freelance work

The Best Advice I Have for Working During the Holidays

The Best Advice I Have for Working During the Holidays | Writing Between Pauses

The holiday season is getting dangerously close. After Halloween is always when we see a big explosion of Christmas everything in the U.S., but this past weekend, Danny & I admired Christmas trees in Lowe’s. (And Forrest desperately begged us to get a bunch of lawn decorations that, in total, cost more than his school.)

I also work in marketing, so the holidays are never far from my mind when it comes to client work.

Back when I first graduated from college (2011??? Is that right? Am I ancient?), I remember the hardest part of starting my career was working through the holidays. I had never had to work Thanksgiving before! I’d always been bundled up the Wednesday before, driving home to my parents house, working on NaNoWriMo, and then driving back to college Sunday. I’d never had to work the week leading up to Christmas, except when I was in high school, and that was usually only one or two evenings the weekend before the big holiday. Working the day before Christmas or, worse, working on Christmas, or even worse, having to spend Christmas with everyone then go back to the work the next day felt like a big culture shock.

Holiday movies had led me to believe that most businesses effectively shut down during the holidays. Doesn’t it seem like everyone always has the week or two around Christmas inexplicably off in every Christmas movie? They’re all spending loads of time at home without a care in the world. No one is rushing to their laptop to QA some social media posts or make sure a report got delivered to a client.

But, unfortunately, life isn’t like the movies. Yeah, I was shocked too. The first time I had to work December 23, have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, then pack myself up to go back to work the day after Christmas was a really, really whiny week for me. I know for those just starting their careers, this can be a huge issue with their morale; it’s hard to be cheerful during the dark Winter months when you don’t even get to feel like you really enjoy the only holiday!

Especially for those who are self-employed or running their own businesses, holidays can feel even more rushed. You have tons of client work; everyone is stressed; plus you’re planning this big holiday, potentially with travel. If you have kids, it’s even more stressful.

Here’s the truth: it sucks working during the holidays. It does! It just does! Whether you work customer service (and trust me, the Thanksgiving I spent working at a grocery store was potentially one of the worst days of my life; if you want to see humanity at its absolute worst, go to a grocery store on Thanksgiving and wait until they announce the store is closing. The number of people who drag their feet and plain refuse to leave the store so everyone can get home to their families is shocking) or you work at an office job or if you work for yourself—working during the holidays can be exhausting.

There are ways to make it easier! So whether this is your first holiday season working full time or your 10th, I want to share a few ways to make things like a little easier.

1. Keep your expectations low.

The holiday season is full of expectations. You’re going to churn out amazing client work*, take your family to the pumpkin patch and the tree farm and every other holiday event you can find, keep your house clean, not lose your mind, cook amazing holiday dinners, entertain friends, post jealousy-inducing Instagram photos, and buy amazing gifts that make everyone happy.

Oh, yeah, no.

You aren’t Martha Stewart and no one is expecting you to be! Having a few easy get-togethers with friends throughout the holidays is more important than throwing a bash that leaves you exhausted. And who cares if your house gets a little messy if everyone is having fun for these 3 short months? (Let’s be honest: I care. But I have to let it go.)

The secret is this: keep your expectations low. You will be working through the holidays. Maybe it won’t be like a Hallmark Christmas movie, but hey! That might be a good thing. Lower expectations (for yourself, for your home, for your parties, for work) will serve you well to keep you from feeling disappointed and sad when the season is over.

*Just me?

2. Make work fun.

For several years, every Christmas Eve Eve (you know what I’m talking about), I wore jingle bell earrings to work. If I had to be at work on a day that I would have preferred to spend sipping hot cocoa & watching movies with Danny, then I wanted to have fun.

I’ve worn ugly Christmas sweaters to work. I’ve donned Christmas leggings. I’ve baked cookies to take to my coworkers. I’ve scream-sang Christmas jingles in the car on the way to work to get myself in a better mood. Basically: I’ve made the days I’ve had to work during the holidays as fun as I absolutely could. It wasn’t always fun! Sometimes, there were emergencies, clients freaking out, big events coming up. Emails to get sent out. Next quarter calendars to plan. Christmas falls at kind of a terrible time of year to have a big holiday. But it’s still possible to have fun at work.

