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  • Alis Hâf

Freelancing and Full Time work: How I balance both.

It's safe to say if you've reached this blog you've most probably taken a look at some of my recent work and figured it out that my designing is a side gig or as the majority of millennials like to call it my 'side hustle'.


I didn't set out after university with the aim of working full time and freelancing but it just sort of happened that way (as life does) and I won't bore you with the full back story but sometime some context is useful! At university I studied Advertising and even though it gave me a confidence boost, pitching briefs in major ad agencies can do that for you, I graduated and couldn't find a job. The internships and placements I'd done had dried up so I moved back home to Mid Wales where there are virtually no advertising agencies and the majority of jobs in marketing are within local companies and businesses. As I waited until the right opportunity came up I started working on a number of personal projects, most of which included elements of design, and I started to post some of these on Instagram. This is ultimately how my journey to freelance designing started.


I met potential clients through Instagram but also through word of mouth, friends and family and the design projects started to increase and also I got paid for it! At this point I'd also found a part time job and grown a regular client base that I was working with on design projects each month. This was up until around a year ago.


In June 2019 an opportunity appeared for a full time marketing position and so I started to work full time during the day and work on my design projects and client work in the evenings and on the weekend. During this time as the work I was creating was reaching a wider audience, the number of projects grew and I also started to work with clients furtehr a field even internationally. In some ways it might appear that I've got it all together but there's a few things I've followed to make sure I separate and get the right balance between my 9-5 work and my design work.

Prioritise your time

The first thing that's important is to make sure you have a healthy work-life balance. I know everyone goes on about this but it's true, and pre Coronavirus I had pretty much sorted out. I would take a bus to my 9-5 and I hadn’t realised how much the journey to and from work helped to define my day and seperate the day job and my 'side hustle'. It gave me time to wind down before I got home and meant I could get started on design projects in the evening with a fresh mind. It’’s only since lockdown that I’ve realise how useful that was as a balancing tool.

Over the past few months while working from home I've realised how important it is to try and separate my time and make sure I dedicate 9-5 for the day job and prioritise down time afterwards before getting started on any design work. I now go for a walk everyday after work, or listen to a podcast and I also make sure to eat dinner so I have that clear division of time.

I also schedule weekend design work in advance. There are times where if I don't have any clear plans I could spend the entire weekend working on a project which isn't a great use of time when you then have to get up on a Monday morning and work for the entire week. So I now make sure I schedule time in the diary for any design work and make sure I have other plans over the weekend like meeting friends, reading or a day trip to make sure I take time for myself to be able to balance both aspects of my work life.


Be passionate The only reason I think I've managed to get this far with having the designing as a side hustle is by being passionate and enjoying the design work. The one piece of advice I would give anyone who is looking to start a side hustle is that you definitely need to have a passion for what you do otherwise you could fall flat and not motivate yourself to work at it as much as you need to, to make it a success. I’ve always had a love for being creative and going to uni really opened my eyes to the different options that were out there in terms of how I could do what I love while also making a bit more money on the side.


Know your boundaries

One thing I always get asked is whether I'd ever want to grow the side hustle design full time and my answer for the most part is no. When I set out designing on the side it was always something I was going to do on the side, and I told myself that was how it would stay. By no means does that mean I'm less passionate about the work and in some ways by choosing to speand my evenings and weekends designing it actually shows how passionate i am about the work.

But because I currently work 9-5 doing a job that I actually really love, through meeting amazing people, and running events online and in person, I’m not really looking to expand the side hustle model that I currently have. The balance of both works for me and that's how I enjoy it. So I would say if you start on a side hustle journey make sure you're clear with yourself as to what you want to get out of it. If it's a full time business that eventually replaces your 9-5 then you need to set that goal from the beginning and work tirelessly to make it come true but for me that wasn't the dream and I'm happy with the balance I already have and will continue to be happy with, through having the boundaries I've set. Sometimes I like to think it’s like the saying why change a good thing when you don’t have to?!

Learn from your mistakes.

The journey so far hasn't been without it's challenges and there have been times when I've found it difficult to balance the day job and side huslte balance, especially since coronavirus led me to working from home full time. But as long as you can learn to acknowledge the challenges and learn from them you should be able to turn them into your strengths. Spend time fuguring out what isn't working, get advice from others (if you're already reading this then you're one step further!), use online resources or tools to make your life easier and see how you can implement new ways of working to help you achieve the best balance. At least that's what's worked for me.


It's not been easy but I've got to a place where I'm happy and feel as though I have the best of both balance and the four tips above have helped me to fugure it out. I'm still continuing to grow and I'm always looking for new projects to work on, so if you're looking for branding advice or have a project you need a designer for then send me a message. Otherwise if your looking for more tips on how to balance the freelance and day job life then send me a message too, I'm always happy to chat to fellow designers or freelancers!

alishaf96@gmail.com​