Side-hustling, moonlighting job, or part-time freelancing — research into these topics indicates one thing: You want to supplement your main income.
That’s a natural instinct in the ‘permacrisis’ era we’re all living through. Case in point: 58% of full-time US workers are considering a “side hustle” this year, while 30% are sizing up a career change.
That said, having one job is tough. Balancing several gigs adds a whole new dimension of complexities. Project management, client acquisition, extra admin — you have to plan for the “extras” of freelancing.
So how do you dab into part-time freelancing without stretching yourself too thin? This guide breaks down the gist of how to make it all look easy.
The short answer is yes. Inflation, the market slow-down, ongoing job cuts — the media paints a bleak economic picture. But matters aren’t that bad at all in the freelance economy. On the contrary: It keeps growing bigger and bolder.
Back in 2020, the European freelancing market value stood at a hefty €355 billion, with half of that money generated by digital freelancers, offering marketing, tech, design, and other knowledge services. Freelancers also contributed $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2021.
A (very approximate) estimate puts the global total addressable market for freelance services in 2023 at over $2 trillion. That’s a lot of money up for grabs, right?
The aforementioned job cuts also translate to higher reliance on the external workforce — aka freelancers and independent contractors. As Lindsey Cameron, an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania summed it up best:
“There will be more jobs available for freelancers because, during a recession, one of the first things companies do is cut their overall labor costs. They’ll transition from workers being employees to having more independent contractor spots.”
At the same time, a new study from Oxford University also says that the demand for some jobs isn’t vanishing. On the contrary: it picks up speed after a pandemic-prompted slump as the chart below indicates.
Source: The Oxford University
If you're eager to give part-time freelancing a go, the timing is as good as it gets. This year, a whopping 73% of workers plan to start or continue freelancing, Fiverr found. And you can be among them!
Freelancing has a minimal entry barrier. All you need is a marketable skill set plus your first gig. Sure, you’ll have to put in some work to determine the first — and secure the second.
Let’s move one step at a time.
Here’s how to start freelancing part-time:
Now let’s zoom in on each one!
Your availability will depend on two things:
While the employment terms are (mostly) beyond your control, your time is. So learn to use it wisely.
Part-time freelancing means that you’ll have to find those extra hours in a day for client work. A Zapier survey found that the majority (44%) work on a side hustle for about 13.4 hours per week.
You can find those extra hours by:
Of course, many people sometimes sneak freelancing in between main work tasks…but that’s not always a good idea.
At this point, you need to map a preliminary freelance work schedule — aka block and color-code some hours in your calendar for the side-work. Treat these as potential “client spots”.
At the next stage, we’ll figure out how to best fill them in.
Unlike the classic 9-to-5 job, freelancing is more about selling one specific skill set, rather than a “full package” of primary and secondary hard skills + soft skills.
Most freelance clients don’t care about your education, “cultural fit”, or marvelous expertise at attending group meetings. They wonder if you can get a specific job done: Make a logo, translate a document, write a blog post, etc.
So think about several specific tasks you could do. A good freelance service is:
…And is in demand of course.
Per the 2023 Upwork report, the top in-demand freelance skills were sales and business development (54%), data entry (47%), accounting (45%), and 3D animation (44%).
Pssst…need extra pointers? Check out this post about the most in-demand freelance skills and services (with fresh data on market rates!).
But let’s break these down further.
Accounting, for example, is a wide field. You can just market yourself as a “freelance accountant”. But this would attract a lot of different gigs — from bookkeeping requests by mom & pop shops to audit requests from Fortune 500 companies.
Do all of these suit you as a part-time freelance accountant? Unlikely. So think about how you can package your core skill (accounting) into a specific service such as:
These are scoped services, which can be done remotely, and are well-paid (since there’s a clear target audience for them). That’s what you should go for.
You have an idea of what you can sell. Now you need to figure out the “how” part. Even though you have limited time, your clients should still get an amazing experience.
The art of client freelance management isn’t that mysterious. You just need to be disciplined and proactively manage client expectations.
To accomplish the above, you need to:
Remember: as a freelancer (even a part-time one), you are in charge of your work process, not your clients. Don’t let them impose collaboration terms or workflows that don’t work for you.
Finally, to run a lean (and well-paid) side hustle, consider productizing your service offering. A productized service is a well-scoped, replicable service you can deliver for a fixed price within a fixed time range.
