Once upon a time, there was the hum-drum office space, where people would gather from far and near, take to their desks and work. Then came the internet. Soon after, forward-thinking companies like Apple and Google formed huge corporate community workspaces. Then came social media. Soon after that, the “startup” appeared on the scene, mirroring the corporate workforce, but fusing into a smaller network of guerrilla entrepreneurs. [Read more…]
Thanks to technology, a physical office is no longer necessary for many occupations. Cloud-based communication apps, such as Slack and Basecamp, allow collaboration across the globe. Remote teams and digital offices offer many benefits for both employees and employers. Workers aren’t stuck commuting to and from one location every day. Additionally, companies can hire from a global pool with reduced overhead. If you’re ready for a positive change, a work from home set-up could be ideal for you. More so, you may want to freelance on the side and then transition to working from home full-time. [Read more…]
The freelance lifestyle is envied by those who work a traditional nine to five job, but it is rife with myths and misconceptions. In this post, we look at the realities of the freelance lifestyle.
The idea for this post came to me when I got a Google Calendar notification that it was my “last day” at my former company. That was almost a decade ago that I dove into freelancing full-time.
For some reason, I haven’t gotten around to deleting that entry. I suppose it serves as a reminder to take a step back and do think about what has happened between then and now.
Today, the question I have is whether I am rocking the freelance lifestyle or if I’m merely getting by – and I pose the same question to you.Are You Rocking the Freelance Lifestyle or Are You Merely Getting By? Click To Tweet
Working at home is the dream setup to make money. However, there is a discrepancy between perception and reality.
Anyone who has not had the chance to work at home would, in all likelihood, give an arm and a leg to leave his day job. For many people, working at home is the dream. You don’t have to get up early. You don’t have to brave the traffic. You don’t even have to dress up.
Yes, those things are true, but only to a certain degree. The dream can be real and lived, but there are things that will pull your head down from the clouds in a flash.
At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding what working at home really entails. [Read more…]
We’re no strangers to stress, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that the stress levels of freelancers may be higher than many employees. On top of getting new clients, keeping old ones, taking care of the family, and making sure your business stays healthy, it’s understandable that freelance writers (could) go nuts.
Then there are the times when there is too much work to handle, but you don’t want to go back on your word and not deliver. There are solutions, yes, but in the long run, the stress can build up to toxic levels. You either lose clients because of poor work, or you get sick and lose clients anyway.
They say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and I am the first to agree with this. Sometimes, though, we have to call it a day and give ourselves a break.
That’s when it’s better to go de-stress when the going gets tough – instead of playing macho. It doesn’t mean we’re wusses. It just means we’re human, and we’ve got limits.
Easy ways to de-stress
So you “don’t have enough time” to stop work, but you know you have to let some of that stress go. Here are easy, simple, and 100 percent guaranteed ways to de-stress (depending on your personality, of course).
Retail therapy has this negative connotation for some people, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you think about it, you probably have your own version of retail therapy. While some may like shopping for clothes and shoes, others feel like they’re in heaven when buying books.
You don’t even have to leave the house or spend more than you have to if you visit sites like ChameleonJohn which offer discounts and promos from a wide array of stores. Personally, though, I’d get coupons for bookstores and get my bum off my chair and spend an hour or so at the bookstore breathing in the aroma of books. I have a feeling you’re with me on this.
As with retail therapy, pampering takes on different forms for each of us. I like to think that for me, pampering involves the body, mind, and spirit. This means spa time, massages as often as I can afford, and activities such as yoga, which is not only good exercise but also excellent in regaining focus and balance.
Pampering yourself does not need to take up a lot of time and money. Aside from what I mentioned above, think about the little things that can help you feel good – and thus de-stress even if only in little bits.
When was the last time you had your hair cut/done?
When was the last time you went out with friends for a glass (or two?) of wine without worrying about work?
When was the last time you went to the park and just sat there enjoying the outdoors?
Adrenaline Rush from Outdoor Activities
For adrenaline junkies, you know what you have to do to de-stress. Go out there and jump off a bridge (attached to a bungee cord, of course). If you can afford an adventure experience and there’s a service offering that near you, then splurge a little and enjoy the endorphins that will blow all that stress away.