Take the cookies. Wear jingle bell earrings. Watch a Christmas movie if you work from home. Eat as many cookies as you want. Light a Christmas candle. Do whatever it takes!

3. Keep the traditions you’re used to.

I have to work for most of the holidays anyway, I thought, my first Thanksgiving working, so what’s the point?

Back when I worked at a grocery store, we all got off work at 2pm (seriously). I rushed to my car and drove home, went up to my room and promptly fell asleep. My entire family was downstairs waiting for me to come down. The entire day had sucked; I was in such a bad mood, having to get to work at nearly 6am to work a full 8 hour shift until 2pm. By the time I got home, I was really done. I stomped my way upstairs and slept through Thanksgiving. I remember waking up and crying. I’d missed one of my favorite holidays, I felt terrible, and I wanted nothing more than to just have a fun day with my family.

It can be tempting to bury yourself in work or just ignore the holidays. It’s easy to say who cares and just ignore it. But if you’ve always celebrated the holidays and there are parts of it you love (whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas or your own special family tradition), there is no reason to stop now. You’ll only feel sad that you let yourself miss it.

4. It makes the holidays different.

… but not necessarily worse. Working during the holidays won’t be like being a student during the holidays, or a child during the holidays. Also, working for yourself during the holidays, having your own child during the holidays… it’s all different. Not worse, just different.

You’re never going to be able to reverse time and relive your childhood experiences with Christmas morning. That’s in the past. So why not accept the way the holidays have changed shape now? Sure, you have to work during the holidays—but you can grab coffee with your friends more, go to holiday parties after work, learn how to make hot toddies, and more. It’s different, sure, but it doesn’t have to be bad.

Life Lately: 5 Things I Learned Last Week

Life Lately: 5 Things I Learned Last Week | Writing Between Pauses

I have found myself waffling back and forth between two plans lately.

Sometimes, I’m fully committed to being freelance: I post on LinkedIn, I network, I make meetings, everything.

And other times, I just wish I had a job again: a job that I turned off, that I could clean out my office for, that I could drive to everyday and have coffee provided.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you don’t know the big, bad, and also very weird thing that happened to me last week. I’ll get to it!

But it’s definitely thrown me for a loop. I’ve recommitted to going freelance, even though it is hard, and makes me tired, and fills me with anxiety in ways that are both good and bad. The last few weeks have been a series of lessons, over and over. I wanted to share a few things as I know that many are on this journey with me. If you’re thinking of going freelance or becoming self-employed (or starting your own business), you’ve probably felt a few of these things. And if you, like me, have had moments of self-doubt and tried to reconnect to a different path, well, you might feel some of these too.

1. Sometimes, anxiety is self-protection.

As I wrote in my newsletter two weeks ago, my therapist often talks to me about how my anxiety and self-doubt is often me trying to protect myself. I hold myself back in ways I don’t truly understand because I’m afraid of being rejected—and then when I step outside my comfort zone and experience rejection, it just reinforces the “you should have anxiety about this,” or “you are an imposter and you aren’t good at your job” feelings. (If you aren’t subscribed to my newsletter, then, baby, please do.)

The past two weeks have been anxiety central for me. Which is crazy because I had one week where everything went fantastic: I had meetings scheduled every single day, I was networking, I was sending emails, I felt amazing. But then, the next week, it’s like it all came crashing down and I didn’t know how to cope.

Anxiety is often what I describe as a combination of my gut feeling (which is instinctual) and this buzzing in my brain that seems to resonate with “wrong, wrong, wrong, something is wrong.” It’s hard to have the two happening at the same time and wonder if one is correct and the other isn’t. It’s hard to trust myself when what I inherently think (go the easy route, don’t make waves) is often a way of protecting myself from experiencing rejection or anxiety.

Anyway, this is all to say: I’ve been working on how I react to things and how I make decisions. I sometimes jokingly say that I am a classic Libra because I can’t make decisions. But the truth is, I struggle with making big decisions because I tend to make life decisions focused on what other people would want, rather than what I would want myself.

