I’m fairly new to this freelance world, so I don’t have a ton of great advice on working from home like Katie normally does. As a newbie though, I thought I could help with some of the basics. Working from home has been a dream come true for me.
Quitting my day job was hard, but this has given me the chance to earn some extra money while still being home taking care of my girls. I don’t do this full time. In fact, I typically work less than 10 hours a week. It’s enough to keep my mind busy but not too overwhelming. If you are considering this line of work or if you are just getting started yourself, here are two lists of advice on working from home for you.
Advice on Working from Home (the Basics)
First, these are the three most-needed pieces of office equipment you’ll need as a freelancer:
Calendar – It doesn’t really matter what kind of calendar you have. Just make sure you have one. I use a free printables website and print three months at a time. This costs me nothing. I stick a thumbtack in them and presto, I’m organized. On my calendar, I have a couple things: all appointments both daytime and evening and all my deadlines. I put appointments on my work calendar because they have the potential to disrupt my abnormal working hours. I don’t freelance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I freelance when
all the stars align in my house. If I go to write a deadline down and an appointment is already scheduled, I purposely bump up the deadline on my end to make sure there is no conflict.
Desk/Computer/Internet/Phone – I am going to try really hard to not be a smart butt here, but, um, it is going to be really hard to get your work done without these things. The only one I would say is slightly optional would be the desk. A desk is really recommended, though. Having your own workspace, even if you don’t always use it, will help keep you on track, get your head in the game when you need motivation, and keep your kids’ grimy hands from grabbing your tablet or laptop off the couch for the hundredth time. You don’t have to have a landline, but you will want reliable phone service to communicate with clients. Internet will be needed to do the research and a computer of some sort will be required. Freelancers don’t turn in work on loose leaf paper these days.
Quick Access to E-mail (Smartphone not required but highly recommended.) The good thing about being a writer is that a large majority of my time can be spent emailing clients (so I don’t have to fret about the screaming children in the background). But, when they have a question about a piece I wrote or need to change a deadline or are looking for someone to take on extra work, they want to be able to reach me. Listen, we all have lives. If I know I’ll be on vacation or if it’s in the evening or on a weekend, they understand that my responses won’t be that quick. But if it’s a Tuesday at 11 a.m., this is the working day. My iPhone stays on my desk with the ringer on. If I hear an email alert, it takes me mere seconds to check to see if it is work related and I can quickly get back to my kids.
Advice on Working from Home (for Parents, Specifically)
Second, since we are all parents here, there are often situational things many people don’t think about before taking on freelance work. So here are my top picks for objective things you’ll need and a little more parent-specific advice on working from home:
Babysitting Support – I predict that in the future, I will be able to trust my kids to play nicely on the swingset, run around the backyard, toss the Frisbee and kick the soccer ball without needing my eye on every move. It’s a lovely picture, right? That’s not how they play right now. They climb up the ladder and try to dive down the slide. They have no fear of walking right in front of each other swinging. So the idea of sitting outside on a blanket working on my laptop while they play is not quite a reality yet. Instead, I have to find time to work when my kids are cared for. This might mean evenings with my husband home, during nap times, or getting up early/staying up late when they are in bed. For a more full-time freelancer, this might mean hiring a nanny or sending your children to daycare. If you agree to a work project, though, you need to follow through. You can’t keep telling your clients that things with the kids came up.
Reliable Schedule – For the most part, the best part of being a freelance writer is that I can work on my terms. I can write on the weekends if I want to or take them off if I want to. I can turn down work right before a vacation. I can work nights or early mornings or right smack in the middle of nap time. BUT, I do make sure my clients have a general idea of when I do my writing so if they need something last minute, they know my availability. If you are all over the place, it makes it hard to be counted on.
Independent Kids – If your little ones need you to rock them to sleep for hours every night or only take naps cuddled on the couch next to you, that may be an issue. Right now, I work when my youngest two are napping and my oldest is at school. Over the summer, I had to work when my oldest was with me. She’s 4. That’s hard. She is very independent, though. I could set her up with an art project or puzzles a couple days a week and she would happily play while I got my work done. Summer breaks, holidays and other schedule changes are all things you’ll want to consider in your planning.
Every day is different for me. Sometimes I have deadlines and everyone is screaming and all I want to do is cry. Not everything about working freelance is green grass and roses. So I set myself up for achievement rather than failure by staying organized, playing tricks on my brain and preparing for the kids to not agree with my schedule. I hope that as I become more familiar with this territory I can come back and give you more tips and advice on working from home, but for now, these should help get you where you’re going.
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