5 websites to start your ‘moonlighting’ or freelancing journey

There has been a lot of noise lately regarding the ethicality of whether or not an employee can take up a second job while still working the first one. This is not such a great deal when it comes to the startup fraternity because the startup community thrives on freelance work. Either big companies need them or small artists need them. Again, freelancing is a completely different ball game.

Moonlighting is not same as freelancing

Most of the time freelancing is confused with moonlighting, but they are two completely different entities.

Tech and the Gig Economy: Understanding Side Hustles (Freelancing) vs. Moonlighting

Quick Disclaimer: This has got nothing to do with either the moon or moonlight! Instead, it’s got everything to do with what one does when the moon is out!

In case you’re living under a rock and haven’t come across this new term in town called “moonlighting”, here’s all you need to know about it.

Moonlighting, what?

For the uninitiated, moonlighting refers to the practice of working for one company while taking up additional work, responsibilities and jobs from another employer (i.e. working for a competitor), typically secretly and at night, in addition to one's regular employment.

On a comical note, it used to be a life of a superhero or a vigilante who did a normal job during the day and turned into a crime-fighting hero by night. If ever this superhero worked for an MNC in India, he would have been terminated (unless his secret identity was the same as his employee ID.)

Whereas side hustle refers to work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job – it’s more associated with a contract or freelance projects & well it would also mean not working for the competitors.

Moonlighting: Well, why not?

The Bright Side of Moonlighting

Taking this issue into notice, many companies have already begun to establish rules related to Moonlighting. Swiggy has even formed a “Moonlighting Policy” that allows their employees to take up jobs outside the workplace until their productivity during working hours isn’t hampered. The concept of “Ethical Moonlighting” is soon coming to the fore and gaining more popularity. Being in the IT sector, the MD of Tech Mahindra quoted to the press that even his organization would probably “make a policy” about moonlighting but hopes that the employees are “open about it”.

We would suggest creating an employee moonlighting policy, not a freelancing ban!

If you want to start an alternate stream of income, Pensil has compiled a list of five platforms that can get you freelancing gigs.

1. Upwork

Upwork is one of the most well-known freelancing websites, and also one of the biggest. They work with a wide range of industries, from IT and programming to marketing, accounting and admin services, but the sheer amount of competition can make things difficult. To compensate, Upwork uses talent badges to help certain freelancers stand out—if you qualify for one or more of these, in particular a Rising Talent badge, it could make all the difference.


  • virtually any freelance business service

Recommended for…

  • freelancers with the credentials to stand out in a crowd
  • businesses that have tried other freelancing websites already but want more options or variety

2. Fiverr

Fiverr is a fast and cheap freelancing platform (their name refers to the standard $5 fee for gigs), but they don’t limit themselves to any specialities. There is virtually any service on Fiverr, including celebrity impersonations and fortune telling. That means it’s a great place to make a quick buck, or to get a job done quickly.


  • cheap micro-gigs for both business and lifestyle tasks

Recommended for…

  • anyone with a service to provide, from jobs for accounting, design and data entry to fitness and cooking lessons
  • new freelancers looking to build a portfolio fast
  • businesses looking for anything from accounting and marketing to more unconventional requests, like hiring someone to comment on your blog

Fiverr helps professionals like writers, graphic designers, and software developers, among others in finding freelancing gigs.


3. Guru

Guru has a very similar model to Freelancer, in that both focus on higher-end business services. So for businesses it’s a great way to find freelancers with different skills.

For freelancers, you can still find serious gigs that pay well, but again you have to jump through hoops. The biggest complaint about Guru is the freelancer membership fees. The free plan lets you bid on 120 projects per year, but considering other paid memberships have perks like search boosts, premium quotes and sales messages, you’ll likely have to sign up just to compete.


  • freelance business services: programming & development, copywriting and graphic design, but also legal, educational and administrative

Recommended for…

  • established freelancers who can afford paying membership fees for extra leads
  • businesses that regularly use freelancers for day-to-day operations and need skilled professionals in a variety of fields

4. Freelancer

On the spectrum of freelancing websites, Freelancer is a more formal, business-oriented brand. There won’t be any fortune tellers on here! They offer a large pool of professional-tier freelancers for a variety of business services. Because they cater to larger businesses, freelancers can find some lucrative projects here. A thing to keep in mind is projects require time tracking and logging all working hours into an app.

Freelancers be warned: you have to pay for memberships to remove limitations on bidding and applying.


  • freelance business services: web design & development, graphic design, copywriting and accounting

Recommended for…

  • experienced freelancers who don’t mind working unders restrictions for big business projects
  • businesses that run a tight-ship and want to ensure the job gets done timely and efficiently

5. 99designs

99designs by Vistaprint is a global creative platform that makes it easy for clients and freelance designers to work together online. Our community of professional design experts from around the world focusses on all areas of graphic design, encompassing web design, packaging design, logo design, book covers and many more.

Clients can browse designer profiles and work directly with a designer on a creative project or they can launch a design contest to invite the entire creative community to submit design concepts.


  • high-quality, custom graphic design

Recommended for…

  • freelance designers looking to build a career in graphic design
  • businesses of all sizes who need custom design work, such as logos, branding, web design, product packaging and more
99 Designs

You can also read annual freelance report – Design without borders to gain a fresh perspective on how freelancers around the world think, feel and operate.

In the end what really matters for you as a freelancer is your audience development and community building skill, this is what will take you far in your career as a freelancer.

Whether it’s to tell an under-covered story or to extend your personal brand, freelancers are experimenting with launching their own communities and editorial products from newsletters and podcasts to live-streamed events.

Pensil- All in one community platform for creators

Pensil is an integrable and easy-to-use platform for running and managing online communities, cohort-based courses, and discussion forums.

With Pensil, you’ll find a new home for your online community that provides a satisfying user experience while still driving sales.

Pensil is go-to platform for creators

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