My top 4 tips to gear up for the freelance life

I’m going to hesitate to say “the freelance writing” life and go with “the freelance life” instead.

Here’s why: I’ve never just done freelance writing.

In my freelance life, I’ve certainly done my share of writing for print, broadcast and online publications. I’ve also written several of my own blogs. But I’ve bolstered my freelance writing with other 1099-ish activities like podcasting or house sitting.

Every writer has been a house sitter, pet sitter, dog walker, server, bartender… etc.

Questions? Get in touch with Wichita-based freelance writer, Heather Larson.

My best play for the freelance writing life has been this:

I always have a part-time job.

When I freelanced from 2006-2008, I worked part-time at a radio station in Phoenix. Now it’s 2019, and guess what play I brought out from the playbook? You guessed right — I work part-time at a station again — this time in Wichita.

I currently have two part-time jobs. Last year, it was a full-time and a part-time job. I was working 52 hours a week and that meant one truly long day. I decided to cut back my “day job” hours as a paraprofessional social worker (i.e. sober coach for a treatment center) and work a little extra at the radio station when possible.

There are many benefits to this new lifestyle:

  1. I get coworkers!

This may not seem glamorous to some, but having a “work squad” at two different jobs lifts my spirits immensely. As a sole proprietor, I have no coworkers unless my cats count. This can get lonely.

I ultimately want to join a coworking place, but I have no desire to work too many hours in solitude. Even going to a coffee shop helps. I have a few co-workers to bounce ideas off of, whether it’s for my coaching and Reiki business or my writing business.

2. I’m experiencing less burnout

I started to work less for others and more for myself in December 2018. Since the second this decision was made and my boss approved it, I’ve been living my bliss.

I am fortunate to have bosses who allow me to be me — even encourage me to be my entrepreneurial self.

Feeling less burnt out has made me more productive on the job for others as well as when I am working for me. I’ve signed up for two badge courses at Wichita State University this semester (during fall, I suffered through one that really enjoyed but I was exhausted mentally). I’m also doing more of what I enjoy like yoga as well as what I need to do, like cleaning/organizing.

When burnt out, I was doing neither. I’m two months into this new life and I am (finally) freshening up this blog, for instance. There’s a new energy to my life and I love it!

There was no way I could run my coaching business along with a full-time job and a part-time job. Now I work around 42 hours a week total for others and daily for myself. The longer I’ve been doing this, the more energy I have to put into my own business.

3. Staying with an employer, even part-time, is awesome for career goals

In addition to having a place to report to five days a week and awesome coworkers, keeping an employer — even for the time being — is beneficial for career goals.

I still get sent to trainings, which keeps my skills current. I attended a Workforce Center training last month that strengthened my resume-writing skills. I can use that as a freelancer as I do help write/edit resumes once in a while. It’s also useful to me as a career coach. It’s amazing how all my careers and interests intersect like this over time!

4. The obvious biweekly paycheck

This is the big one and it’s obvious. Friends tell me all the time they are proud of me for turning back to a freelance/part-time life as I work to get my business off the ground. I did it to find more freedom and I am already feeling it!

After friends tell me how proud they are, they tell me how terrified they are to do the same thing. I truly wanted to make “enough” last year to be able to quit working for others entirely this year. Then I realized the cost was too high to keep going that way. I had to change course because I was tired, cranky, and constantly getting sick.

Everyone wants economic security. I do too! I realized if prosperity is what I really want in the long-term, this is the way that will work for me. This is the path to go down where I know I won’t quit. I will try anything to succeed, I will work at odd hours, and I will do what it takes. I can do that for me & my business.

I won’t do that for others.

The accomplishments and monetary rewards are mine. My hard work doesn’t go to buy the flashy cars of upper management. I am willing to make sacrifices to ensure my success. For instance, I go without things like Netflix so that I can put more money into making my business a success. I keep my bills low so I am not trapped in a job working for others for crap I don’t need.

I know it will pay off because I know I won’t give up.

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