So, before I answer the top 2 questions my mom asked me about freelancing, there are a few things you should know.
We don’t have a normal mother-daughter relationship. It isn’t warm and fuzzy. By and large, it never has been. I’ve been the parent since I was a teenager until a few years ago…and not because I wanted to be. I decided more recently that I’d have little to do with her other than making sure she was alive, fed, and had a roof over her head (and that my stepfather was well because he’s a good guy). I won’t get into the specifics because this isn’t about bashing anyone. I try to check in here and there. They came for Thanksgiving. I checked in on them after that when no one had heard from them and the management where they lived called the police for a welfare check and some crossed wires thought that she said she had COVID and she later denied ever saying that (she does a lot of denial).
However, I’m sure her top 2 questions about freelancing are questions that a lot of freelancers are asked. So, as a Top Rated Plus freelancer on Upwork, I might as well answer them!
If You’re a Freelancer, Aren’t You Really Just Unemployed?
No, I wasn’t just unemployed seven years ago just starting out and that certainly isn’t the case now. Of course, I also don’t refer to what I do as freelancing and I don’t refer to myself as a freelancer, with the exception of being listed on Upwork.
When I started doing this eight years ago (full-time, seven years ago), I still had two other jobs. I considered myself a freelancer at that time because I had traditional work. Of course, people are free to refer to themselves however they wish. Having traditional employment at the same time I started my business allowed me to start with lower rates because I could still pay my bills. I felt that by offering a lower hourly rate, it made it more likely for someone to take a chance on hiring me on an hourly basis (because I had NO IDEA what to charge for a flat rate project. My first flat rate project was $15…but it only took me an hour…live and learn, y’all….but I got that five star rating).
Freelancer and freelancing…those terms seem to be synonymous with “unemployed.” It’s why I do not use them. Oddly, if I tell people I am a freelancer or professional writer or editor, no one believes me. I could give them my shortened Upwork link or my website all day long and it would not matter. It does not seem to matter that people read the internet all day long…news sites, whatever…no one believes you can make money as a writer or editor. I’m sorry – where the fuck do you think the words you read come from?
If you know how to string together a sentence, you can get paid. It doesn’t have to be slave wages. Yet, when I call myself a “Professional Nerd” in my email signature or at any other time, somehow that gains me instant credibility. I don’t even have to explain what I do. It’s kinda like how people don’t understand that “forensic” means law or pertaining to the legal system…they immediately just think “murder” because they’ve watched too many damn episodes of Forensic Files.
Freelancing has little to do with unemployment. Sure, you can be unemployed and decide to “burn the ship.” There are many six-figure freelancers who are a prime example of making this concept work. I am not one of them, but Danny Margulies is an example of making it work. Yet, he is more of an example of how someone who was unemployed decided to launch a business. Because that is what freelancing is…it is a business.
What we do is a business. For most of us, it isn’t a go-between while we wait for a corporate job. Sure, working from home isn’t for everyone. I’ve said that. I know people that hate working from home (even before the pandemic). And that’s okay. You don’t have to like working for yourself. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s okay to return to corporate. However, what is not okay is to presume that just because someone takes up the freelance mantle means that we are eternally unemployed. We aren’t. In fact, we have more job security. You can’t fucking fire yourself.
Does Freelancing Mean You Can Just Do It Later?
In theory, sure. I’ve had shit come up that’s caused me to put things off. Hell, I had COVID-19. No, I wasn’t and am not an anti-masker. Someone brought their coitus-trophy to an event. Their kid was sick with “just strep.” I wasn’t even at the fucking event. My husband got sick first. They called with the, “Oh, yeah, so sorry…strep negative…COVID positive.” My husband was over it in NO TIME. Thankfully, Uriel never got sick. Hashtag Team Blessed. I lost sense of smell, sense of taste, was sick for three weeks (although was only COVID positive for like…a week), had a migraine for three weeks, and my neurologist thinks I had a brain infection. I had a relapse of chronic fatigue. The. pits. Most of my clients are long-term. Not everyone is an Upwork client so I wasn’t violating terms of service by having my husband work on my non-Upwork client projects. And, yes, all of my non-Upwork clients knew he was pitching in.
I’ve worked while I’ve had the flu, while Uriel and I both had a flu/strep combo in 2020 (that was fun), while my mom was in the hospital and I was there, while my stepdad was in the hospital and I was there…I mean, you name it and I worked. I worked some weird fucking hours.
If you have littles or kids with special needs or you are a caretaker of some kind, I understand that life happens. I am a prime fucking example that life happens. As much as humanly possible, especially when you are first starting out, it is important to make sure that your clients don’t feel the pinch of your life. Remember that you are laying the foundation to build a thriving business.
Related: A Day in the Life…
The problem about the “do it later” mentality for most people is that procrastination happens and later never comes. You end up pressed for time. You either do a fantastically shittastic job that drives your clients away and get one star or no stars on Upwork, Fiverr, or whatever platform you’re on, or you don’t get the job done at all. See the problem with that? And I’m not necessarily talking about because of that one time your kid was up sick all night, either. Most of us who worked corporate and had sick kids on top of it know that the show must go on. I’m talking about the “do it later because freedom” mentality. Then you get overwhelmed because everything starts piling up. Don’t do that to yourself. Create some kind of schedule and stick to it.
That’s the kind of thing that really ends up pissing off your family who thinks you should do everything for them (*cough cough* mom *cough cough*) because they seem to think you can somehow do everything for them all day and then work all night. It’s unrealistic. You’re the only you that you have. Don’t forget that.