I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer for a little over four years, and in that time, I’ve learned two things (okay, a lot of things): It’s awesome, and it’s terrible. When I left my job as a legal assistant, I went looking for something meaningful to do. With a master’s degree in creative writing burning a hole in my pocket, I set out to find a way to get paid for writing words. And I found it.
Being alive and in my thirties in 2017 has its perks. One of those is being able to make a real income without clocking in to a “real” job. It’s a dream come true for introverts. I lounge about in pajama pants, popping in bon-bons with Netflix on in the background, and wax poetic on glamorous topics.
Ahem. Except I don’t. I don’t do that at all.
True, I’ve adopted a pretty consistent work uniform of sweat pants and T-shirts, but being self-employed isn’t the staycation you might hope for. It wasn’t easy when I started sans kid, and it’s even harder now that I’ve got a toddler to keep up with.
You know those Pinterest posts about earning six figures as a blogger? Yeah, no. That’s not likely. Sure, it’s possible. There are a handful of bloggers who rake in that kind of cash, but they’ve been blogging for years and now make a living teaching others how to get rich, too. You don’t get to six figures without painstaking effort. As the Dread Pirate Roberts said, anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something. But I digress.
I digress a lot.
Since I started being my own #girlboss and #mompreneur, my brain has become a clouded mess of information and seemingly endless to-do lists. Moms know too well about “mom brain.” Take that feeling and add a heaping helping of never-ending research, client deadlines, financial juggling, and having to make your own work.
Some people are better at this than others. Time management? Not my thing. Deadlines? Like Douglas Adams, I like the “whooshing” sound they make as they fly by. Writing? Obviously I’m crushing that, but crushing it doesn’t always pay the bills.
As I wrote this post, a million things interrupted me. But it’s kind of hard to tell which thing is the interruption. As a work-at-home mom, work and home blend together. That may not always be the case. Once my toddler grows up a little more, it will be easier to set aside work time in a way that he can understand. For now, it’s a balancing act, and some days are better than others.
So, what’s awesome about being a work-at-home mom, and what’s terrible?
Lemme break it down.
On the great side, working from home means setting my own schedule. I can work during nap times and independent play, or I can set aside time on the weekend. This also means that I can say yes to a lot of things that parents don’t always get to, like weekday trips to the zoo or splashing at the Coolidge fountains. I’ve learned a lot, too, about different topics. Freelancing for a living has sharpened my writing skills.
Con-wise, income depends entirely on effort in the self-employment game. There’s no guaranteed paycheck, although I have been blessed with a regular client who keeps me on an open contract. That’s not always the case with freelance work. This industry is feast or famine. Too often, it’s the latter.
Aside from money, self-employment creates an intense mental fog if, like me, you suffer from lack of focus already. Plus, working from home can be isolating. My Facebook addiction intensified when I started working from home. I turned to social media to follow real people out in the real world.
Being a WAHM is hard work, you guys.
I wrote this post as a way to warn people about highlight some of the challenges of working from home because there’s an increasing number of people (namely women, mostly moms) selling stuff to me on Facebook. I can’t knock someone for trying to earn an income, and I wholeheartedly support people who want to stay at home with their kids but still need to bring in the bacon.
But I need everyone out there who’s thinking about working for herself to know: It’s not easy, it’s time-consuming, and there’s no such thing as a quick buck (at least not the kind of big bucks you’re hoping for).
All of that said, I wouldn’t go back to a traditional job at this point, unless something really, really ridiculously interesting came along and Arthur was in school. I like my freedom, the ability to make my own work, and the hours I spend finding the right shade of blue for the headers on my infographics.