Going part time freelance...is it worthwhile?

I’m currently in a permanent job…looking for another permanent job. However I’m considering reducing may days a week at my current place to allow me to do some freelance work.

Does doing 1/2 days a week freelance actually work? Would consultancies be interested in having a part time freelancer in? Has anyone else every done this before?

Will you not be cheating (breaking?opposite of obeying!) your current contract by doing freelance work? Most contracts ask for all work during your term at a company/consult/whatever to be dedicated to company, i.e. no freelance work as there may be conflict of interest and so on.

Will you not be cheating (breaking?opposite of obeying!) your current contract by doing freelance work? Most contracts ask for all work during your term at a company/consult/whatever to be dedicated to company, i.e. no freelance work as there may be conflict of interest and so on.

not true.

unless stated in your contract, you can do freelance work on the side, at home, etc. when you’re not on the company clock, they don’t own your time. that being said, it would be back-stabbing if you were to work on a project/product(s) that compete with either gig, especially your full-time spot. if you design race motorcycles full time, you can’t be designing race motorcycles freelance, but you could, perhaps, maybe, design a scooter. each situation is unique, but think about what if your employer discovered the details of your project - would they be upset/fire you/consider it a betrayal?

I know two designers who currently work 3-4 nine hour days a week, and keep the other open day or two for freelancing. many other designers just work freelance after work hours in the evenings.

Will you not be cheating (breaking?opposite of obeying!) your current contract by doing freelance work? Most contracts ask for all work during your term at a company/consult/whatever to be dedicated to company, i.e. no freelance work as there may be conflict of interest and so on.

I haven’t got as far as that…but sure I couldn’t work on any digital intermediate products which would conflict with my ‘main’ job…there isn’t that many ‘digital intermediate’ products out there anywho…that’s why I’m after a new job.

Don’t most freelancers have a several of projects going a time?

As long as you let everyone you’re dealing with know what your status is. Sometimes when you freelance, places may want you to work inhouse with them for the convenience. That’s good for them but may not be so good for you because then you lose a big plus of freelancing which is being able to manage your time and take on multiple projects.
As long as you’re organized and know how to keep your schedule, you can have multiple projects, no different than if you were working inhouse for someone else. You just have to be your own manager and know how to manage your time wisely without overextending yourself or missing deadlines, etc.

As far as half days, personally I’d rather do 2 or 3 full days with the inhouse place, then have the other days completely free. Another benefit you have freelancing is that if you don’t have to go in, you save hours not having to commute. If you do half days, you lose that commute time that you can use as extra hours for freelance. Depending on where you live, that can add up to a lot in a month. A one hour commute to work equals a full work week lost every month being on the road.
So in your situation, if (instead of half days) you do a full 3 days inhouse, then the other 2 whole days freelance from home, you get an extra 16 hours per month (2 work days) for design, administration, planning, etc…

Mmmm… interesting. I was talking to a patent lawyer last year however who said that no matter what work you do in your own time, it belongs to the company you’re contracted to, whether in your own time or not - Which I obviously thought was absolutely ridiculous.

Sorry, my input has put things off course! My apologies!

how ever many projects you can keep up with, delivery quality work to, without compromising your quality of life or interfering with other projects (eg; if you stay up all night working on two freelance gigs, you’re not going to be delivering 100% at the ‘main job’)
also, if I were a parent, I wouldn’t be quick to pick up a handful of projects and neglect my children (or wife, or girlfriend, etc).

you’ve got to find a balance where each category works out to 100%, but that’s life

I think you could surely pick up an ID freelance gig designing products of nearly any sort without having a conflict of interest. be sure to check your contract, some actually won’t let you work on anything, but 95% will allow it. there is usually a phrase in there that states that another facet of your life cannot interfere with you delivering 100% quality at your position, so you can’t blame your sleepiness on freelance, and if you do, quit the freelance.

good luck to you- make the jump

Certainly somthing to think about/check.

It does depend on the contract…I would imagine the bigger company’s would put more constraints on their contracts. Dyson wouldn’t allow freelance and if you came up with a patentable innovation you had to offer Dyson first dibs on it.

Every FT job I ever had said ‘No freelance’, a graphic designer I knew at the Pentland Group was sacked for freelancing. Moonlighting does go on, but in the footwear trade it could be risky as its so smal, everyone knows everyone else.
As for doing a couple of days a week - I don’t really do jobs like that - its more like two full weeks here, then two full weeks there.
Booking a job with me is like booking production space,I don’t really like too much overlap - I have ongoing admin for project that are in development which takes me a few hours every mornin,but then the project work I do is booked as blocks.

Most consultancies I know use freelancers to get jobs out the door when overloaded with work, which makes it difficult if you can only commit to a fixed number of days a week.

As shoenista says it’s more about block periods of work, often a little notice.

