A Week in the Freelance Life
“How do you do it?”
It’s the number one question I get, in a number of flavors:
“How do you get work done at home?”
“How do you get new business?”
“How do you not freak out?”
“How do you promote yourself?”
“How do you get people to pay?”
You get the idea. The short answer is “man, I don’t know.” But, I thought I’d share a week in the life of a freelance content creator (it’s what the kids call copywriters these days), and maybe you could figure it out. See, it’s all interactive and stuff.
Just like you “regular folks,” everything is fine until about 4PM, when we’ve decided on what we’re having for dinner and my mind drifts to MONNNNNNDAY. Then I start freaking out. If I’ve got a busy week planned, I worry that I’ve taken on too much. If I don’t have anything lined up, I start picturing my family living in a refrigerator box, sad and destitute because work dried up. (I’m dramatic that way, but the refrigerator box fear is real.)
Get up, get kids off to school, and if I’m really on the ball I’ll shower before I start working. If not, I will literally sit in my office in my pajamas and work until I look up and my son comes in from the bus at 3. I spend most Mondays writing and delivering work. If I’m not busy, it's Marketing Monday – I’ll reach out to clients I haven’t heard from for a while, stir things up by posting content on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, or brainstorm new blog ideas. If I feel ambitious, I may get my workout in or take a walk for a couple of miles to clear my head. But like most weekdays, it’s a short one since my ability to get work done drops off a cliff once the kids are home. (During a slow week EVERY DAY IS MARKETING MONDAY.)
Pretty much Monday. I hunker down from 9 to 3, rarely even stopping for lunch. If it’s slow, it’s Trim It Down Tuesday, where I try to get my inboxes under control. Between work and personal e-mails, I’m managing 5 different e-mail accounts, so there’s always stuff to trim. It’s also the day I deal with any technical stuff – like archiving, formatting, and backups of all the work. I schedule most calls for Tuesdays, so I can take them while I’m sorting through e-mails like a multitasking BAWSE.
Ah, humpday. For me, it’s What’s Going On Wednesday. Depending on the work schedule, I engage with social media, read industry sites and magazines, and just get a sense of what’s going on, which usually ends up giving me blog ideas or putting me in touch with potential clients.
See Monday. Like the rest of the world, I’m all about #ThrowbackThursday and I use it to post existing content from my blog or website. It’s a great way for me to show off my work, AND remind my existing clients of all the amazing stuff I’ve done for them. I write any new blogs I thought of, confirm next week’s projects, and on big projects, Thursday is also the day I send out status reports.
I end every week with the money stuff – it’s Invoice Day. I devote a lot of time to preparing and following up on invoices, and updating my income and expense spreadsheets. It’s always nice to head into the weekend knowing exactly how close I might be to the refrigerator box. I also post my Free Advice Friday truth tiles and any Pencil Shavings I wrote on Thursday.
Take a breath. Enjoy the family. Watch my son play baseball. Answer all of my daughter’s 8,345 questions.
Overall, the trick for me is to have a plan for the day that has me working for my business even if I’m not working on my clients. Do I get distracted? Oh GOD yes. Does life up-end things on an almost regular basis? Absolutely. But I wouldn't have it any other way, and I’m proud to have done this for a decade.
But just in case, if any of you happen to buy a new fridge anytime soon, can you hold on to the box for me?