Can I Freelance Whilst Working for an Employer?

The very short answer to this question is that yes, in most cases you are allowed to carry out freelance work whilst in employment.

That said, there are a number of circumstances that might mean this isn’t the case, or that there are conditions your employer expects you to adhere to.

 

Why decide to freelance if you’re already working?

Common reasons why some people choose to freelance alongside full-time or part-time employment include:

  • Earning extra money to supplement their salary.
  • Fulfilling a skill or passion that’s a diversion from their regular day job.
  • Using it as an opportunity to learn and practice new skills.
  • Having more creative control or professional autonomy over projects they’re working on.

 

Are you ready to jump straight in?

But why not just take the plunge, and become a full-time freelancer? Well, it’s not for everyone. The decision to freelance alongside employment, rather than instead of it, is often down to factors like:

  • Not yet earning enough through freelance income alone.
  • Not wanting the pressure of drumming up business or relying on clients to pay on-time, as opposed to a regular monthly PAYE salary you don’t have to chase or worry about.
  • Concerns that securing a mortgage or other finance will be made more difficult if freelancing is the sole source of income.
  • Preferring the culture of a shared working environment and ‘office life’ (freelancing can sometimes get a bit lonely).

 
So, for some people, choosing to freelance as a side hustle is the most desirable option. Just as long as it’s manageable, and your employer permits it.

To make things as stress-free as possible, and to keep you out of unnecessary trouble, here are some tips on balancing freelance work and employment.

 

Start by checking your employment contract

Some employers ban their workers from undertaking freelance work entirely. If this is indeed the case, it should be made clear in your employment contract.

So, before you get stuck into any gig work or side projects, make sure you check! You don’t want to breach any rules that might affect your employment status if your boss gets wind of it.

 

Why won’t my employer let me freelance?

An employer might refuse permission to carry out any freelance work for a number of reasons. For instance, if your potential clients would mean you’re going after the same audience.

For you, as a freelancer, it makes perfect sense to seek out additional work in the same industry or marketplace. After all, that’s where your skillset and experience lies. Understandably your employer might be less keen to have another competitor in the arena!

 

Be transparent with your employer by putting them in the picture

If your contract doesn’t contest freelancing then by all means, get stuck in but first, have a conversation with your employer. Not because you’re obliged to, but just because it’s the considerate thing to do.

You never know, your employer might even support your side hustle and be willing to discuss things like flexible working hours to accommodate it.

The best working relationships begin and end with open, honest lines of communication so we always recommend keeping your employer informed.

 

Make your freelance clients aware of your other commitments

On the flip side, as well as keeping your employer in the picture, it’s also a good idea to be honest and transparent with your freelance clients too.

Although it can be tempting to conceal your employment commitments, making your freelance clients aware of your working hours and realistic availability will help manage expectations on both ends. It will also help make sure they’re setting you attainable deadlines and ensure that you don’t end up spread too thinly or completely burnt out.

 

Acknowledge when the balance becomes too biased

One final word of advice before we depart is to stay abreast of how the balance is tipping. You don’t want your work in one area causing you to underperform in another.

You can’t let your freelance work detract from your day job (in time or energy) but if you’re passionate about, and inspired by, your extracurricular projects? Then you shouldn’t let employment completely bulldoze that either.

If you notice a bias starting to develop, it might be decision time. Perhaps you’re ready to take the risk and go full-time freelance. Or alternatively, you might need to scale back your side hustle to improve your wellbeing and health.

If you’re considering freelancing, check out our article for things to consider before you get started, or check out our support hub for becoming self-employed..

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Free Tools for Running a Business Solo

Running a freelance business is no easy feat, and doing it solo can often feel ten times harder. If you’re running your business solo, you need tools which:

  • Save you time.
  • Are easy to learn and use.
  • Make running your business simpler.

We’ve put together some of the best free tools out there to help you manage your business in all areas.

Finance tools to help you run your business

Managing your finances is one of the most important skills you’ll learn as a solopreneur. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us, but these tools should help.

Pandle Cloud Accounting

Pandle’s clean and simple interface makes it ideal for bookkeeping novices and experienced business owners alike. It takes the complexities out of bookkeeping while offering all the features you need from modern bookkeeping software.

Money Dashboard

For an overview of all your different bank accounts, Money Dashboard is an easy way to see all your accounts in one place. It’s great for tracking your spending and setting budgets across business and personal accounts.

Website management tools

If you have your own website or are planning to set one up, don’t overlook these tools.

WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular ways to build a website. It’s fairly simple to use and if you get stuck, there’s an endless amount of support out there. You can either set up a free website with WordPress.com, or you can self-host and buy your own domain with WordPress.org.

Google Keyword Planner

To ensure your website is found by the right people, you need to think about SEO and keywords. A simple way to find good keywords is Google’s Keyword Planner. Simply type in some keyword ideas and you’ll see how often people search for them.

Content tools

As the saying goes, content is king. If you have your own website, content is one of the most important things to concentrate on. It’s what turns interested parties into paying customers.

Grammarly

To ensure your content is correct and reads well, Grammarly can be a big help. It checks your spelling and grammar and is a great tool for catching mistakes such as double spaces or tricky spellings.

Hemingway

Hemingway is another great content tool that checks if your writing is easy for most people to read. This is done using reading levels and is very important for people browsing your site.

Design tools

If you want to make a DIY logo or blog graphics, pairing these tools is a simple way to try your hand at graphic design.

Canva

Canva is great for creating blog graphics, social media graphics, header images or logos. It’s packed full of templates and designs or you can create your own from scratch.

Pixabay

If you can’t take your own photos all day, Pixabay is a great way to get hold of some free stock images. There’s a wide range of free photos on there you can download for your website or social media.

Social media tools

An important part of modern marketing is being on social media. Rather than spending all day on Twitter, these two tools are great for scheduling content.

Buffer

Buffer is a popular, easy-to-use social media scheduling too. You can link up to three accounts on the free plan including Instagram and Pinterest.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a similar tool which lets you set up three accounts on the free plan. It does, however, let you schedule 30 posts at one time, compared to Buffer’s 10.

Project management tools for freelancers

To keep track of all your clients and customers, a good project management tool is a must.

Asana

Asana is an advanced project management tool which allows you to work independently or with a team. You can create calendars, tasks, assign work to yourself and track progress. This is a great way to keep track of all your different clients and tasks in one place.

Trello

For a simpler task management tool, Trello uses a virtual card system. You can create cards with tasks, reminders and due dates to keep track of various projects.

Email marketing resources and platforms

As part of your marketing push or signup process, a good email marketing tool is crucial.

MailChimp

One of the most popular email marketing tools is MailChimp. Use it to set up email campaigns, schedule automated emails and even segment your email list into different groups. This ensures your emails are only sent to relevant recipients, giving your campaign a better chance of success.

MailerLite

MailerLite is another simple email marketing platform that’s worth checking out. It uses a simple drag-and-drop editor so you can build pretty professional-looking emails in minutes.

Which tool is right for you?

These types of tools are important for most businesses, big or small. The ones suggested above all have free versions but there is also a premium plan for each of them as well. Check which features are available on the free plan to ensure they meet all your needs.

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