This question has been something that has sloshed around in my head for a while now, mainly because I am an avid podcast listener, and it sometimes feels like the main topic of conversation on a lot of creative podcasts is how or when to take your side-hustle full-time.
I thought I would like to try and write a post on this subject, because something that comes up often (at least on the kinds of podcasts I listen to!) is that it has to be one thing or the other: that you must either work in a 9-5 role (which the hosts and guests generally infer is soul-crushing to your creativity) or you should aim to earn enough from your side-gig to walk away from the daily grind.
But this is something I just don’t wholeheartedly buy into.
In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how many of the most well-known writers have held down other jobs before they’ve made it onto the best-seller lists. Sometimes even having several books published has not meant they give up their day-jobs entirely.
In my working life, I have held quite a few different roles, including freelance editorial and writing for a couple of years, and running a small business with my partner for seven years before that. I have also worked in several more ‘traditional’ 9-5 style office roles, and now work in an administration role within the NHS part-time, working mornings only.
My current set-up works well for my life right now, as I have time to work on other projects (such as this blog) in the afternoons and weekends, as well as taking on a course of study. But that’s not to say it will always suit my life, and I have always been open and flexible to changing things around when needed.
Positives of the 9-5: Routine, Stability and Benefits
I think that the set-up I have right now works really well for me as I have a part-time salary, pension, stability and routine. This suits my personality, as I am literally lost without a regular daily routine! I begin to procrastinate, then panic about what I’m supposed to be working on and where the next paycheck is coming from. This is a surefire way to crush any creativity I have. I feel that I am much more creative when I don’t feel under pressure to create. That’s not to say I don’t work well with a deadline though. I like to feel motivated by some kind of schedule to work to, such as a journal deadline or blogging schedule.
If you’re thinking of taking your side-hustle, blog, or other freelance work full-time, consider your own personality traits. Think about ways to keep motivated when you are only accountable to yourself, including scheduling in down-time, getting out of the house to work, and avoiding procrastination.
The other thing I found difficult about freelance work was chasing clients for payment. Some were really reliable, but I have to say, many of them were not, leading me to feel I was constantly having to email them in order to get payment on time. I also felt isolated at times, leading me to taking on a voluntary role for the social contact.
I think a lot of online creators have a good social media presence, so this may mitigate the isolation aspect. I have written before about my hesitation to become involved with social media. I did have a decent Twitter account back when I was freelancing, but I found it very stressful. I realise however that social media can be a great tool for freelancers or side-hustlers. I just think I have the wrong personality temperament for it!
Positives of taking a side-hustle full-time
On the other hand, freelancing and steering your own business can be exhilarating! When I was in the flow of securing work and joining slack channels online to collaborate with other editorial staff spread all over the world, I felt an enormous sense of excitement in the work we were creating.
Similarly, building a bricks and mortar business from the ground up with my partner was an enormous achievement, and something which I miss at times now that we both do other jobs. Working together on something that was so integral to us and our family felt very important to us, and we took pride in running the business as ethically as we could. When you’re working for a large company or public institution it can feel like you are just a tiny cog in a large machine. You also often don’t have a lot of say about how things are run, or the tasks you have to incorporate into your role.
Summing it all up…
I think sometimes these well-meaning creative podcasts can give the impression that if you work for yourself doing something you love, then you won’t ever have to have a bad work day or that you can simply cut out all the chaff of a regular job.
That just isn’t the case, in my experience. You still have difficult clients or days when nothing goes right, or those irritating and time-consuming jobs to do, like filing your tax return.
I listen to creative podcasts and watch YouTubers who talk about these ideas because they often inspire me to create more and to work on my blog and writing projects. And that’s a great and positive thing.
I think that my overall point here is this: there are many ways in which to make a living.
Contradictory to some advice you might see online, you can still have a creative business and make a success of it whilst earning a living in a more traditional job role, and you can still get job satisfaction if you choose the right work role for you. You might also reach the point where you’re ready to take your freelancing business or side-hustle full-time, and there are lots of ways you can be successful in this, too.
Whichever route suits you, you should also bear in mind that it might change as your life moves forward and you grow as a person. Different lifestyles at different times in our lives mean we might want or need to work more or less. We might find that we don’t like spending all day every day on a side-hustle; or we might find we can’t get enough of it!
Whichever way you land, the important thing is to try to find the working lifestyle that works for YOU. Then you can go ahead and put all your creative energy into building a life you love! : )
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