Most of my friends and acquaintances have jobs where they work 9 – 5 on weekdays. Because of that, I get questions all the time about what it’s like to be a freelancer. Since I adore my freelance life (and my dear friends!), I’m always happy to give them a glimpse into what the freelance life is all about! And today I’m going to share that with you, too. Here are some of the most common questions I receive about the freelance lifestyle, plus my responses.
The Freelance Life: Q & A
Q1: Do you wear pajamas or sweatpants all day long?
A1: Definitely not. I like pretty things, and I enjoy getting dressed up! On the weekend I’ll usually work in my comfy clothes, but every other day of the week, I get dressed. It puts me in a good place for being productive and getting lots of work done.
Q2: Is it scary not knowing when the next paycheck is coming?
A2: Of course! Luckily, I love planning ahead and I also adore budgeting, so I pay very close attention to my finances and to my workload. I generally have several backup plans in case projects fall through or in case of slow times. But as scary as it is, it is so much more relaxing and enjoyable to not know when your next paycheck is coming and loving your work, compared to knowing when your next paycheck is coming and being unhappy in your job. I’ll take freelancing any day!
Q3: Do you stick to a regular schedule?
A3: These days, my “weekend” is generally Friday and Saturday. Most days of the week, I wake up, exercise, spend the first hour of my day responding to emails and updating all of my social media accounts, then work for clients throughout the morning and the afternoon, and spend the evening doing administrative work for my business. I deal with household tasks and personal errands on Friday and Saturday, although I always work for at least a few hours on those days, too.
Q4: But you have, like, TONS of free time, right?
A4: Haha! No. Much of my work requires fast turnaround time, which means that I have to organize my time very wisely to make room for urgent jobs. And when I don’t have work, that means that I’m not making an income, which means I can’t pay my mortgage – so I spend most of my “free” time networking, marketing, and searching for more work.
Q5: What exactly do you DO all day?
A5: I sit in coffee shops with fancy, overpriced coffee, tapping on my computer as though I’m incredibly important but actually looking up shoe sales online.
KIDDING. Ninety-five percent of the time I work from home, and I spend my day working on projects for clients (editing, writing, and managing social media) and managing my business (dealing with administrative tasks and marketing my business). The actual work itself is split fairly evenly between writing and editing work (which might include everything from editing professional documents to writing articles and web copy to transcribing to editing manuscripts… a little bit of everything!).
At this stage in my career, since I’m still relatively new to the full-time freelance life, I also spend a fair amount of time networking and connecting with new and prospective clients. Since *I* am my brand, I probably spend around 50 hours each week on work items and business-related activities combined (and I work six or seven days each week).
Q6: Don’t you miss being around people?
A6: As a matter of fact, I’m an introvert (I know, right? An editor / writer who’s an introvert – so original). I love being around other people, but it drains me pretty quickly. At my previous job, I really liked everyone I worked with but I never had any energy to have a social life! Now that I work by myself all day, I have that much more energy for socializing. And besides that, Mr Science spends about 75% of his time working from home while he is doing his Masters degree, so I actually do have company throughout the day.
Q7: Do you get distracted by personal stuff all the time when you’re supposed to be working?
A7: For me, I *am* my brand. And that means that a lot of my personal life runs parallel to my work life! But in all honesty, I actually get more distracted by my work life than my personal life. I dislike running personal errands with a passion (I actually put off renewing my passport for MONTHS, even though it only took about 30 minutes in total to get new photographs, fill out the form, and stand in line to hand in the form. How embarrassing). If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the freelance life, it’s that I would so much rather do work than deal with menial personal tasks!
Q8: Freelance editors charge a lot of money! Why is it so expensive?
A8: This question is answered perfectly by Small Blue Dog Publishing (you can read two articles on the subject: Why are book editors so expensive?? and The other reason book editors are SO expensive). In a nutshell, these articles explain how long it takes to edit a piece (about 1,000 words / hour) and how many other things are included in the fee (such as the computer, professional development, memberships, business development, etc.).
Depending on the project, my editing rates are around 5 cents / word or $50 / hour. As you can see when looking at standard and national rates, listed on websites such as the Professional Writers Association of Canada and Freelance Industry Report and Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance, my rates are pretty average (and actually quite low considering that I specialize in rush jobs). Editing rates can seem like a lot, but hiring an editor is well worth it!