The goal of a productized service is to make the service more attractive to the client (i.e. you get X for Y dollars) while streamlining its delivery.
Examples of productized services include:
Productized services are easy to stack in your work calendar, plus they lead to predictable income. And if you ever decide to go full-time, scaling up your operations would be breezy!
The first order of business is figuring out how you’ll get paid as a freelancer.
For that, you’ll need:
As long as you operate as a sole trader (an unincorporated freelancer), you’re not legally obliged to have a business bank account in most countries. (Disclaimer: Do check your local requirements though!).
But separating personal and business money is a budgeting best practice. This way, you avoid mixing personal and business expenses, plus won’t struggle as much with account reconciliation during tax time.
Account-to-account bank payments are a standard for most clients. As an extra option, you can also set up an account with PayPal or Stripe to process card payments.
In every case, however, you’ll have to create an invoice for your clients.
A freelancer invoice includes:
Taxes include VAT in the EU/UK and sales tax in the US and other places.
You can create freelance invoices manually with a template or using an app like Xolo Go, which is actually more than just an invoice generator.
With Xolo Go, you get a “slice” of our European limited liability company — and all the indemnity protections that come with it. Using Xolo Go, you can legally invoice companies in 186 jurisdictions without stressing much about the local tax or compliance regulations.
We also hook you up with a business bank account number to receive client payments as a bank transfer or process card payments. Also, you get some neat analytics to monitor your income and spending trends.
Whenever you want to schedule a payday, we’ll quickly transfer all the earned funds to your personal bank account.
How much to charge for freelance service is a question that stumps even experienced freelancers. The market is big — and prices vary a lot.
While you can (and should!) browse the going freelance rates for your niche and levels of expertise, you don’t have to charge what everyone else is charging.
The easiest way to figure out your pricing as a part-time freelancer is to do a quick backward calculation:
This approach to price-setting isn’t perfect. But it gives you a starting point where you feel good about what you earn. That’s important because part-time freelancing means less free time. So the money must really make it worth it for you!
If you want a deeper take on pricing, read more about how to calculate freelance rates.
To rephrase Brad Pitt, “The first rule of the Fight Freelance Club is you do not call yourself an aspiring freelancer”.
Seriously, drop the label. If you’re pitching your services to people on the Internet, you’re not an “aspiring freelancer”, you are one!
The second rule of the freelance club: You should not be shy about using every opportunity available to land those first precious gig(s):
It may take a while (or not) to land your first client. Be persistent and keep going until you hear that first sweet “Yes, let’s sign the contract!”.
Discover more advanced strategies in the downloadable “Ultimate Guide to Finding Freelance Clients”, which shares the exact tips I’ve been using to fill up my client list over the past 8+ years.
Still need some pointers, here’s a somewhat subjective list of the best part-time freelancing jobs. In no particular order:
You can always find fresh freelance opportunities for these on platforms like Bou, WorkingNotWorking, YunoJuno, or Workana. Or you can browse popular freelance job boards like Creatively, RemoteOK, or Creativepool.
Xolo shares even more awesome places to find clients in our jumbo-sized list of freelancer resources. So go check it next!
It’s been a minute. You’ve got repeat clients and your work schedule’s been full for some time. New inquiries keep coming — and the money you’re pulling is good. All of these are strong signs to consider transitioning to full-time freelancing.
If that’s your ultimate goal, put some extra scaffolding in place before you pull the plug on your full-time job. Create new monthly income estimates to understand how much extra work you’ll need to earn an equivalent of your full-time salary.
Remember to factor in the extra freelance expenses such as self-employment taxes, social contributions, insurance, and misc business admin costs.
(Hint: Xolo Go makes income and expense management a breeze. Try it!).
Then start chatting up your clients. Are they willing to assign you more work? Follow up with the opportunities you’ve rejected earlier and reach out to new prospects (you know where to find ‘'em!) to book more work for the next couple of months.
You’re already on the freelance path — you just need to speed things up a bit to go full speed!
Elena Prokopets writes content for tech-led companies & software development businesses, marketing to them. Her empathy for the customer, expertise in SEO, and knack for storytelling help create content that ranks well and drives industry conversations.
Elena uses Xolo Leap so she can focus on her solo B2B content writing business without stressing over the compliance and admin overhead.
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