It is Ok to moonlight if you have the time and energy. I just think it can get compicated or difficult to sustain as a lot of freelance jobs in my experience were last minute calls from other consultancies or in-house groups that were overloaded and needed a fire put out. They usually call me at the drop of a hat and expect me to get stuff done in a hot rush. It is hard to make any plans and the pressure and often the extra grief to collect payment can make it unpleasant.

Take a deposit if you can. Several times in my younger years I took on rush gigs where they wanted me to do the work immediatly then when the fire was put out and they got what they wanted done, they took their sweet time paying me or not at all…I spent much mor time chasing payment than doing the actual design. It’s a lot of grief.

Don’t ever compromise contracts or be apologetic about getting some monetary assurances upfront. Some will try to have you put that off. If they are on the up and up they would be OK with a deposit, a PO, contracts. It’s those who plan to cheat you that won’t go for giving you some upfront cash or assurances.

Remember, if someone wants you to do or make decisions and don’t want to give you the time to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” then they’re most likely rotten… Much like a used car salesman not wanting to give you time to think about it or kick the tires. Almost nothing is ever that hot of a rush and usually nothing can’t wait another day. You should not be the one carrying the burden for their poor planning or impossible schedule. It is not out of the question to charge half more or double for hot rush freelance gigs.

read your contracts first. even the finest, smallest print.

in my case, i’ve only worked for one company that claimed that it owned all my ideas and work inside and outside my regular hours. i thought that was unreasonable. i had spoken with a lawyer that dealt with workers, and that you could argue that IF the work you do outside of your regular work does not compete, then you shouldn’t have a problem, ie, if you’re designing couches for one company, and mp3 players for another, it shouldn’t even be an issue. unless, of course, you are working for an agency that designs everything.

in the creative industry, i believe it’s necessary to be stimulated and inspired. if it means you have to do other jobs in order to not be burnt out, i say go for it. just make sure that you’re not screwed by your employer by them giving you contracts that don’t allow you to move around.

i think that a lot of designers freelance anyway, regardless if they can do it or not. Personally, I’ve done it for about a year. i worked part time as a creative director for a toy company. i needed a more creative outlet because all i did was manage people and tell them what to do. so i told the VP of design that i wanted a flexible schedule to which he obliged. i freelanced (from home) for a lot of bigger corporations designing infant items, things that obviously weren’t toys. it worked out for me. you just need to know how to schedule, be organized, and be VERY VERY VERY persistent when corporations don’t pay you on time. BIG emphasis on the latter.


And good luck! You can do it!

I think I’m in a similar position to you: I am the only ID’er in a really small company and have been looking for a new full time job for a bit now. I recently moved from 5 to 4 days a week to concentrate on some of my other work and to save the company I work for some money (it’s that tight!).
Since I did this I’ve found it harder to focus on my main job as other exciting projects and work start cropping up. Newer, shorter projects are always more exciting than the one you’re still working on after 6 months of hard slog in your main. I have tended to enjoy working on these more.

I’d say it is worth thinking about whether you would actually prefer to be a full time freelancer than try and do both at once.

yeah it can be hard to manage. My girlfriend, who is a furniture designer does the part time freelance thing along with desiging her own furniture…she can get a bit stressed at time.

I’m also in a similar position working full time doing shoes for a large sports company and freelancing for fashion companies in my spare time…

…I’d like to become full time freelance at some point in the future but don’t know how I could guarantee to keep a steady amount of work coming in.

…just one question to the full time freelancers, what are the best ways to keep the work coming in when you freelance full time? Just connections or do you have some way of advertising yourself to companies?

You can’t guarantee it, that’s the risk. Feast or famine as some say. The best thing you can do is to do good work, constantly network and stay on good terms with everyone. Then push yourself so that you get so much work that you have to turn work down. That or working out a retainer type of deal with a few places will be the closest you can get to guaranteed steady work. But in general, it’s up to you, that’s where the risk is. Finding time to find work and also do it can be troublesome sometimes. Good luck.

Ideally, you need one freelance role that pays the bills and your overheads - depending on your outgoings you’ll need to be working for that client 3-4 months of the year. Then anything else is a bonus. Always save money for tax. Always keep your overheads as low as possible. The most difficult thing with any fashion freelance is the seasonality of it. I’ve just come through two months of absolute bonkersness hellish work - twelve hour days, seven day weeks…

Figure out what you will do if you have a dry period, because it will happen. It’s worth getting a financial advisor who understands your situation - I recommend Perfect Day - they specialise in financial advice to freelancers, they’ll help you figure ot a budget so you have money stashed away for the quiet bits.

If you can afford it, go to every trade show that you can, and network like crazy.

It is very very hard running a freelance business, I guess I’m fortunate because I had ten years of employment in many different companies before I did this and I have a lot of contacts, but even then, you cannot guarantee they will give you work - some have simply never needed a freelancer, some are in touch every season, some I hear from every two years, you have to respect that. Keep a dialogue going (phone is better than email!) but don’t hassle them for freelance work that they haven’t got!

Some great advice there…thanks guys!