I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and though I check your site a bunch of times each day, I usually don’t comment. This is the first time I’ve emailed you, too. Hey, I’m sorta shy! But I’m hoping you can give me a little advice, although not of the beauty product variety (even though I loves me some Smackdown).
Here’s the deal. I’m due with my first baby (a boy! with a penis and everything!) in late May. I’m thrilled, but I’m also terrified. The big reason is because of my job. I’m a reporter and news anchor for a TV station, and my job monopolizes my life. I make great money, but I have no clue how I am going to juggle a baby and this job. It’s hard enough to keep it together when I am only worrying about myself.
Anyway, I know you ended up making some changes and doing freelancing to allow you to stay home with Noah. I’m trying to figure out how I might be able to do something similar. I am a journalist, I’m a good writer, and prior to my TV jobs I worked as an editor and writer for a small publishing company, so I guess I have some decent credentials. I just have no clue about where to start!
I’m hoping you might be able to offer a little advice on where to look for jobs and how to jumpstart this new venture. Ideally I’d love to freelance or do some kind of telecommuting, but this is all new to me. Thanks for any help you might be able to offer!
(Hey! Remember when I used to give advice and stuff? About things other than beauty products? Yeah, me neither. But I am tired of talking about pores and eyebrows.)
Trying to come up with general advice about freelancing is a tough one, since the path to freelancing is going to be pretty different for everybody, even in similar fields — it’s not as simple as answering one of those random GOTZ COMPUTUR? WORK FROM HOME MAKE MAD DOLLAZ signs on the side of the road. Although…that’s a good place for the advice to start…
TIPS FOR FREELANCING
BY AMY CORBETT STORCH, MASTER FREELANCER
TIP #1: Do not respond to random signs on the side of the road offering you mad dollaz for working from home. They be teh scamz.
The very best place to start is with your current job. I kind of screwed this one up, since I bent over backwards trying to get a full block of freelancing jobs lined up before talking to my boss about my growing dissatisfaction at work. It was only after I gave notice did I realize they would have been a lot more flexible than I gave them credit for — I probably could have gotten my hours bumped down to part time or worked from home two days a week if I’d just ASKED instead of assuming that wasn’t an option. It still worked out, however, and I was able to stay on as a contractor for a few months and ease the transition while my other writing gigs ramped up.
It’s in your job’s best interest to keep you on in some capacity. They’ve made an investment in your training and career path, and unless they secretly think you suck and are waiting for an excuse to get rid of you, they’ll probably welcome a chance to make you happy and keep you from quitting outright.
If your current job doesn’t have anything part time to offer, then start working backwards through your resume. Crack open the Rolodex. Email your old jobs and bosses and coworkers. It sounds like you’ve got some good experience behind you, and the journalism field is pretty much run by freelancers. I know there are big online databases and such for freelance writing and editing jobs, but chasing down random assignments is tough, time consuming and demoralizing. Your absolute best bet is to seek work from people you know and people you’ve already proven your worth to. Then cross your fingers and hope for the freelancer snowball effect: one job leads to another, and as your portfolio grows, the next job will be just a little easier to land.
The only other advice I can give is trite and tired — but true. Be HONEST WITH YOURSELF AND YOUR CAPACITY TO WORK FROM HOME. This is NOT A FREAKING VACATION. Especially while caring for a newborn. Or a baby. And then, oh God, a toddler. That’s a full-time job right there, and spreading yourself too thin with too many writing gigs will drive you crazy. I’m still working out the kinks myself. Sometimes I feel like the stuff I’m producing for work is total half-assed crap, and the fact that I spent my time writing that crap instead of taking my son to storytime at the library makes me feel like I’m half-assing motherhood.
I had a part-time babysitter come in a few times a week last summer, and while it was terrifically helpful, once my contracting gig with my old job was up, I simply couldn’t afford to continue that. Recently I was offered some additional work and was faced with a conundrum: do I take these jobs and find a nanny, thus pretty much forking over the majority of the money I’d make from them…or do I stay content with my current line-up of assignments, sacrifice the additional exposure but remain the primary caregiver to Noah who has time for Gymboree and playdates?
For me, it was an easy decision, but I bet six months ago I would have pushed myself too hard and taken the additional work.
That said, if you can afford part-time help with childcare, DO IT. At least in the beginning when you’re likely to feel pretty lost and shaken by the huge change you’ve made.
Anyway, I’ve gone wildly off-track here, but I wanted to get all my thoughts out before Noah wakes up from his nap. Talk to your current job. Utilize the connections you’ve worked hard to make in your career to help launch you into the next stage of it. And be sure to look at freelancing from all the angles — it’s very ebb and flow, no benefits and ack! taxes! and can easily monopolize your life just as easily as a regular job. The commute’s a lot better though.
And so is the view.