does sometimes produce some crazy stress, though!

  4. Great tips! I agree that there will be no meaningful income for the first few years, that’s why it’s good to grow your business as a side hustle first then decide when its time to cut the cord, so to speak.

  5. Melanie @ Dear Debt says

    Awesome roundup of tips, Ben! Being freelance is hard work, but so worth it!