How to Thrive as a Full-Time Freelancer 

Freelancing isn’t just a side hustle anymore — it can be your full-time job (and a lucrative one, too!). As of January 2024, there are an estimated 76.4 million freelancers in the United States, and ~40% of them freelance full-time. To back that up, we asked our creative community how many freelance hours they log each week. The response? 36% are leveraging freelance work as their main income stream.  

It’s clear that creatives are consciously opting for the freelance path, and for good reason. We asked two of our seasoned recruiters, Elizabeth Calabrese and Jayce Reyes, how to thrive as a full-time freelancer. Here’s what they had to say:

Freedom, Flexibility, and Self-Management

Being a freelancer means you’re the captain of your own ship, the CEO of your freelance business. “You can decide when and where you work. Your freelance hours can flex around your personal needs, plus, there’s a lot of opportunities to work remote,” says Elizabeth.  

Picture this: You’re putting the finishing touches on your latest design project, sipping hot coffee in your work-from-home attire (we’ll let you decide what that looks like) while the rest of the 9–5ers are still stuck in rush hour traffic just to get to the office. 

And can you do this full-time? Yep! But you’ll likely need to pick up multiple part-time gigs. And doing this well requires organization, clear communication, and time management.  

Elizabeth stresses the importance of project management. “When juggling part-time gigs, find a method that works for you. It could be splitting up your days per client, or creating time blocks for each client each day.”  Elizabeth suggests looking into project management tools to help manage your workload across clients. If you need somewhere to start, our Creative Circle favorite is Asana. 

Diverse Portfolio and Higher Pay

Freelancing full-time enables you to diversify your portfolio relatively quickly.   

When hiring managers see your comprehensive range from web design to content writing to social media management they’ll perceive greater value, making you a highly sought after candidate.  

Jayce Reyes shares that the most in-demand skills he’s seeing at the moment are “technical skills related to digital platforms, coding, and specialized software.” He reminds us to never undervalue soft skills. “Effective communication, time management, and adaptability are universally valued across industries,” says Jayce. Freelancers should consider gigs in fields with growing demand, such as digital marketing, data analysis, or user experience design.  

But don’t just diversify your skills — explore different industries, too.   

Jayce explains how experience in multiple verticals can be particularly advantageous when trying to make more money. “Freelancers can strategically seek out opportunities in specific verticals that have higher demand for their skills and offer greater compensation.”  He adds, “Find the industry that calls to you and take on gigs there. Becoming an industry-specific expert can enable you to command higher rates due the specialized nature of your services.”   

When setting wage expectations, consider each project’s scope, complexity, and the value you provide. Decide on a pricing structure (hourly, per-project, or retainer) that aligns with your work style and your financial goals. Jayce says, “It’s crucial to periodically reassess your rates as your experience and market demand evolve.”  

To access detailed salary breakdowns for creative, marketing, and tech roles, check out our salary guide 

Link Arms with a Recruiter

One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is finding consistent work. And when you’re freelancing full-time, the work needs to keep flowing. That’s where a trusted recruiter comes in — they know you better than your favorite coffee shop barista! 

Recruiters do the heavy lifting to find relevant openings, make client intros, and negotiate the best rates on your behalf. At Creative Circle, our connections with top companies get your resume in front of the right people and provide you access to positions that aren’t posted anywhere else. Plus, when you work with us, you’re on our payroll. So, you can immediately cross “send invoice” off that to-do list in your new project management tool 😉.    

We’re Here to Help

With great freedom comes great responsibility. Managing every aspect of your freelance business setting schedules, constant communication, meeting deadlines, client satisfaction, invoicing can be overwhelming, but Creative Circle is here to help you. If you’re interested in dipping your toes in the gig economy or are ready to dive into freelancing full-time, connect with us here! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.