Five things I’ve learned as a freelancer

I’ve been working as a freelancer for about three months now. Officially three months. Pulling the trigger took a years worth of prep. (That blog post will come later.) But, I have learned a lot and wanted to share it all with you since my freelance blog posts are getting a lot of traction. After I posted my first freelance income report, I was overwhelmed with calls, messages, and emails from people who wanted to do the same thing. (And I mean overwhelmed in a good way.) I am so happy to guide other people in hopes of getting them where they want to be. That was the whole purpose of posting it! Another future blog post: How to get started freelancing. (Click here to read my why.) Okay, enough about what I’ll blog about later. These are the things I’ve learned in my first three months of freelancing/building a business. I have to be honest, some of these really surprised me.

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1. I don’t have more time. I’m working more hours than I ever have before. I go from about 9am-midnight with breaks for family time. I know what you’re thinking: If it’s more work, then why do you do it? In the past 10 years, I’ve worked from home before and after actually showing up to work. I think most people do. If you have a full-time job and don’t work more than eight hours a day, consider yourself lucky because I think that’s rare. I have no problem working 8+ hours a day. I have a problem with someone telling me when and where to do it. Even though I’m working more, I can do my laundry while I’m making things happen professionally and I can take my daughter to her swimming lessons at 4:30pm. Still, I thought I’d have more time and didn’t realize how work working for yourself really is. (I keep telling myself it’s just like this at the beginning.)

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2. Lots of people don’t want to pay me. This is one reason freelancers have a lot going on. People think because you are providing a service, they don’t have to pay you or can pay you next to nothing because they are just using your time and expertise. Newsflash: That’s valuable! True story: I have spent hours talking to potential clients about their business and brand and how I can help them. Then, I spend even more time drawing up a proposal. Once, I was told, “You misunderstood. We don’t have a budget to pay you.” I misunderstood? You found me on a site to pay freelancers, but you don’t want to pay me? No sir, you misunderstood. The second time, from another potential client, it was, “I can’t pay you now, but I will give you stock in the company as payment.” Can I make my mortgage and car payments with stock in your company that has yet to launch? Nope. Buh-Bye. Again, another suggested, “Let me just test you out for a couple months to see how it works.” When I asked what he meant by “test” me out, I got no response. I’m going to assume that meant work for free. Again, I have bills to pay. I’m not a rich do-gooder who does this for the fun of it. (FYI, I only work for free/for pennies for two kinds of people – one that put me through college (hi dad!) and non-profit organizations.) Out of everything that has surprised me in my new career, this is the most disappointing – not because I want to get rich, but because it shows the character of someone when they try to take advantage of a hard working person. We all love a good deal, but come on.

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3. My kids are still in school/daycare full-time. I’ve heard so many “work from home moms” say they work from home so they can be home with their kids. I thought, oh cool – my kids can do half a day instead of a full day since I make my own hours. Not quite. So moms, what kind of work do you do that you can actually get stuff done with kids at home?! If you are working full-time and/or making full-time money while spending time with your kids most of the day at home, please let me know what you do for a living and send me an application because I want to apply for that job! As a freelancer, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I need to work. Really work. I don’t have a guaranteed paycheck being deposited every two weeks. I don’t have sick or vacation days with employees to cover for me either. No work = no money. Unfortunately, I’m not at the point where I can only do four hours of work a day, but that is the goal! Less work for more money is everyone’s dream, but it’s not my reality yet, so in the meantime – my kids are getting a couple extra unanticipated hours of learning, arts & crafts, and friend time.

work-from-home-mom4. Haters will hate. Oh. My. God. There are lots of judgers, doubters, and mean girls out there when you go out on a limb to be your own boss. I don’t know if it’s jealousy, insecurity, immaturity, or just true hate… but jeez! Until you pay my bills or Media Maven has a negative impact on you personally, like Ellen says, my haters are my motivators! I will keep on keeping on and let your hate speak more to what’s wrong with you, not me. But damn, I thought we were grown ladies. Guess not!

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5. I have to do things I don’t want to do. When I decided to freelance, then start my business – I said I’m only doing what I want, when I want. I hate sales, so I didn’t want to do it. Hello?! How am I supposed to get my own clients if I don’t sell myself and my services?! This is a learning experience and involves me getting out of my comfort zone. I have to do things I don’t want to do in order to be successful doing the things I want to do. And yes, I have closed deals in heels… and in my jammies at home 😉

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So, these are five things I’ve learned as a freelancer in three months. Are there any other freelancers/new entrepreneurs who agree? If you’re starting to freelance, what are you experiencing? For more about me and my business Media Maven, click here. …and how cool is #bossbabe?!

About Christina

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I'm a blogger, media specialist, and most importantly... mother of two! I operate my own business, Media Maven, specializing in media relations, video production, writing, blogging, and event & on-air hosting.

14 Comments

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  1. I have SO MUCH RESPECT for you and your journey– you are OWNING this entire process and success is coming out of your ears! 🙂 Or should I say fingertips? LOL… keep up the good work and the blog posts that share your experiences. Love love love reading these.

    Angela Cruz / Reply
  2. Yes it’s a hard balance and you are KILLING IT! But I DO balance to be there when my kids get home and take over from 3-7pm when I’m not working HEAT games. I think my TV work helps though and I only work part time between the blog and my business. I also get up EXTRA early and work from 5-7am to get extra hours in. And work weekends. And nights. I don’t do the traditional 9-5 like you, but we all have to do what’s best for us! BTW …no more FREE ADVICE. So tired of that – yes! Great post!

    Kristen / Reply
  3. Your post is so accurate! I love it. It’s hard when you have a blog and are also trying to freelance. A lot of sites don’t want to pay you or they only want to pay you like $20. If I was going to write an awesome post and not get paid I’d rather put it on my own blog and try to grow my audience and changes for affiliate link income.
    There are certain sites where I feel like it’s worth writing for free or little but that’s only if they have a huge audience and they actually engage with the post helping spotlight my own site.
    Thanks for showing this in the real honest light.
    Good luck!

    Dia / Reply
  4. I think you are doing an amazing job!! Screw the haters! 😉

    Lauren / Reply
  5. Great post. I’m a freelance editor and negotiations can be brutal especially when dealing with high profile clients.

    Nic / Reply
  6. sounds like you’re doing great! keep on plugging away!

    nicole / Reply
  7. Kuddos to you!! I am totally agree with the first one…I don’t have a problem working, but I don’t want to be told when and where…and I’d rather tell someone I”m not available on a Friday, rather then have to “ask permission” to have it off!!

    Aubrey @ 53 Weeks / Reply

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