10 tips for keeping your job if you freelance on the side
Can you do your side hustle, still hold down your full-time position and avoid pissing off the people who pay your paycheck? Here are ten tips that will help you take home more cash, while still keeping your boss happy and building a stronger foundation for your career:
1. Check your Employment contract
Nobody likes sifting through the small print, but this is job #1 when you’re getting ready to start freelancing. The reason is that some companies include non-compete clauses, which might limit or prevent you from doing the same work outside the company or for the same clients. And, if what you’re doing isn’t allowed, you’re at risk of being fired or even sued. So, read those employment agreements carefully, and then stay on the right side of the law.
2. Is there a Direct Conflict of Interest?
Larger companies will have a conflict of interest assessment that employees can undertake before (or after) you undertake any endeavour. Getting a freelance contract with one of your companies current clients or consultants is a direct conflict of interest. There are assessments available that help you figure out before-hand if your freelance work or project represents that. Remember, the freelance work is one thing but also any assets or income and sources may be called into question as well. If you’re in a political field – this is even more important.
3. Come Clean
As tempted as you might be to believe that your employer will never know about your side gig, it’s neither realistic nor wise. With social media, Google searches, and just knowing people in the same industry, someone from your company is more than likely to stumble across what you’re doing outside of work. And even if freelancing is technically allowed by your company, in most cases it’s still a good idea to give your boss a heads up. So, set up a meeting to present the idea, making it clear that you won’t let it affect the job you’re being paid for.
4. Reveal The Nature of Your Freelance Work
Of course you don’t have to (and probably really shouldn’t) go into details about your clients, the size of the projects, what you’re earning and so on. But you may have to (because of your contract) let your boss know about what area your freelancing work will be in.
This will often clear up any doubts of conflicts of interest. For example, if you’re planning to freelance as a copywriter and you work as a customer service rep, you’ll probably be in the clear. Or, if you are planning to do the same work freelancing as you do in your regular job, your company might allow it as long as you work for different clients and agree not to approach ones that the company had first. Either way, being honest about the type of work you are (and aren’t) doing will help ease your boss’ fears.
5. Re-Emphasize Your Commitment to your Job – Be Loyal to your Employer
Every Employer wants to know that you are still 100% committed the job and to your role in supporting senior management. Loyalty among employees is always important. The law in Canada requires an employee to be loyal towards his employer. This means that an employee must be honest with his employer while he works for him, use good judgment in his role as an employee, put the interests of his employer above his own to protect confidential information. The duty of loyalty is based on the idea that an employer should be able to trust an employee both at work and outside the workplace.
An employee must respect his duty of loyalty regardless of the industry he works in or position he has. However, if an employee has heavy responsibilities within a company, such as a management position, his duty to be loyal may be greater.
Here are some of the types of behaviour that are considered disloyal to your employer:
lying or being dishonest with your employer
stealing from your employer
putting what is best for you before what is best for your employer (also called “being in a conflict of interest”)
misusing confidential information for your own benefit or to benefit others
intentionally damaging your employer’s reputation or harming his business
spreading false information about your employer
6. Emphasize the benefits freelancing will bring to your Employer
Beyond just getting the green light, consider showing how you freelancing will actually be a benefit for your boss, your colleagues, and the whole organization. After all, the fact that you’re ready to spend your free time doing much more than clearing out your Netflix queue shows your excellent work ethic and high motivation — what employer doesn’t want that?
But you can also show how your side projects will encourage you to get valuable skills and experience that will be an asset for you during your whole career and to your company right now. So, if you learn amazing tech skills that you’ll be putting to use as a freelancer, let your boss know that those same skills will help you make a killer email newsletter for your company.
7. Make sure you give 110% at work
No matter how excited you and, hopefully, your boss are about you freelancing, you have to keep in mind that you still have to be committed to your job as much as before — if not more so. Be sure you’re on time for meetings, stay on top of deadlines, share ideas and enthusiasm, and just generally do what’s expected of you.
And don’t forget — that includes coming into work rested and ready to work (no staying up all night working on that side project!) and not talking about your freelance clients with your co-workers during coffee breaks, much less during working hours.
8. Keep your freelancing on your own time
Do not undertake your side-project at work. Even if it’s a slow day, save your projects for after hours. Stick to the business of your company during the day, and you’ll stick in your boss’s mind as a good employee who just happens to be doing some fantastic work on the side.
And resist the temptation to use your work laptop, phone, or even the copy paper and stapler for freelance projects. Although they’re small costs for the company, they’re still company resources. And you’ll avoid any hard feelings (or worse!) by staying within those boundaries.
9. Make the most of your freelancing time
Take advantage of the time you do have to freelance so that, when you have to be at the office, you’ll be there fully mentally and physically.
You can find time for freelancing by getting up early, staying up late (but not all night, right?!), using your weekends, or trading in your vacation for time spent on your own projects.
And you can use each and every minute as best you can by not taking on more than you can handle, planning your work carefully, staying on schedule, and focusing fully on the work to be done. All this will help you earn more money as a freelancer, get better experience, and build a reputation that will serve you both now and into the future.
10. Make sure you still keep up-to-date with upgrading your skills and on the job Training (Employer Training)
This is critical to staying competitive in your job. Still take advantage of all the training you can undertake. Never take your day job for granted. Upgrading your skills will benefit both your day job and your freelance side project. Your boss will see that you are still 100% committed to the job.