The three ways to de-stress I’ve mentioned cover a lot of ground. The list is biased based on my own experiences, so why don’t you share your own ways to de-stress? I’d love to hear some ideas, and I’m sure we could all get some inspiration from each other.
Personal issues play a huge role in the performance of a worker. Whether you sit behind a desk at an office or you work at home, there will always be personal issues of some sort. Some of them may be minor and easy to dismiss. Others may have a more draining effect.
Whatever the case may be, there is one thing that most employers and clients agree on: personal issues should not affect your work.
They should be left at home once you step out the door; but what about freelance writers? How do you separate personal issues and work when you work from home?
It’s a tricky problem, but let’s take a look at specific issues, how they can affect your work, and how you can fix them.
If you’re married or have a partner, relationship problems are likely to occur. When these things happen, it can be very difficult to focus on your work. Your mind would probably be racing with thoughts – a mixture of anger, frustration, and hurt. Obviously, you don’t want these thoughts, as your writing will definitely suffer.
- If your partner works at home too, go out and find another place to work for the day. That will physically distance yourself from the problem and help you focus on work.
- If you can stay at home and continue working, give yourself a break every now and then. During these breaks, allow yourself to dwell on the issue and think of how to solve it. Once the break is over, only focus on work. Don’t allow your mind to wander back to your problems. The same thing applies if your problem is as serious as getting a divorce or separation. Deal with the problem at specific times, but keep a tight rein on your thoughts while working.
This is one area where work-at-home people have the advantage. For people who have to physically travel to work, having to stay at home when they’re sick is a bigger problem because their boss may not be happy about it. Then there is the fact that their sick days might get used up.
For remote workers, you have other options:
- Let your client/s know about the situation. This is essential if you have a deadline. More often than not, clients who work with freelancers are understanding in this matter.
- Allow yourself some hours “off”. If you have no pressing deadlines, you have the option to not work while you’re feeling bad. Don’t push yourself.
If remote workers have an advantage with regard to health problems, they are more likely to have financial issues. The degree of uncertainty for freelancers is higher, simply because they do not receive a fixed salary every month; so there are months in which money flows in, and there are lean months.
The fix: Plan, budget, and have savings. When you have a lot of work, and a lot of money comes in, set aside as much as you can for those lean months. When the lean months come, you also can employ money-saving measures to make it through. By doing this, your work shouldn’t be affected by financial issues when you don’t have as much earnings for a certain period.
What other personal issues do you/have you encountered as a freelance writer? How do/did you deal with them?
In all the years (almost a decade) I’ve been freelancing, I think I have taken on every possible gig out there – from content writing to product description writing to blogging to magazine writing to ad writing to coordinating/managing other freelancers. I’d like to say I have had my fair share of experience, and lately, I’ve been interacting with some people who hire freelancers.
Sad to say, it seems that a common thread in the different conversations I have had is that freelancers are not always the best people to work with. Being a freelancer myself, those conversations made me think about bad freelancer habits. [Read more…]
I’m not a morning person. I never was, and I don’t think I’ll ever be. I do realize, however, that I need to work on creating – and maintaining – habits that will help me make the most of my day. While it used to be that I could work till the wee hours of the morning, it’s simply not possible for me these days. As such, I need to turn in earlier at night and try to make as early a start as possible and hit the ground running. I need to start my day on a strong note so that I can actually feel fulfilled and relax at the end of the day.
If you also struggle, here are some tips that can help you start your day on a strong note.
Don’t jump out of bed.
If it’s possible at all, don’t get out of bed the moment you open your eyes. Instead, stay there for a while, sitting down or doing some stretching. This will ease you into waking up without rudely shaking the cobwebs of sleep away from your brain.
I do this for 10-15 minutes, and by the time I go downstairs to make coffee, I don’t feel too sluggish anymore.
Or at least sit in silence for 10-15 minutes. This is different from sitting in bed as you ease out of sleep. If you have a patio or a garden, sitting there in silence will do you a world of good. Take the time to psych yourself up for the day ahead.
