Freelance Career Tips

Dr. Kristin Cardinale
Dr. Kristin Cardinale

Dr. Kristin Cardinale is an author, entrepreneur, career coach and an expert at balancing a full time job with freelance work. Her latest book, The 9 to 5 Cure, talks about curing the obsession with 9 to 5 jobs and helping people launch an exciting and fulfilling freelance career. Dr. Cardinale shares her tips for making the leap into the freelance life and balancing freelancing work with full time employment in this exclusive LoveToKnow Jobs interview.

Curing the Obsession with a 9 to 5 Job

LoveToKnow (LTK): Can you explain more about 'curing the 9 to 5 obsession'?

Dr. Kristin Cardinale (KC): As massive unemployment has swept the country in recent years, people are becoming acutely aware of how tenuous the promise of job security really is. In growing numbers people are awakening to the fact that job security typically associated with a 9-to-5 job is a smoke-and-mirrors proposition and many are transitioning to entrepreneurship for stability, not to mention a better quality of life.

While this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, a paradigm shift away from the subservient model of 9-to-5 employment and toward the independence that entrepreneurship offers is a growing trend; most notably, freelancers are entering the workforce en masse. In fact, The Freelancers Union stated recently that nearly one-third of today's workforce is composed of freelancers!

My approach to freelance-based entrepreneurship is called The Patchwork Principle which is a formula that combines happiness and stability in equal measure. The fundamental premise is that small jobs yield big payoffs. These short-term, part-time, temporary gigs and consultancies present unique opportunities. In combination these small jobs can be arranged by the Patchworker to create a mosaic of interesting and meaningful small jobs that may vary in any number of ways including required skill sets, appointment types and rates of pay.

Unlike consultancies, the jobs do not necessarily remain within the same field of expertise, presenting an opportunity for Patchworkers to utilize multiple skill sets, sample new areas of interest, develop new skill sets without risk and respond to the changing marketplace rapidly and easily. Perhaps most notably, the inherent design of The Patchwork Principle is stable and insulated from sudden and total job loss due to the array of employers contributing to the Patchworker's bottom line.

The result is a liberated, new career lifestyle that is customized to meet the demands of every working woman's personal demands, hallmarked by freedom and choice, happiness and revenue.

LTK: Many people are afraid of taking the leap into freelancing and leaving benefits behind. What do you suggest?

KC: The biggest myth in the workplace today is that 9-to-5 jobs provide security. Nothing could be further from the truth. Working a series of small jobs insulates you from total job loss in the event of a layoff; however, working one so-called steady job is a total risk. In the event of a layoff you are 100% unemployed. When you look at it from this perspective it seems that maintaining the status quo in a traditional career position is in fact the riskier proposition!

A good starting point for those considering making the leap from a full-time job to full-time Patchworking is to dip their toe in the water, test it out. Picking up a side gig while working your full-time job is a viable option for the ambitious. Be careful to guard against burnout; working day and night can leave you feeling exhausted if you are not careful to carefully manage your time. Be selective about the side gig you choose; set yourself up for a successful venture.

The 9 to 5 Cure

Balancing Full Time Employment and Freelance Work

LTK: How can someone balance a 9 to 5 job with freelance work?

KC: While part-time freelancing is an opportunity to earn some extra money on the side, that can't be your focus if you're going to be successful in the long run. Part-time freelancing has to be part of a bigger goal if it is to continually engage you. Ask yourself what the big picture goal is that part-time freelancing fits into? The answer to that question is the fuel that will energize your freelance career and catapult you toward success.

As a preemptive move, depending on your circumstances you may want to broach the subject with your boss to avoid a potentially sticky situation. For example, your current employer may react poorly if you get caught doing freelance work on the premises without having sought prior permission. In my experience, working during your lunch hour or after hours on your own equipment is well-received by most employers.

When running a business, you will need to interact with your clients during normal business hours when they, too, are at work. This can cause problems. For example, imagine if you are on the phone talking to a client and your boss walks in and decides to wait until the call ends to speak with you.

Take on work cautiously. Be sure the work is a good fit with your available resources, such as time or equipment.

Be upfront with your clients. Let your clients know you are currently working full time and may not always be readily available during normal business hours.

Separate your phone and e-mail communications from your current workplace systems. Electronic communications routed through your workplace network are subject to monitoring by the network administrator. You may want to invest in a Smartphone to manage all of your communications during work hours exclusively and independent of your employer's network.

Be aware that this full-time plus part-time work arrangement may cause you to feel like you are working day and night. This lifestyle can quickly lead to burnout and ultimately cause you to call it quits, robbing you of the chance to experience living the career lifestyle of your dreams.

Learn More

Dr. Cardinale has written two books on careers and jobs: The 9-to-5 Cure: Work on Your Own Terms and Reinvent Your Life. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter: @WorkOnPurpose.

Freelance Career Tips