6 Steps to Telling Your Boss About Your Freelance Side Gig

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Starting out as a freelancer while keeping your day job is one of the best ways to start out a new career. It’s not hard to see why. First of all, the beginnings of a freelancing career tend to be rather slow. You won’t have a lot of work in the first months.


Having your regular old job to go to can be a welcome distraction. Furthermore, you need stability. And there are few things more stable than a paycheck going in every month.

So that’s why a lot of people keep their jobs when taking their first steps towards freelancing. There is one sore spot, however, that often ends up being the source of trouble: disclosure.

How much do you tell your boss? Do you tell them anything at all? The answers to those questions are 1) it depends and 2) yes.

Not in-depth enough? Read on for our 6 steps of how to go about telling your boss that you’ve started freelancing on the side.

1. Check Your Contract

So the first step you always want to take is to have a good look at your work contract. Is freelancing addressed and potentially obstructed in any way? Make sure you’ve fully answered that question before even beginning to plan out your freelancing career. Depending on how restrictive the contract is and whether or not you’re willing to quit your job, this answer will decide how you proceed.

If you’re feeling unsure about certain clauses of the contract, please do consult a lawyer. You don’t want to get sued for breaching a contract.

2. Is There a Conflict of Interest?

Conflict of interest might be included in your contract or even implicitly be a part of it. Basically, you want to make sure you’re not threatening any business interests of your employer with your side freelancer gigs. That could include things like working for the competition or making similar products to theirs.

It is obviously best, at least from this viewpoint, that your freelancing work and your job are completely unrelated. However, that’s most likely not the case. Again, legal help might be necessary here if you think you’re moving in a grey area.

Portfolio Dragos Muntean

3. Be Honest

If you’re serious about your freelance work, you have to tell your boss. It’s as simple as that. Freelancers have to put themselves out there. They have to advertise. They need a website, social media accounts, a network of clients, and fellow freelancers.

So if you want to be a freelancer you’ll need all of those things. And every single one of them is a way for your boss to find out that you have a gig on the side. Sooner or later, they will find out.

So lying is, even ignoring the moral side of the issue, completely pointless. You don’t want to be restricted by a lie and have to hide your work. Being honest with your boss is the way to go!

4. Say You’ll Work as Hard as Ever (and Do It!)

So you’ve told your boss. What’s the first thing they will worry about? The answer is simple – they worry about you doing less work or being worse at it. You’ll have to convince them that’s not the case.

Deeds speak louder than words in this case. Right after you make your announcement, you’ll have to persevere at your job. Make sure you’re not slacking off and work extra hard if you have to. Does that sound too exhausting? Nobody said it’s going to be easy. Freelancing and keeping your regular job at the same time is hard work, so you’ll have to really commit.

5. Don’t Mix Freelancing and Your Day Job

It’s not just about working as hard as in the past, though. You really have to separate the two jobs. That starts at trivial things like not using your work mail for your freelancing needs. It also means not taking calls from clients during work, etc. But, most importantly, not mixing the two is also about keeping your freelancing to yourself. You’ve told your boss sure, but not all of your colleagues have to know – talking about your side gig all the time at work can leave a bitter taste in their mouths.

6. Emphasize the Benefits of Your Side Gig

Telling your boss that you’re now also a freelancer is not only about avoiding threats and being extra careful. There are also advantages about having someone like you on the payroll.

First of all, it shows that you’re motivated and willing to go the extra mile. Secondly, freelancing comes with personal benefits. Not only does it strengthen your self-discipline, but you’ll also be encouraged to learn some new skills (these are the top skills no freelancer can do without!). Talk about it with your boss. Freelancing can make you a better employee.

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Viktor Marinov

Viktor is the voice behind the freelancermap blog. Every week he comes up with helpful hints, checklists, and guides for freelancers and independent workers. If you would like to know how to find remote jobs online or how to niche yourself as a freelancer, don't miss his freelancer tips!

By Viktor Marinov

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