Making It All Work as a Freelancer
I like to experiment and try out new ways of working and living, and when I come up with an idea, I tend to act on it right away. That means that I’m often changing the way I think, and that something I was gung-ho on a week ago might have fallen off the radar today. When something works, I use it. But if it stops working, or I figure out a better way to reach the same goal, I make a change.
For example, for years I followed the philosophy that it’s better to earn more money when you need it rather than cut down on your spending. As freelancers our earning potential is theoretically limitless (since there’s no boss putting a cap on our income), but there’s a point where slashing your budget bottoms out and you can’t cut any more. So for years I would add various activities and things to my life and say, “I’ll just earn more to cover it!” An outside office. Personal training. Daycare. Cable (when we watch only one TV show).
Then, about a month ago, I had a session with my life coach Kristin Taliaferro and was complaining about how stressed out I felt. Don’t get me wrong: I work part-time hours and always manage to cover our bills, but I put a ton of pressure on myself as a business owner. Kristin said, “You know, every time we have a session you’re looking for new projects and new challenges. Have you ever thought about cutting down on your expenses instead so you don’t have to hustle so much?”
I felt immediately that she was right. I’m Type-A when it comes to work but at the same time I have an anxiety disorder — not a good combo. Doing less and having less on my mind would help me chill more. Within a few days my husband and I had taken our son out of his ultra-expensive daycare and cancelled the cable. I quit personal training, and stopped renting the rent-by-the-hour office space I used when I needed time and space to get work done (which was costing me about $200 per month). Like I said — when I get an idea I like to take action right away!
With all the cuts, we’re saving over $13,000 per year. I did the math: That’s maybe two or three writing assignments, five Premium e-course students, or eight 1-hour mentoring sessions per month that I don’t have to drum up and manage. That’s 1,300 copies of my e-book Get Unstuck that I don’t have to work to sell every year.
Of course, there are trade-offs: My husband and I now juggle childcare duties depending on who has work when. I’ve been working out with weights at home in lieu of training. (So far, so good.) And when I need a quiet place to work, I’ve been heading to the reading nook in our bedroom or to the local bookstore instead of the rented office space.
But then, there are the advantages: Two mornings a week I get to spend time with our son at a friend’s house, where we plan activities like baking, singing songs, and making playdough. I learned enough from four years of personal training to create a fun routine I can do at home. And did I mention how nice it feels not to have to hustle quite so much?
If you’re ever reading old entries on this blog and wondering why I said X when I now clearly do Y, it’s because, as I mentioned, I’m always experimenting. I learn a lot as I go through this freelancing journey, and I’m always trying to share what’s working for me right now. As a freelancer — an entrepreneur, a business owner — you have the freedom to choose your own path, and to correct course along the way. Take to heart the advice you read here (and on other blogs, and in books and magazines) that resonates with you, and ditch the tips that don’t work for your lifestyle or temperament. Isn’t that what being a freelancer is all about? [lf]