The Truth About Freelancing (And How You Can Survive It)

You’re a lone island in a sea of freelancers. Everyone’s chasing their own potential clients. Marketing online and off. Writing. Editing. Sending invoices, writing up contracts.

You’ve Been Going It Alone

There’s little time for collaborating. And even less time for socializing - or human networking.

You’ve been doing it all alone all this time and it’s frustrating. You see big names in freelancing like Linda Formichelli (Check out her book "Get Unstuck!"- It's an awesome resource for freelancers) making a great go of it and you know you can do it, too. But, you’re just not there yet.

You struggle with finding that balance between home, life, and career that will make you successful - at all of them.

There’s no other way, but alone, is there?

That’s the Way It’s Always Been

That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Writers have always been solitary creatures. After all, as writers, we live in our heads, right?

We work ridiculous hours. Writing when everyone else is sleeping. Trying to put healthy food on the table for our families without falling back on the convenience crap. Cleaning whenever we can. Trying to stay caught up on laundry. And drowning each day in our to-do lists.

I don’t know about you, but I, myself, am a bit of a hard-head. I’ve always had this compulsion to do everything alone. “The house needs moving? Sure!! I’ll pick it up and move it myself tomorrow.” Yeah. Well, that’s the way I thought. I shouldn’t HAVE to ask for help, right?

How many jobs do you add to your to-do list that you could pass off to someone else, but don’t? {Click to Tweet!}

Is it necessary that you do all the laundry? Do you have to be the only one cooking? How many times have you sat and cried because you were just overloaded.

No man is an island.

Seek Support

Once I learned that asking for help wasn’t admitting weakness, I was ok. Once I understood that having a team meant that I’m more, not less, things changed.

Just because we’re hardwired for solitude or working alone, doesn’t mean that things have to always be done that way. Having someone to help you with anything that you can get help with makes you a stronger entrepreneur and a better freelancer.

Knowing when and how to get help makes you a freelancing entrepreneur who knows what it takes to succeed.

Support doesn’t always come in the form of help, either. Sometimes you just need a sounding board or human to talk to. Sometimes, you don’t or can’t get help, so support is your second best option.

Having someone to listen to you when you need to vent because your to-do list is bigger than you are alleviates stress and frustration so you can move on to the client or house work in front of you. Once your head is clear of the negativity or aggravation, you can focus and attack instead of feeling attacked.

Either way, whether you hire hands to help or seek shoulders to soak (ok, guys, maybe you don’t cry, but you need to spill it sometimes, too), freelancers need support.

Find the Support You Need

Get the help you need and be the ROCKSTAR you are.

At Home:

1. Babysitting: I refused to take our kids to daycare (damn hard-headedness). But a friend of the family needed work, so I took it as an opportunity to help and enlisted her help as a sitter. I stayed in the kitchen and worked while she played with the kids, took them outside, or even helped them do “learning pages” (read: Mama’s homework). She didn’t charge as much as a daycare and I limited the help to the days I needed it the most to maximize my money.

Action: Find a kid in your neighborhood or from one of the organizations you belong to and hire them to come and play with your kids while you work once or twice a week to give you a small break to work your hardest jobs.

2. Cooking: With chaotic stress levels, crazy assignments, and a demanding career, sometimes I just can’t get dinner on the table in time. That’s where my hubby comes in. In our house, it’s not his job and I don’t let him do it often, but when there’s work to be done, I’ll step aside and let him help.

Action: Planning ahead will make sure that everyone knows what’s on the menu, so there’s less effort to be put forth - and less complaints. :)

3. Cleaning: If your babies are old enough, give them a chore chart and a weekly assignment of keeping things picked up, their rooms clean and even helping clear tables or load and unload the dishwasher. The point is, it doesn’t all have to sit on your shoulders.

Action: Create a cleaning schedule and rotate everyone’s responsibilities. Choose a reward for the end of the week and always, always say thank you for working so hard to help our family!

Freelancing:

1. Taxes: I refuse to do my taxes myself. I have never and I will never. It costs more than I think it should, but that’s an area where I don’t want to take a chance. Unless you were an accountant, leave the math to someone who knows it and don’t waste your time, effort or energy on something you shouldn’t.

Action: Hire a local business accountant and go look for the cheapest route here...this is your future and your money you’re working with here.

2. Work you don’t do: If you’re a writer, hire out your editing and graphics. Don’t waste time on things that takes you forever, unless you’re David Wright and have the magical powers to throw together an AWESOME ebook cover in, like, 10 minutes, then you’re wasting time that you should be doing client work.

Action: Check Elance and Fiverr for more affordable help. Check your network, maybe you can partner with other freelancers and can work deals with each other. Hire college kids who are looking to make extra money, they often work fairly cheap.

3. Website Help: Your website will need to evolve just like you. And making changes takes time and energy. And if you don’t know coding or graphics, it doesn’t make sense to waste your time trying to do something others are trained to do. How many times have you seen those awesome sites and wished YOURS looked like that? That’s why you need a setup that’s complete...don’t take away any more time from your freelancing, get help and go pro.

Action: OutstandingSETUP has a rockin’, well, setup. For $20/month, they build, host, and support your site for you. They have super resources for making tweaks and changes fast and easy.

4. Social Media: How many days have you ignored your social media channels because you just don’t have the time to tend to it? Did you notice how your Facebook insights plummeted from your being absent? Social media is a monster that constantly needs feeding. Once I got my hands on the formula to bulk schedule in Hootsuite, I JUMPED on that monthly pro fee. It’s so worth it not to have to sweat social media every day.

Action: Get Hootsuite Pro and knock out your social media once a week. OR hire a virtual assistant or college student looking for work to schedule your social media for you.

All of these tips helped make freelancing and having a good life possible, but the one thing that tops all of them? The network that I’ve formed with other freelancers to help me get through it all. Having people listen to us that know what we do and how frayed we sometimes feel turns frustration into patience. So, if you take NO other lesson away from this, it’s this: Be human. Humans need to connect. We’re social creatures, so nurture that side of you and you’ll find your natural flow so you succeed.

So what’s the truth about freelancing? It’s hard. Really hard. And you can’t do it all and do it alone.

How strong is your network? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading and have an awesome week! Tania

PS Don’t forget to sign up for the Fit Freelancer emails to help you ace freelancing and life, so you can ace it all! I send out emails once a week and only if I have something that I know will help you grow! Zero spam and zero time wasting:)