What I’ve learned in my first week as a full-time freelancer
I’m standing at the kitchen counter half-dressed. Well, my hair and makeup are done and I have a nice top on, but the bottom half is dressed in comfy sweatpants. I would look very much presentable for a web conference call.
I’m listening to my two boys, ages four and 19 months, play around on an inflatable air mattress in the living room.
Welcome to the life of a freelance working mom.
I chose this life. It’s my first week of this new life and it’s been one of reflection.
In the past few years, it has become very apparent to me that my heart and mind just isn’t cut out for a full-time office job. After a while, I’d get bored and started feeling trapped in the fluorescent glow of a corporate building. The reality is there just wasn’t enough to occupy my mind.
I didn’t like the feeling of needing to be somewhere at a certain time and for a specific length of time. In short, the 40-hour structured work week just isn’t for me.
I needed space and freedom to motivate my soul. I needed someone to take away my security blanket.
Let’s face it, corporate office life is safe and comfortable. At least for those of us in roles without managerial or leadership responsibilities.
Take away the security of a steady paycheck and employee benefits and a fire is lit under your ass. And baby, it’s burning.
Before I quit my job, I went through several days of sheer panic and doubt.
Was I stupid for leaving my salaried job? I had a family to think about. Am I putting too much pressure on my husband to carry us if I fail? Can I really do this? I’m not going to make it. Dreams aren’t meant to be acted on. I’m just going to settle for career unhappiness.
I wrestled with all of these thoughts. But, after a lot of discussion with my husband and myself, we determined this was what was best for me at the moment.
And let me tell you, this has been the happiest week of my life. I feel less stressed, I have optimized my time “at work” and at home, and best of all, I get to spend more time with my boys (two days during the work week they are home with me).
Would I want to be a full-time stay at home parent? No, that’s not for me (bravo to those folks, that’s a tough gig). But freelancing gives me the best of both worlds — I get to challenge my mind and expand my abilities as a freelance copywriter, and I get to spend more time with my kids.
But it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.
90% of freelancing (so far) is hustling to get clients. I’ve been fortunate to have connections that have allowed me to quickly grow my client base, but I’m still not where I want to be financially. With taxes to consider, I need to bring in about $1000/month more than what I was earning in my salaried job. Right now, that means I need to pick up about $1500 a month in business.
Until then, our family will need to make changes to our spending habits and stick to a strict budget. That’s the trade-off, I’m finding. I could go back to a salaried job and our family could spend more, or we can cut back on unnecessary spending and maintain my sanity.
It’s become apparent that in my boredom with a full-time job, I had poor spending habits. During my lunch breaks, I would run to Target just to give me something to do. And who leaves Target without buying more than they wanted to? Or I’d hop on the Amazon app to get something delivered straight to my door. Not to mention the amount of cash I spent every week on grabbing to-go lunches because I was too stressed and exhausted to carve out time to meal prep. Things are different now.
Time is, quite literally, money. And I don’t have any to waste.
Yesterday, I clocked about 6.5 hours of solid work time (a client call, business marketing, and client writing). The other two hours I had before I picked up my kids from daycare was spent on household/personal tasks — washing a mountain of dishes, getting groceries, and picking up dog poop in the yard.
I felt so accomplished in how I was able to use my time. And today, I’m balancing parenting my kids and working.
If you’re considering a freelancing career, you first need to identify what in life is important to you. If you enjoy having spare cash to spend on whatever, freelancing isn’t going to just hand this to you. It takes a lot of hustling against stiff competitors to get you clients.
But if this sounds exciting to you, and you can live with making cuts to your budget, then it might just be worth it. But only you can make that choice.
Follow Kendra’s journey on Instagram to get more insight into the life of a freelancing parent.