4 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Freelancer AND a Mom
There’s nothing quite so gratifying as quitting the tedious grind of the nine-to-five and taking your career (and life) into your own hands as a freelancer. If you feel creatively stifled and intellectually imprisoned by a boring day job and wish you could make a living doing something you love on your own terms, or if you’re a stay at home Mom looking to make a little extra money in your (admittedly sparse) free time, freelancing can be a helping hand to lift you out of the doldrums. But the balance can be hard to achieve when you have little mouths to feed and a whole host of parental duties and responsibilities.
If you know people who freelance they’ll likely extol its virtues and tell you that you should pursue your freelance dream… And they’re right! The thing is, there are a few things they probably won’t tell you.
Don’t quit your day job… Straight away
As a freelancer, you’ll be dependent on cultivating and expanding a portfolio of different clients who will keep you afloat with work and these relationships take time to build. Quitting your day job to go freelance could be a great idea, but your risks rise exponentially if it’s your only source of income. A far safer bet is to establish your online presence, do whatever work you can in your free time whenever you’re at your most creatively fecund, and slowly build your portfolio of work along with your client base.
Your most important skill is confidence
Belief in your abilities will be your single most marketable quality. It’s what will make clients entrust their money and resources to you, and ensure that they feel that they’re getting a good deal. For nascent freelancers this can be tricky as they’re still growing in confidence and feel that they could be exposed as talentless frauds at any moment. Believe in your skills, knowledge and abilities and as you grow in experience you’ll be more and more desirable. It’s also important not to undersell yourself in terms of your fee. Many newbies feel that they can give themselves a competitive edge by undercutting the competition on price but this can be counterproductive. Clients are likely to associate cost with worth, and you’re worth more than that.
You have to be crazy disciplined
This might seem like a no-brainer, but managing your freelancing commitments alongside your parental commitments is a tricky line to walk. The key to success lies in establishing (and sticking to) set working hours and either setting up a home office or working away from home. You can’t afford to change diapers in the middle of a conference calls or take half an hour to fold the laundry with a looming deadline staring you in the face. It’s also important to allow yourself time to rest. Tempting as it may be to allot yourself a 14 hour day to get work done, your output after a few hours is unlikely to be your best work.
Tax can be a nightmare if you don’t keep on top of it
Firstly, hiring a tax lawyer and accountant will save you more money than it costs and can ensure that you’re not overspending on tax. Secondly, it’s vitally important to keep on your records, logging your income and business expenditure on a weekly (or at the very least monthly) basis. Otherwise you could find yourself in the midst of a tax nightmare come April.
Getting paid can be a job in and of itself
After your work is complete and your invoices have been sent it can take time to get paid. A long time. Some clients are great at keeping on top of their payments, some are not. You don’t want to alienate a client but you need to get paid to feed your family so learning how to chase up payments without badgering clients is an important skill.
What do you wish you knew before you left your job, OR what do you want to ensure you know before you do?