Moonlighting During the Pandemic: Things to Consider

Large parts of the American workforce have been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic led employers to close offices. 

Without a long daily commute to contend with, many full-time designers, writers, and editors might find themselves with a little bit of extra time on their hands. Some may find they have even more time for productivity without meandering conference room meetings or water cooler chit-chat.

If you’re the type to be more productive working at home, you might be tempted to earn additional income by freelancing in your new-found free time. After all, with the economic uncertainty that many companies are facing these days, it isn’t a bad idea to find a way to add to your emergency savings. 

Before you dip your toes into the freelancing pool while still working at home full-time for your employer, there are some things you ought to consider first:

Keep it Separate

Even though you are working from home, your boss definitely expects you to maintain your regular schedule. 

That means you should definitely not be building out your Fiverr profile when you still have wireframes to finish for your project manager. If you plan to moonlight during the pandemic, carve out a dedicated block of time outside of your regular work hours. Even if it takes less time to perform your regular job duties, it is still wise to delineate between your employer’s time and your own freelancing time.

For example, if you used to arrive at work from 9 am to 5 pm, consider starting your workday at 7 am and knocking off at 3 pm. From 3 pm to 6 pm, you can freelance to your heart’s content without “cheating” on your boss.

Watch Out for Conflicts of Interest

Your employer considers you a valuable asset, so they probably wouldn’t be too pleased if you were providing your talents to a direct competitor. For instance, if you are a copywriter for a health insurance company, you should avoid taking freelance gigs from other health insurance companies!

It is possible that when you accepted your job offer, you signed some paperwork that included a non-compete clause. If that’s the case, now might be a good time to review that information to make sure you don’t run afoul of your employment contract. If in doubt, check with your manager to see if they consider any of your freelance activities to be a conflict of interest.

Remember Your Taxes

Your employer takes a chunk out of your wages every pay period to cover employment taxes. But when you freelance, you become your own employer, so you have to pay your own employment taxeson top of any additional income taxes you’ll owe from increasing your earnings. 

When you report your freelance earnings come tax time, you might be in for a bit of a surprise. To soften the blow, set aside 20% of your freelance earnings to cover any taxes you’ll owe. If you earn enough freelancing, you may need to pay them quarterly.

Don’t Over Do It. 

Be sure to reserve time for yourself. 

Adding freelancing to your work-from-home job can take time away from time you could spend with family or relaxing. Take on too much right away and you might soon find yourself burning the candle at both ends. Instead, ease into freelancing gigs and start off with one job at a time. 

Think about how many hours you’ll be spending on extra work, how many hours you need to keep up with your regular job, and how many hours are left over for you!

Get to Gigging

With all that in mind, there is no time like the present to earn some extra income while the opportunity exists. 

One way to get started is to join Fiverr and create a custom menu of the services you offer. From there you can engage with clients under your own terms and start earning right away. 

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