2. My gut feeling is usually correct.

It’s time for me to write the big, bad, weird story here & talk a little bit more about what it made me learn.

This might feel a little contradictory to my last point, but I sometimes just get a gut feeling about things. This won’t go well or This doesn’t seem right. It’s not anxiety, exactly, but sometimes a part of it. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling I have that I can’t totally explain.

Anyway, let’s talk about the big bad: I was offered a job.

Let’s rewind: two weeks ago, I went to an interview where they loved me. I met with an executive, who thought I would be great in the role, but wouldn’t be happy. She then offered to accelerate starting their marketing department so that I would be added to it. She would get back to me in a few days. A few days later, we scheduled a phone call. I clarified my schedule (I want to be able to pick up my son in the afternoon, but I could work from home as much they wanted). They had never done a remote position before, but were willing to try. She said they would be sending a job offer by the next day.

The next day, Tuesday of last week, I woke up from a nap to see an email from her, telling me they would not be sending me a job offer specifically because I wanted to be able to pick up my son in the afternoon.

I know this is not the worst example of anti-mom bias in the workplace. I know that. I also know I’m in a really privileged position to be able to ask for that, but I don’t think it should be a privilege. I think it should be assumed that parents need to be able to leave to get their kids when school is over, but if they work a job that is 100% online the way marketing is, then why can’t they just finish up the last two hours of work from home?! I just don’t get it.

I cried a lot.

But, I had been nervous about getting the job offer. I’d debated back and forth with Danny about accepting it. And a small part of me on Tuesday thought: this isn’t right. This isn’t going to happen the way I think it will.

Even as I got excited to accept the job. Even when I thought about the salary and how it would have changed our lives. (We could afford a vacation, for once.)

I was still devastated when I got the email, but I found myself thinking: that gut feeling was right. That feeling I got that they wouldn’t be understanding of my role as a caretaker and mother was right. I was right. It still royally sucked, but I was right. It just sucks.

3. Sometimes, a bad thing leads to a good thing.

The day after I got that awful, no good email, I got a text message about a potential freelance gig. I was groggy, with that “hungover from crying” feeling. I was in a bad mood all day, mostly lying on the couch and sometimes texting Danny, “I had already planned a celebratory Disneyland trip in my mind.” (Yes, I know that is full-blown emo, but what can I say?)

But I scheduled another meeting for a freelance gig. Because why not? Because why stop myself just because I’ve had a rough week?

4. It’s ok to get in your feelings about it—but sometimes your primary feeling isn’t the right one.

As I said, I cried a lot last Tuesday. (And unfortunately, a lot of this blog post is about that email on Tuesday. God, it sucked!) I cried a lot and even though I’d had this gut feeling that it wasn’t the right job for me even though it paid so well and I wouldn’t have to worry about money and it seemed perfect… I still had the feeling that it wasn’t quite right.

But I also had that feeling of: I’m a failure, I fucked up, I’m stupid, I shouldn’t even apply to jobs because no one wants to hire a mother, everyone thinks I’m an idiot.

But then I talked to my former boss and she told me that there was no reason blaming myself. What kind of company offers someone a job, then yanks it away because they decide they don’t like the already agreed upon schedule? Especially in marketing, where a flexible schedule is sort of… the point of working in marketing? “Be angry,” she said.

The right thing is not: “I fucked up.” The right thing is: “they fucked up and I’m so angry.

The worst part is that companies here in Eugene so often complain about being unable to hire good talent. They can’t find people to hire or the people who apply don’t have enough experience. I have 5 years experience; I am a high level marketer; I’m very good at what I do! I am the good talent! But because businesses see “work” as being 40-60+ hours a week in an office, no exceptions, they aren’t willing to accept people who might need other schedules: mothers, or people with disabilities, or anyone else who just doesn’t want to be chained to a desk. Millennials have a much different view about what it means to work “full time” and it’s time for everyone else to catch up.

