Tag Archives: freelancing

Maintaining a good work/life balance

As a Mum and a Freelancer (in that order) I often struggle to balance the two competing worlds. Like most Freelancers I find that in terms of work it’s either feast or famine, and as a Mum the responsibilities are constant, as is the guilt, but that goes with the territory, whatever I did I’d feel bad, it’s a no win situation.

As a Freelancer I work from home, which means that technically I’m around whenever my family need me. I can do the school run, I can be there when my son is poorly to care for him, I can take time out during the school holidays to spend time with him. I do all of that and more, but it does mean that I also have to put in long hours in the evenings, early in the mornings, or my weekends are spent slaving over a hot laptop while my 9 – 5 husband spends time with our son.

Whilst I can see the benefits of working *for* someone else, for me the benefits of being a Freelancer far outweigh that. Although the work and the hours I put in are never constant, I am able to be more flexible with my time. This means I can create and maintain a good work/life balance, or at least strive to.

My tips for creating and maintaining a good work/life balance are…

  • Protect some time for family, for me 5 – 7pm are family time, where we eat together, talk about our days, have bath-time, read stories and snuggle.
  • Go for a walk. Being stuck at my desk all day is miserable and not why I became a freelancer. Go for a walk round the park, get some fresh air and exercise and take a brain-break. You’ll be more productive after.
  • Accept help – enlist family and friends who don’t mind entertaining your child for a few hours occasionally. My son loves his Grandad and spending time with him is a special thing for them both.
  • Don’t try and multi-task. If you’ve got a few hours of family time, focus on the family.
  • Work smarter, not harder. If you’ve magically got a spare hour to spend working, you can accomplish a lot in that hour, set time limits for tasks and see what you can achieve.
  • Be organised, even if that’s not in your nature. To do lists, a filing system, record keeping however simple will save you time. Having my own workspace has really helped with this.
  • Go to work – some people get dressed for work, or have a pre-work morning routine. I get myself a drink and plonk myself at my desk and get cracking.
  • Family comes first – for me at least. If I need to stay up and work until 3am to catch up then so be it. My son is only young for a finite amount of time and he comes first. Always.
  • Make friends. Freelancing can be a lonely life. Find and nurture a group of like minded fellow freelancers around you, they will save your sanity and sometimes your bacon!

I have found that by having a small circle of freelancing friends they can offer me advice, practical support, contacts and the feeling of having colleagues; we even go on “work nights out”, which is nice. 

I’ve recently discovered Hiive. Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. Hiive is designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries and is an incredibly useful network for freelancers. I have joined and think it’s well worth a look and can help you to balance your work and home life.

I love freelancing, it’s changed my life and my family life for the better. It’s not easy, in fact it’s bloody hard work. Finding the right work life balance is a constantly shifting task. Having an understanding husband is half the battle, but the rewards in terms of quality family time are worth the late nights and early mornings. 

What are your tips for creating a good work-life balance?

work life balance

In association with Hiive.

Freelancers – value yourselves

Hello, my name is Jane and I’m a Freelance Copywriter (amongst other things); I write and people pay me. I use that money to go to shops and buy things like food and clothes, and sometimes bottles of gin. I also lavish my meagre funds on heating, electricity, water and the endless things school asks me for. I work hard each and every day to put food on the table. I pay my taxes (hello Starbucks, are you listening?) and my National Insurance and because I work for myself and don’t have access to a stationery cupboard, I have to buy my own paper-clips too. In short, my life isn’t given to me for free, nor will Mr Supermarket do me a deal for cash.

In my line of work I frequently get offered “amazing” opportunities to work for free or for buttons (quite literally) to apparently “help raise my profile”. It’s exciting to be asked to write for a magazine and to see your name in print, it’s a great feeling, but do you know what’s a better feeling? Being PAID to write and then seeing your name in print. I understand there is a whole chicken/egg scenario here, but I’ve never written for a publication for free in my life and I often see my name in print. If you don’t value your work, the words you sweat over, the research you have done, then no one else will.

Everyone has to start somewhere you say. I agree. But if you write for free now, you can’t turn round in six months and say “now I’m a proper published writer you have to pay me now”, because they won’t. They’ll just move on and find someone else who will write for free, because we’ve all been new and we’ve all been tempted. Not only are you devaluing yourself and your product, you’re making it harder for other writers (including you) to make a living.

But what if they want to pay you? Fabulous news, but what do they want to pay you? What’s your rate? You have two options, a notional hourly rate (I reckon that’ll take me two hours so if I work for £10 and hour that’s £20*) or a pay-per-word arrangement (for example, 800 words for £15*). I hear of writers (usually ones dabbling on the side of a “proper” job) who agree to ridiculous things, like 2000 words for £15. I saw one today which was 750 words for £8. If you’re working and writing for that amount of money, you’re pretty much giving it away for free. Your hourly rate probably isn’t even half that of the minimum wage.

It’s hard to know what to charge when people ask you to write for them. I’m as guilty as the next person for undervaluing my work, but I will charge the going rate based on my notional hourly rate. The best advice I can give is make friends with other copywriters and bounce ideas off them. If you have a gang of copywriters (I’m going to call a group of copywriters a scribble, a scribble of copywriters) then you’ll soon find they pass work onto each other, have each others back, even blacklist really shoddy clients; but it’s good to have “colleagues” in the same boat as you.

If you’ve got what it takes, you can and will earn a good living from being a Freelance Copywriter, it can be a lot of hard work, but if you devalue yourself, give your hard work away for free, then why would people pay you well, let alone pay you at all? Know your own worth and respect yourself enough to be paid for what you do. That’s what any other profession and professional demands. Don’t devalue your worth.

*Not my rate, please contact me if you wish to hire me and we can discuss pounds, shillings and pence.

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