How to Create a Career without a Full-Time Job

How some workers cobble together careers with a variety of income streams.

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Consider finding a steady part-time gig you can depend on. This is especially important in the beginning, and it's how many slashers get their start. Having money you can count on goes a long way toward helping you feel comfortable without a full-time paycheck. Rowan, the vintage seller/social media strategist/blogger/secretary, spends 20 hours a week editing Web content for one company. "It's that steady job," she says, "but I'm not there all the time."

[See And On the Side, I'm an Entrepreneur.]

Save for a rainy day. Having a financial cushion becomes more important when you depend on work that ebbs and flows. "You're going to have lean and mean times," says Munar, the writer/marketer, "and you're going to have to plan for that." Savings will also help you be more selective about which projects you accept, because you won't be desperate for the money.

Set aside time for yourself. When you're not on a 9-to-5 schedule, it's easy to forget to take time off. Vicki Salemi, a journalist/recruiter/ public speaker/author/career coach, recommends putting aside blocks of time for social events and exercise, when you don't think about work. "I love what I do, so it doesn't feel like work," the New York City resident says. "Sometimes it's hard to shut off." Personal interaction will also benefit your career, she adds, because social events can lead to new connections and spark new ideas.

Pick one or two focus points. Even if you're juggling a handful of interests, you'll inevitably put more effort into one or two—and that's OK, Alboher says. "There's a common misconception that people that have these slash careers, that they just go out full-tilt and do all of this at once," she says. "But you plant seeds for different parts of your career at different stages of your life. When you have opportunities [to boost certain aspects], you should seize those moments."

Allow your slashes to morph. Sometimes one slash will become more of a money-maker than you expected, and others will fall to the wayside. Saya Hillman of Mac 'n Cheese Productions started shooting and editing videos for non-profits when she was let go from her job seven years ago, but now her business has diversified. In addition to teaching digital media in schools, the 32-year-old hosts events, often at her home, to help clients expand their professional, personal, and romantic networks. "I didn't mean for this to become a business," says Hillman, who lives in Chicago.

What does she call herself? An accidental entrepreneur.

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