The Pros and Cons of Moonlighting as a Freelancer

By Elizabeth Wellington, Contributor, on April 5, 2017

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Moonlighting as a freelancer is a great way to build your portfolio while maintaining a steady income. But when it hits 5 p.m. in the office, you have even more (not less) to do once you get home. As your freelance work begins to take off, it may feel like you have two jobs rather than one.

There are significant pros and cons of moonlighting as a freelancer. To make the best decision for the long run, you need to identify your specific goal for taking on extra work on the side. Without identifying your primary intention, it’s easy to get swept up in the demands of both responsibilities and burn out.

Pros of Moonlighting as a Freelancer

There are so many reasons why people want to take on extra work as a freelancer. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of working for yourself — you want to build up your side gig, so one day, you can go full time. Maybe you want the extra income, or have a passion project that gives you so much joy you can’t help doing it all the time.

On top of extra income and the opportunity to pursue a passion project, moonlighting as a freelancer can also bulk up your professional reputation. Whether in your field or outside of it, extra projects build meaningful relationships within the business community and position you as an ambitious go-getter.

Cons of Moonlighting as a Freelancer

It’s not all bonus income and improved skill sets. The extra work can be a burden on your professional life. Without an opportunity to “turn off,” you may feel quickly overwhelmed. An extended period of nonstop work can have negative consequences for your day job. Plus, it can make work-life balance a challenge, leading to strained relationships or a sense of imbalance. The secret to increased productivity is taking time off.

How to Make the Right Call

The right answer isn’t the same for everyone. If you solely want to make extra money, for example, you can pour your time into the most lucrative projects. If you want to build a strong presence in the industry, you’d benefit more from networking and relationship building.

Once you identify your long-term goal(s), make sure every freelancing project you take on pushes you toward that direction. By prioritizing your time, energy and resources, you can leverage the benefits of freelancing while staying balanced and avoiding burnout.

Ultimately, the pros and cons of moonlighting as a freelancer depend on the productivity boundaries you create around your work. When part-time freelancers only pursue strategic opportunities aligning with their goals — and set limits on this extra work — they can successfully build a side business that contributes to their professional and personal lives.

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