Things to Consider Before Moonlighting
It is always a good idea to earn passive income, in fact, the use of smartphones and the internet has created a gig economy where we can all work part-time or engage in short-term projects periodically. Now, finding and obtaining a second job is only a few clicks away. The reality is that most of us do not earn enough to be able to afford a decent standard of living. Therefore, for those who have time to do so, we tend to rely on moonlighting to sustain ourselves financially.
What is moonlighting? It is simply the act of having a second job, usually after normal 9-5 hours. It used to refer to working when the moon is up (therefore, “moon”-lighting), but can also refer to other secondary work arrangements.
However, other than it being a huge juggling act, moonlighting is not necessarily straightforward or easy. But fret not, here are a few simple things for you to consider and prepare before you begin freelancing or picking up side jobs!
Check Your Contracts
Informally, it might also be helpful to notify your Manager or team of what you do on the side. In such a way, you can be honest and transparent about your commitments and even obtain tips and advice where necessary. Although it is not a formal procedure, keeping your team in the loop is always a good way to build rapport.
Ready Your Materials
- An introduction deck: this would explain who you are and your background
- Portfolio: this is to showcase your previous projects and credentials
- Resume: a short and sweet breakdown of your experiences
- Products and/or services: details down what you have to offer
- Rate cards: prices for your products and/or services
If you are selling products, you need to make sure you have all your stock and packaging ready to go! Whereas if you intend to be a Grab driver, you need to make sure your car is always in a good condition. Whatever roles or jobs, having these materials ready allows you to think through your unique selling propositions and price-points. One of the benefits of viewing these as side jobs is the autonomy to reject projects that do not align with your values or prices. As such, if someone is offering an unrealistically low price for your services, you can kindly reject it because it is not your sole source of income. Detailing down the conditions in your invoice is also crucial to ease your workflow and make sure you get paid!
Work Out a Process
Date of engagement (from [date] to [date])
Status (ongoing, delayed, postponed, completed)
Invoice (either the Invoice Number or the status of whether or not I have sent it out)
Payment status (delayed, paid)
I also have tabs to keep track of the quotations I sent out to interested or potential clients – this allows me to follow up with them accordingly.
As for my invoice tab, I have included:
- Invoice Number
- Name of Client
- Date sent
- Deposit (e.g. paid 30%)
- Receipt number for deposit
- Payment status (delayed, paid, etc)
- Receipt number for full payment
Of course, this is a very simple tracking system and one that works for me. As you venture into different projects, it is important to have something ready so you can effectively manage your accounts well.
By communicating your timelines as openly as possible, you are building a healthy rapport and creating a sense of trust. This is much better than overpromising and under-delivering. So, be clear about your availability, for example:
- Setting fixed times for communication, such as weekends or after 6pm on weekdays
- Turning on auto-replies to inform your availability
- Do not bite off more than you can chew
Prepare to Make Sacrifices
Unfortunately, working on multiple jobs often suggests that you would then have less time for something. This could be sleep, personal me-time, or lesser social events. One way or another, in order to make time to complete your side projects, you would have to make sacrifices in other areas. So, choose how you want to manage your time wisely, and even be honest with your family or significant other about the struggles you are or will be experiencing.
Do remind yourself that your mental well-being should not be sacrificed, and if you find yourself struggling or burning out, make sure to recuperate and make time for yourself, too. Without a healthy mind and physical body, you cannot accomplish much or produce good quality work – so always prioritize your health!
File Your Income Tax
There are guides online that walk you through the process of filing income taxes for your side businesses or freelance work. Do note that there are different forms and procedures if you have a registered business, compared to merely working as a freelancer. Although this is a tedious process, it’s an important step to building your creditworthiness (which might be of good use in the future)!
Being able to work on a side gig you enjoy, that also acts as a source of extra income, can be a huge joy. It may require a lot of effort and sacrifices, but can be made easier when you have the right materials and processes in place. Take it one step and a time, and slowly work towards a balance or momentum that works for you. You got this!