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Posts tagged ‘self-employed’

Inside the Day-to-Day Life of a Freelance Writer

Monday Through Friday
As a freelance writer, Jeannie maintains a strict daily work schedule. She isn’t so strict and inflexible that she can’t handle unexpected emergencies, but she has learned that discipline is key to earning.

She wakes up to the sound of her radio alarm. While she’s not up as early as those who work for “brick and mortar” employers, she makes it a daily practice to be up before 6:30. She feeds her cats, makes her bed, exercises, makes two cups of coffee, then takes care of her email. She dresses for her day, sometimes in jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt and, on other days, in more professional clothing.

Breakfast

As she’s drinking coffee, she reads and deletes or saves the emails that have come in overnight –– her practice is to get through it early because she gets, on average, 20 a day. It’s easier to deal with the overnight emails, then, as others come in during the day, she deals with them on work breaks.

After breakfast, Jeannie takes care of a single household chore before settling down to writing. Again, she has a daily and weekly schedule, which enables her to take care of the house and the necessity to earn.

Writing

At approximately 9 a.m., Jeannie gets a bottle of water and a quick breakfast, then settles down to her first article of the day. Her research for each article is already done. As she is claiming and accepting titles from various clients, she completes her research, finding acceptable websites or books from which she can draw sources, quotes and cite information. She strives to write one article in approximately 45 minutes to one hour, which means she should be able to write between seven and nine articles a day, depending on which client or publisher she is writing for.

Clients

Jeannie writes for online sites like Bright Hub, Demand Media Studios, Writers Research Group, Constant Content and Writers Access. She does not write for every one of these sites. Instead, she has applied with, and been accepted for just a few. She also has writing/blog accounts with sites like Triond, WordPress and HubPages.

Because Jeannie spent several years working for various brick-and-mortar employers, she is used to sound, conversation, ringing phones, whirring copiers, slamming file drawers and the interruptions of coworkers. She can’t work in silence any more, so she has the sound of her television to help her focus on her work.

By 1 p.m., Jeannie is hungry and takes a quick lunch break. As she’s munching, she browses around the forums of one of her clients. She interacts with some of her colleagues in the forums, sending and receiving occasional private messages, or PMs.

More Writing

Apple Desktop Computer

After lunch, which usually lasts about half an hour, Jeannie’s back at work, tackling more articles. By this time, she has written anywhere between 3 and 4 articles, depending on how much research each title requires.

Jeannie tries to be finished with her writing by 6:30, so she can work on a blog entry, then relaxing with a television show or one of her hobbies.

She sometimes takes a break to take care of personal business –– paying a bill, getting allergy shots, buying groceries or picking up prescriptions.

At the end of the day, Jeannie has written, on average, anywhere between six and nine articles. As an independent contractor, she is responsible for 100 percent of her income, and is always looking for new clients.

Tomorrow will be a new day, and Jeannie faces new titles, new topics and new research.

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Freelancers, Hobbies and Preventing Burnout

The Business of Freelancing

Freelancers (writing, accountants, graphic designers, personal shoppers, counselors, organizers) give themselves a big opportunity when they decide to start working for themselves. Freelancers also take a huge risk, financially. If they do not have employment outside the home, the responsibility is 100 percent upon them for success –– or failure. Most self-employed people realize this and put many hours into their businesses every week, sometimes more than the usual 40 they would work if they were to be working for someone else.

Setting Up a Workable Work Schedule

Focusing on an individual freelancer –– while it is good to be focused on making her business grow, her efforts will be useless if she does not pay attention to her mental health. She could push herself to the point that she can’t work and bring money in. What should she do to meet two seemingly opposite goals?

First, she should map out a reasonable work schedule that allows her to focus on working during the day. This schedule should allow her to take care of errands that she can’t complete outside working hours, such as paying a bill in person.

Second, she needs to give herself enough time every week to take care of household activities, such as cooking or cleaning. If she can, she should arrange her workday so that the cleaning or cooking are all taken care of in the same time block so that, when she is working, she will not be distracted.

Third, she needs breaks during her work day. Regardless of her self-employment status, she needs those breaks so she can rest her mind and eyes. If she keeps her television on for sound, she can take advantage of this and watch a portion of a program during her breaks and lunch.

The Consequences of Overworking as a Freelancer

Is she at risk of burnout if she doesn’t allow herself to relax? Isn’t that just a bunch of fancy talk that allows her to be lazy at home?

Yes, she is risking burnout which can put her business at risk. No, it isn’t just an excuse to be lazy. Here’s an imaginary scenario:

Our freelancer (let’s call her Vicky) is highly motivated to make her business a success. With this goal in mind, she sets up an ambitious work schedule. Thing is, she overlooks giving herself enough time to take care of business outside her home; she forgets to factor in time for laundry, cleaning or cooking. She forgets about her need to recharge herself.

At first, things are going great. She’s putting in 12-hour days and she’s seeing results. She’s gaining new clients every month and they are becoming repeat clients. She gets excited and redoubles her earning efforts. She begins working on Saturdays.

Her house is beginning to show signs of neglect: laundry is piling up and it’s been a few weeks since the bathroom was cleaned. When she remembers to eat, it’s an apple here, a bowl of cold cereal there or crackers and cheese. She’s had to throw out more than one carton of spoiled milk and moldy or spoiled food.

One morning she wakes up –– or she tries to wake up. Her eyes just won’t open and she is so exhausted. She feels like she got slammed by a freight train. Thinking she’s coming down with the flu, she stays in bed and sleeps until 3 p.m. The next few days are a repeat. She’s getting calls from clients looking for the jobs they gave her. They want to see what progress she has made and all they’re getting is her voice mail. Eventually, she’s able to get up and she checks her voice mails only to find out that some of her best clients are ready to jump ship and look for another freelancer. Even worse, when she opens her email account, her best client has already done so.

She’s alarmed and, despite the fact that she’s still very tired, she resumes her work schedule. She finishes the jobs she’s contracted for and sends them to her clients. She gets calls and emails from them, letting her know that they found several errors in her work. They’re sorry, but they’re going to terminate their contract with her and send her their final payment.

If Vicky had set up a realistic work schedule, this would never have happened — or, at the very least, the chances of this happening would have been greatly reduced.

Find a Hobby and Respect Your Mind and Body

Working for Herself at Home FDP Credit Ambro

The self-employed freelancer needs to give herself a workable schedule.

Where does the relaxing activity or hobby come in? Just as with the reasonable working schedule and work, it comes out at the top. As a self-employed person, Vicky is responsible for it all. She is her own boss and employee. She has to pay self-employment taxes every quarter. She has to pay for all her office supplies AND all of her personal bills. She cannot do so if she is driving herself so hard she makes herself physically ill.

For this reason, it is very important for her to leave herself enough time at the end of the day to relax with something recreational. It should, of course, be something she enjoys learning and doing. Perhaps it’s gourmet cooking or baking; woodworking; making or writing music; a needle craft or creative writing. Just as if she were traditionally employed by an employer, she needs to give herself time at the end of her workday to recharge her batteries (physical, mental and emotional).

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