I used to NOT eat breakfast. My stomach just wasn’t used to having food early in the morning. Since I had serious health issues last year, though, I have had to eat breakfast – something more than coffee, that is. Surprisingly (for me, at least), having two slices of toast with a bit of butter and jam for breakfast works really well for me! Not only does it help me wake up even more, it also has become a signal to my brain that it’s time to get ready for work.
Start with the task you dread the most.
This is a common piece of advice, although it’s usually phrased as “deal with the most difficult task first”. The reason I used “dread” is that, for me, sometimes the task I don’t look forward to is not the most difficult one. In a sense, though, because I dread the task, it ends up being difficult to complete.
The trick is to get this out of the way first thing in the morning. Once this is done, then I get in the zone and everything seems so much easier.
I realize these tips may not work for everyone, and some of you may not even need them (especially if you’re a morning person who has no problems getting started every day). If you’re looking for new habits to form, though, why not give these a try?
And, if you have some of your own tips that work for you, do share them in the comments!
Is it organization that you need help with? Here are the best software and apps to keep freelancers organized.
In order to encourage the freelancer writers in this community, I like to keep the tone light and positive. Though I don’t take the “in your face” approach to blogging, I’ll agree that there are plenty of times when freelance writes need to have the truth laid out for them in order to view all sides of the picture. With that in mind, I’d like to discuss some of the things that aren’t so pleasant and hopefully inspire struggling freelancers to re-evaluate their career choices and goals.
To be perfectly blunt, there are times freelance writers need a wake up call. If they’re struggling all day, every day, and no money is coming in, there’s something wrong. This doesn’t always mean they’re not in the right career, but oftentimes it does.
Let’s explore some of the reasons freelancers may want to reconsider their career choice, or, at the very least, come up with a new business or marketing plan. Most of us chose freelancing to have a positive experience, if that’s not happening some self and business evaluation is necessary. Struggling freelance writers would do well to explore the reasons behind their lack of success and decide what they’re going to do about it.
Here are a few situations when freelance writers need to rethink their strategy – and maybe even their career choice.
When they’ve been doing this for years and still earning $5 an hour
Simply put, freelancers need to profit from their work. Most of us think it’s nonsensical to put in a full day’s work and only receive enough in return to pay the bare minimum bills, if that. Indeed, in the “real world” we expect cost of living increases and the ability to put at least a little bit into savings. If you’re trying to make a living as a freelance writer but only barely earning pocket change, you need to rethink your earning strategy. Some writers feel the flexibility and work at home lifestyle are perks that make up for extremely low pay. Consider that eight hours of work is eight hours of work -regardless of whether you’re home or in an office. Your time is worth something. In order for our clients to value our time, WE need to value our time. The beautiful thing about freelance writing is that we don’t have an employer telling us how much we can earn, or how much of an increase we may (or may not) receive. We make our own rules, and that includes the amount we wish to receive per gig.
Wake up call: You’re not earning enough money…why is this? Is it because you’re not choosing the right kinds of clients or setting the right amount for your rates? As freelancers we should always make the choices that are best for us and our situations. However, if your freelance writing lifestyle isn’t contributing to a better situation, you need to analyze why. Sometimes it’s a simple as raising your rates, other times, it’s because you’re only focusing on entry level opportunities. Take a deep breath and make the changes that will enable your bank account to grow with your career. This can include a client overhaul, a new specialty, a new business plan and especially, a raise in rates.
When they’re receiving nothing but rejection
Nothing is more frustrating and disheartening than rejection. Usually our stock answer to freelance writers regarding rejection is to consider themselves in good company and remember it’s a way of life for this career. However, we can learn a lot from rejection. Sometimes an editor will add a useful note to a rejection letter telling us why we’re not a good fit and offering tips for submitting or applying again. Sometimes a second pair of eyes on our cover letters and writing samples tell us what we need to know too. When we receive rejection every time we apply and absolutely no one is biting, it might be more than a typo or a bad fit. I’m not one to tell people to give up, but no gigs after five years of trying might be telling you something.
