How-To Guide: Freelancing on the Side


You’re so done with your regular job. You can’t picture yourself working for someone else ever!

If you have to sit through one more B.S. meeting or deal with a hovering, sniveling boss for another minute, you’ll probably start shouting your lungs out! 

You’ve been mentally prepared to be your own boss for a long time, and you’re finally seriously considering going freelance. 

But you simply aren’t financially prepared. You can’t happily hand in your resignation if it means you won’t have any money coming in. 

Don’t worry. I’ll show you how to start freelancing on the side while working a full-time job. That way, when the time comes, you’ll be able to walk away with confidence! 

Here are the 9 steps to start freelancing on the side — for now! 

#1 Commit to long hours when freelancing on the side

You already put in long hours at your full-time job. Prepare to put forth more effort. You’re about to have a lot less spare time for the foreseeable future! 

Long hours will be required to start your freelance business. This entails creating your website during your nights, marketing yourself on weekends, and eventually making time to do client work.

It’s not going to be easy to do some freelancing on the side. Some evenings, you’ll undoubtedly want to give in and watch Netflix. But consider why you’re going through with this.

You’re done with your job. You’re desperate to get out. And the key is your fledgling freelance business. 

Keep in mind: Your health and relationships are still important. So, get some rest, take care of yourself, and spend time with your loved ones.

#2 Examine your employment contract

Before you start, take a look at your employment agreement. 

If your employer believes that you’re moonlighting (or freelancing on the side), they may forbid you from doing so. A non-compete clause may also apply to you – especially if your freelancing employment is related to your day job. 

In this case, reach out to a lawyer If you come across something that looks like a restriction. They’ll guide you through the legal talk and explain what it all means in your specific scenario.

If your company is genuinely limiting you, it could be a good idea to look for another job that won’t impede your freelance journey. However, if you’re clear, proceed with the next steps.

#3 Know your financial situation

Before you start freelancing on the side, you’ve got to effectively manage your finances. This entails knowing: 

  • Your basic expenses (think housing, food, utilities, insurance, medicine, minimum debt payments, etc.)
  • How much money do you need to make as a freelancer? (to cover truly necessary expenses)
  • How much money do you want to make as a freelancer? (so you can include fun things and financial goals)
  • How much of a cash cushion do you need as emergency funds? (to cover emergencies and famine months)

Before quitting your job, you should: 

  • Earn enough money from freelance work to replace your corporate pay
  • Have 6 months worth of truly critical costs saved up (more if you have dependents)
  • Set up replacement health insurance and learn how to start a self-employment retirement account (Solo 401k or SEP IRA)

You’re in debt? It doesn’t mean your freelance dreams are over!

#4 Start networking

Freelancing on the side requires C.O.N.S.T.A.N.T. networking.

The expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds a lot of truth. While inept freelancers will sink themselves by doing terrible work, you might sink yourself by not meeting new people on a regular basis. 

You never know who might become a client, mentor, business partner, service provider, or even a new friend. As a result, you must constantly develop and nurture bonds. 

Networking can be done online through social media, forums, and other digital platforms. Face-to-face events, such as happy hours or conferences, can help you get a large number of new connections in a short amount of time. 

Whatever method you use, as long as you reach out to new people on a regular basis, you’re on the right path. 

#5 Promote yourself

People won’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist!

That means you must continually put yourself out there in order for people to know you. There are numerous low-cost and no-cost options.

Here are some of the most important things to address: 

When putting yourself out there, add value to your audience while also promoting your services. You must do both. People will grow to trust your knowledge if you share valuable insights. They’ll feel that you actually care about them rather than just make money if you’re of genuine help to them.

That genuine bond is invaluable. 

#6 Create a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your work samples and testimonials that have been carefully crafted to convince them to hire you. Initially, your portfolio may simply consist of your own blog or schoolwork. 

That’s totally fine; everyone has to start somewhere! 

Your initial portfolio-building strategy will vary depending on the service you intend to provide. 

Here are some examples

For freelancer writers: You might produce strategic guest blog posts for larger websites. No, you’re not going to get compensated. However, your work will be seen by more people. And now you may say you’ve been published outside of your own website!

For graphic designers: You might offer to develop a logo or a landing page for a business. Then, place it prominently in your portfolio.

For Virtual Assistants (VA): You may complete a modest project for another business owner in exchange for a testimonial. 

Reach out to people with whom you’ve built a rapport to land these initial opportunities. Even if they benefit from the agreement, they’ll be more inclined to consent to it if they know and like you.

A word on working for free

It’s fine to do a small amount of free freelance work to get your portfolio off to a good start. But please keep in mind that your time is valuable. Your skills matter. And you’re entitled to be reimbursed.

7. Offer your services

People know, like, and trust you as a result of all of your networking efforts. That’s fantastic! 

However, they may be unaware that you’re available for hire.

That is why you must offer your services in a simple and clear manner. Publish clear social media posts. Send an email to all of the people on your email marketing list. Send notes or make phone calls to people in your network.

Remember to ask for referrals! Even if a prospective client says no (which could simply mean ‘not right now,’ by the way), they may know someone who will! 

#8 Create a business book

You’ll get your first client if you follow the methods outlined above. And, over time, you’ll amass several of them.

This is a huge turning point for you – momentum is on your side.

It shouldn’t be too long!

#9 It’s about time you quit

When you’ve met the financial targets, you set in step 3, you’re now ready to quit your dang job!

You’re ready, even if it’s a little nerve-racking. There’s no reason to hold on to something that’s no longer useful to you. 

You’re officially a full-time freelancer after your last day on the job. Congratulations, you made it! 

Last Thoughts

You can now joyfully do some freelancing on the side, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel! 

The strategy isn’t complicated; you’ll need to work hard and be patient in order to get results.

You got this — I have complete faith in you!

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Hey there!

I’m Imad, the content creator and online marketing strategist behind The Guemmah Freelance Hub. My mission is to help more freelancers grow themselves, their business, and their profits.

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