This is not a topic I’m thrilled to think about. As a freelancer, I’ve created a work-life balance for myself that is perfectly catered to my own needs. I know when the best times are, for me, to get work done, and when I need to be available for my family. None of this falls into a 9-5 opening of course.

Yet, the hardest part of being a freelancer is consistency. It’s near impossible to guarantee the same workload will come in each month, which means paychecks vary. Although, even without consistency, there are patterns, and sometimes the pattern trends downward to the point where it may be time to think about getting a regular paycheck again.

As more companies bring certain services in house that were typically done by a freelancer, you may be at this point too, I know it has been on my mind a lot more lately.


The first clue that that it may be time to go back to work full-time is the money. Are you bringing in enough to pay bills? If not, how long will your savings allow you to float to see if things pick up?

I have tracked my monthly income each month since I started freelancing which allows me to see patterns. Not only can I look back and understand how my income this month compares to the previous month, but I can look back over years and see if there are patterns. Is July always my lowest-paying month? (yes) Does my income trend upward at the start of each year and then again at the end? (yup) Even if this pattern still exists, it’s when my monthly totals start to consistently go down that I begin to worry.

The benefit to all this tracking is that it gives me time to plan ahead. If I’ve had a few months in a row with a lower income, I start checking LinkedIn and watching for jobs to pop up with a few particular companies I always keep my eye on. Maybe I’ll apply for something, but it won’t be an aggressive push just yet. The dip needs to dip for a while before I really get nervous.


The next step in my thought process of going back to work full-time has been to really think about what kind of work I want to do. Before becoming a freelancer, I worked in marketing and MARCOM. I did a lot of strategizing and coordinating, attended a lot of meetings. The one thing I didn’t do often was write. As a freelancer, that’s all I’ve been doing and I love it. I love being in the copy whether I’m editing, researching or writing it myself, so focusing on future opportunities that really let me use those skills is important.

Going back full time doesn’t have to be about taking a job out of necessity. If you’ve given yourself some time to look around, you can focus your energy on ideal opportunities. For me, I’ve begun searching a little, and am focusing on copy editor, proofreader and content lead opportunities at companies where I feel a connection to what they’re making/selling. I also wouldn’t mind spending my time in a bookstore, so I’m looking at those jobs too.


When that job search does begin in earnest, an important point to consider is your schedule. If you’ve been setting your own hours and working from home as a freelancer, it may be challenging to go into an office every day and have a job that goes from 9-5.

Today’s job postings usually list whether a job is fully remote, hybrid or in office, so you can narrow down your search to accommodate what works best for you. But, you can also go for those in-office listings and then have a discussion about creating a flex schedule that would work for everyone.

For me, I know I want to spend most of my work day at home. Even if the expectation is that I’ll work 9-5 while at home, I need the flexibility to grab my son off the bus, or be close by if I get a call from school. These are things that won’t interfere with my work day since my kids are old enough to not disrupt me when I’m busy, but I’ll work more efficiently without worrying about them or having to find alternate childcare options.


Considering going back to work full time has not been easy. The job market today feels different than it was when I went into freelancing a few years ago. I look at postings on LinkedIn and see hundreds of applicants have beaten me to the punch. If I throw my resume into the pile, will it even get read? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure all that out, but for now, here’s what I’ve been doing.

Since I’m only passively looking for work, I have yet to mobilize my network. I haven’t asked anyone if they know about any jobs nor alerted any of my previous colleagues that I’m looking for an opportunity. I do check job postings once every week or two. I’ll apply for a job if it looks interesting, especially if the hiring manager or recruiter is listed and I can reach out them via PM once I’ve sent in my application.

I also look for connections. If there are two identical roles at different companies, but at one I can get an internal referral, I’m going for that job. An internal referral won’t get you work, but it can move your resume to the top of the pile. When there are 400 other applicants, that can really make a difference.

I’ve also identified a few companies where I know I’d be happy as an employee. I keep an eye on those.

If my situation shifts, and it becomes imperative that I bring in more work/get a full time job, I’ll get more aggressive in my hunt. At that point, I’ll make direct contact with the people in my network I know have the ability to hire and are in an industry I already know something about.


It’s intimidating to think of having to shift your lifestyle completely around for work, but freelancing is unpredictable. To willingly embark on a freelancing journey, you should always keep the possibility of going back to work full time in the back of your mind. It’s always going to be something you might have to do if you need to provide for yourself and your family.

And although I’m not thrilled at the prospect of having to potentially change up all of my routines, I do find myself getting excited about the possibilities. I have even been able to visualize myself within certain roles that I see listed. It’s encouraging.

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy