By far the most challenging question I get asked on a regular basis is “So, what do you do?” I tell people I’m a “marketing consultant,” and that sort of covers it (or at least keeps people from being confused), but working as a freelancer means I wear a lot of hats.
If you’re not familiar, freelancing is working on a contracted basis. I’m my own boss working with my own clients on various projects, responsible for doing my own taxes and all of that fun stuff. Because of professional connections from college and elsewhere, some of the projects I’m working on now include:
- Business development for a startup
- Data analysis and report writing for a nonprofit real estate organization
- Website development and copywriting for a financial services company
- Social media management for a healthcare nonprofit
- Fundraising strategy for a fundraising consultancy
Now do you see why it’s hard to tell people what I do? Yeah, it’s a little all over the place. So what’s the freelance life like?
No, I do not work in my pajamas from my couch.
A lot of people think that freelancing means you can work from anywhere wearing whatever the heck you want, and technically that’s true. The problem is that working in your pajamas on your couch starts to feel a lot like just hanging out in your pajamas on your couch…and it’s suddenly it’s hard to keep focus. I have a dedicated desk in our apartment that’s my workspace. I don’t sit there unless I’m working, which helps me mentally separate work from leisure since I work from home. I also make it a point to get ready everyday. For me, the act of putting on clothes and shoes and getting ready prepares me for a day of work. Maybe some people can work in their comfy clothes, but I need that mental distinction.
Yes, being a freelancer means I set my own hours.
In a lot of ways, my days can be dictated by client calls and meetings, but I can largely set my own schedule. This has been a humongous blessing in our first year of marriage. I’ve been able to work my schedule around Brandon’s law school schedule, which means I can be there to eat lunch with him, cook dinner, and hang out when Brandon does have some free time. I often end my work day early to cook dinner, and then work late after Brandon goes back to the law school for the evening. I love the flexibility my job offers.
Every day is different.
This might be the best part of my job. I get bored easily, so I love that every day varies. Some days I’m cranking away at a monster Excel spreadsheet of data, other days I’m strategizing brand positioning for a company. I get to be creative and analytical, which is perfect for me because I love both.
From doing this for almost a year, I can tell you that it’s not for everyone. I think in order to be successful you need to be:
- Organized. From making sure your expenses are recorded for tax purposes to keeping an eye on client deadlines, freelancing requires being really organized.
- Motivated. There are some people who just function better when they’re told what to do, which is totally ok! Those people just shouldn’t freelance. Freelancing requires a ton of motivation. Because no one’s keeping you accountable, you have to be able to get yourself out of bed and “to the office” (wherever that is) every day. It’s not easy!
- Able to balance a lot of tasks. Freelancing requires balancing multiple clients and deadlines ALL. THE. TIME. My day often involves bouncing between clients and projects, which is an unpleasant idea for some, but it’s essential. As much as I’d love to be able to hunker down and work on one engagement start to finish, that’s not reality 99.9% of the time.
- Comfortable working alone. I laugh a little as I type this, because I’m not even sure if this is true about myself (yet). As a hardcore extrovert/admittedly a little needy, it was really hard at first to work from home without coworkers. I’ve gotten used to it and am even starting to like it a little, but it’s a hard adjustment and something to consider for anyone who likes working in a team.
So that’s it in a nutshell! Freelancing is challenging and a little stressful at times but in a lot of ways, it was made for me.
Have you ever considered freelancing or have you ever done it? What was it like? Tell me about it!
PS – Shameless plug for my consultancy – contact me if you’re in need of anything marketing or check out my biz site to learn more.