When I chose to give up work to look after Ellie and be her full time carer, I didn’t realise how I would feel. Those emotions included loss in particularly loss of independance, I suddenly felt I had lost my identity, my income and my way. However I found I could I could freelance, work from home and have done ever since. Here is my first guest blog from Kellie Dawson who shows you how.
How freelancing from home provides work/life flexibility for parents and caregivers
As any parent will know, having children changes everything. Having children makes you reevaluate what you want and need in just about every way possible. For many of us, one of the big things that we reassess after having is what we want from our work and whether we wish to return to our past career.
Some of us return to our old jobs only to realise that the lifestyle we once had no longer fits in with family needs and priorities. Some of us just know that we never want to go back there.
The reality for many parents, however, is that whether we want to go back to work or not, we do need to do some sort of work to keep the family finances in order. And even if we don’t need to return to work, working provides us with something to focus on outside of the family. It also helps us stay current if we ever do decide to return to work further down the track.
So, what can you do when you either want to or need to work, but a regular job just won’t fit in with family priorities? My answer is to freelance.
What is freelancing?
Wikipedia defines a freelancer as follows:
“A freelancer or freelance worker, is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term.”
Some of the commonly known freelancing jobs include providing virtual assistance or secretarial services remotely, website design, writing and photography, but freelancing is not limited to these more common niches.
To me, freelancing is really just about using the skills that you have to create a business where you can work independently. It is not limited to a particular skill set or industry. Almost anyone can freelance from home. Sometimes you might need to think a little out of the box, but I am confident that pretty much everyone reading this article will have skills that they can use to create a freelance income.
If you’re wondering if you might be able to freelance from home just have a look back at all of the things you have done over your career and think about the skills that you have that could be used remotely. You might also have other talents or skills that you could use for your freelance career (for example, if you’re savvy with design or great with programmes like WordPress). Often the best way to get started is to simply pull out a large sheet of paper and just start brainstorming ideas.
If you’re getting stuck on precisely what your freelance niche might be then I would encourage you to head along to The Freelance Mama Facebook page and join my online community. Our theme for September is going to be niche selection and I will be running a 3-day niche selection challenge live over on my Facebook page, so make sure you give the page a like so that you get the notifications. Alternatively, you can download one of my freebies and get added to my list to receive email notifications about the challenge.
To me the main advantage of freelancing is the flexibility that it provides. Unlike a regular job, a lot of freelance work can be done at times fits in with your family and other commitments.
For a lot of freelance jobs, your clients will simply require that you meet a deadline by a particular date. It is usually not necessary for you to be physically present at an office or work site, and work is mostly delivered by electronic means, such as email. Sometimes you may never actually meet with your client at all, and often meetings will be held over online applications such as Skype or Zoom. This provides a level of flexibility that is very rarely available in regular forms of employment.
What this means is that you can fit your freelance work commitments in around your life. You can also choose the jobs that you do so that they work for you and for your customers, and you can tailor your own days so that if you have children, parents or other dependents to care for you can be available for them.
For me, for example, freelancing has enabled me to work in hours that fit with in with my family commitments. Most of the time I work during school hours, so that I am able to be there to pick up and drop off my kids and take them to after school activities. From time to time I do end up working in the evenings once the kids are asleep, but when I do have to do this it is because it is usually because it is school holidays or the kids have been home sick and I just haven’t been able to get through all of my work during the day.
Many of my freelance clients are mums too, and they understand that there will be occasions when I have children around while I’m on a phone call or virtual meeting. They also know that I work really hard to make sure I meet their deadlines, so that the flexible arrangement is a win for both of us.
What do you need to get started?
One of the other great things about being a freelancer is that, in many cases, there is very little you need to get started. Most freelancers simply need a laptop, an internet connection and a skill set that is in demand. This makes freelancing a great low-cost entry point for many people who are looking for a work from home option.
The other thing you will need, of course, is some clients. For many people finding clients is seen as something of a barrier to entry, however, you will often find that you are able to get at least your first client or two from within your existing network. For me, the majority of my freelance work has come from people who I already had in my network, or from referrals.
So, if you are thinking about starting your own freelance business start my talking to people you know within your network and see whether they (or someone they know) might be looking for a little help. All it takes to get started earning one client, and even if it is only a few hours here and there to get started, you will be able to use that client as a reference (and maybe even get referrals from them) to be able to start building your reputation in your niche.
How to find out more
If you are thinking freelancing might be the next career path from you then I would love to help you to get started. Each week I share a new blog post on a topic of interest to newbie freelancers over at thefreelancemama.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to stay up to date with all of my latest free resources.
If you’re not sure if you want to freelance but are still interested in earning an income from home, you might like to download my free 7 Ways to Work from Home eBook. In there I have discussed 7 of the most popular ways to work from home with case studies from mums who are using these methods to earn an income from home. Many of these options could also work well for caregivers who are looking for alternative ways to earn an income from home.
Kellie Dawson is a Mama Mentor, helping mums like you to find ways to freelance from home using the skills they already have. Kellie has two little boys aged 4 and 6, and it was her desire to be there for her boys that led her to quit her corporate job and build a work from home business.