Wake up call: If no one wants to hire you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you might not be a very good writer, but that might well be the case. I know writers who have applied to hundreds of jobs over several years and only find work paying small residual change for places without a strict acceptance policy. If this is you, consider whether or not you’re cut out for writing, or if this is the result you’re looking to achieve. If you belong to a writing community, ask trusted members to critique some of your best writing. I know it’s hard to hear criticism, but it’s often necessary in order to know what we’re doing wrong (and right.)
When all their spare time is spent working
There are two main reasons writers spend all day working. The first is because they love what they do and lose track of time. The other is that they’re trying to earn enough to make ends meet and the only way to do that is work 15 hours a day.. .and even that’s not enough. So now we have a problem, we work at home in order to have freedom, but we’re chained to our desks 80 hours a week. Is it worth it?
Wake up call: If you’re working all day because you want to earn $60,000 a year, you may want to rethink your approach. It’s one thing to work four to eight hours each day to earn that much, it’s another to spend every waking hour with low paying gigs in order to pay the bills. It’s time to work smarter not harder. Instead of taking a $7 project, find a similar project paying, say $30. Now you’re earning quadruple the rate and you can reach your goal income in less time. Every six months to a year, reassess your situation and see if you need to increase your rates again.
When they’re not happy
Damn it, it’s not enough to be “boss free.” Your happiness counts for something too. If you hate your job and hate writing, why are you doing it? It’s funny how we fantasize about leaving our office jobs but we’re much more hesitant to leave a work at home lifestyle because we don’t want to give up the flexibility. To be honest, I had more time when I worked in an office job because I left my job at 5:00 each day and didn’t go near it on the weekends.
Wake up call: Um, hello? When did your happiness become so insignificant? If you’re not enjoying yourself, explore why. Is it a particular client? Decide whether or not he’s replaceable. Is it because you don’t enjoy writing? Decide whether or not this is the career for you or consider other types of work from home opportunities. Is it because you’re lonely? Make sure to find time for friends and family. Go to lunch with “the girls” or have a movie night with your friends.
Understanding the Reasons Behind Your Lack of Success
Maybe other freelance writers can weigh in her too, but for me examining why I’m not a success always helps me to achieve success. Every now and then when I have a dry period of potential clients aren’t so receptive to my queries, I do a little analysis to see why. I go over my writing samples, cover letters and resume. Every now and then things need updating, you know?
Something else I learned is that a second set of eyes helps us to see what we’re missing. Understanding the reasons behind our lack of success will help us to determine whether or not we’re doing the right thing or going about things the right way. The important thing to remember is you’re not a failure if you decide this life isn’t for you.
We’re freelancers because we want to enjoy life. When we’re not happy or not successful we’re not enjoying anything.
What are some of the wake up calls you received regarding freelance writing? What did they tell you and what action did you take next?
Today’s topic for discussion at the Freelance Writing Jobs Facebook Group is how our family, friends and neighbors perceive us. It’s interesting because no matter how hard we work, there are some who feel that because we have no regular employer, we don’t actually have a job. Often times, having flexibility sometimes means people doubt you work very hard. It also means some folks feel you’re available any time of the day or night.
I remember receiving a very innocent email from my son’s teacher asking me to come in and help with a classroom event because she knows I’m always home and available to help. Part of me is happy to be available to participate in school when I’m needed because that’s very important. However, part of me also thought, “but wait, just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m always available.”
It’s all in how others perceive us.
My mother worked at home as an instructional designer. She had a flexible schedule but still had a deadline oriented job. She knows exactly what it’s like to work full time from home because she did it herself. On the other hand, my mother in law, knows I do some work at home, but she wonders why I don’t have more time for cleaning. I jokingly ask my husband if he runs a vacuum during his lunch hour and why I should be expected to do the same, but the truth is, when you work at home people don’t understand why you don’t dust every day or why a bed might be unmade from time to time.
It’s how others perceive the work at home lifestyle.
I’m happy to be there to help my son with school work, be a class mom or den mom or just have afternoons in the park. Sometimes though, I wish my flexibility didn’t give certain others the impression that I don’t work at all. I think it’s one of the reasons I keep a schedule. Having set “office hours” helps others to respect my time more. Still, there are some who can’t grasp the difference between “stay at home” and “work at home.”
What are your thoughts on freelancing and how others perceive us? Is this ever an issue for you?