I sat up on Tuesday night until nearly 3 am writing a blisteringly angry article for LinkedIn. I probably won’t post it, but God, it felt good.

5. It’s ok to be content.

“I should be making more money,” I thought. But is that right? Do I need to be making more money?

If you can’t tell, a big part of why the loss of that job offer sucked is because the salary was good. Full disclosure, I’ve never been motivated by money when it comes to my jobs; I just want to work and to be quite honest, I have a really hard time understanding salary comparisons. I have known, at least somewhat, that as a marketer I should have been making more money ages ago, but it didn’t really matter to me. We got by.

It’s only been the last probably year where things felt really tight, but that was for reasons sort of beyond our control. We had a year of bad financial set backs and then, in 2019, my workplace was becoming more and more financially unstable as well. (Again, no one’s fault! Just the way the cookie crumbles.)

So the idea of a lot more money was huge. We haven’t been on a real vacation since we went to Disneyland in June 2017 and friends, I am exhausted. I think about getting in my car and just driving away at least once every single day. I have worked, for at least 5 hours, every single day since June 2017 on either this blog, or work, or some other professional capacity.

As much as I wish we could be saving more money, I have also realized it’s ok to just get by for a little while, especially if it means improving my mental health. Money is nice and I wish we could afford a trip to take a break (we both need, Forrest needs it), but I’m ok with waiting if it means I’m not continually being punched in the gut by companies!


Whew, I know that was a lot but it felt good to write out. I’m trying to look at the next few weeks with positivity. I have time to make Forrest a birthday cake, to take him to school most days, to pick him up from school and love him. It has been a rough few weeks for me, but I’m lucky to be doing as well as I am, considering everything.

With that said: how have you been doing? Share with me!

How to Handle Rejection in Your Career

How to Handle Rejection In Your Career | Writing Between Pauses

In case you’re wondering how my freelance prospects have gone the last few weeks, here’s a good example conversation I feel like I’ve had about 400 times:

Prospect: So how much would that be?

Me: Well, I charge $250 for an initial strategy, then actual content creation would be $800 per month.

Prospect: (sharp inhale of breath, mild gasp) well that’s just too much! I guess we’ll think about it and get back to you.

Readers, they do not get back to me. They’re never going to back to me. I know that. You know that. They know that.

Even worse than this example is the people who arrange meetings with me, sit across from me in coffee shops acting interested, or spend an hour on the phone with me pretending to be interested, only to ask the inevitable: “So what happened with [name of agency]?” (In case you didn’t read this blog post, I got laid off from the agency I worked at for 5 years, alongside all my coworkers. It sucked, but I’m doing ok!)

I know what I look like when that happens: the smile on my face becomes just a little more strained, my eyes crinkled up. I want to cry because I always know the question will come in every interview and meeting and phone call for the next few years. I have to say the same thing over and over: “It’s not really my story to tell and if you met with me for gossip, you met with the wrong person.” After that, we usually finish up our coffees and they pretend to want a rate sheet, or they pretend that they’ll let me know when they want to move forward and sign a contract. But they won’t. They won’t answer my phone calls or respond to my emails.

I know that. You know that. And they know that.

It’s fine, really. I have some prospects that look great. But the type of rejection I’ve been getting lately has been different from any other type of rejection I’ve ever experienced. It’s not just not getting a job where there were tons of applicants and, ok, maybe I’m not the most qualified. It’s rejection based entirely on me and my skill level and what I’m asking to be paid. Or worse, it’s a type of rejection that happened before I even got a chance: they only wanted to talk to me for gossip that I was never going to use to leverage getting paid.

I feel a lot of things about being laid off, about losing a job I’ve loved for 5 years, but one thing I’ll never feel is like I have to use any gossip about that job in order to get paid. I’d rather be dirt poor than do that, thank you very much.

It sucks to be told you’re charging too much. It sucks to feel like people only want to talk to you so they can get dirt on someone else. (And they’re never going to get dirt about other people from me, that’s just the rules.) And it sucks to have all of this happening when I otherwise feel really vulnerable and unsure about my future and what I want and what I’m doing generally.

Rejection sucks even at the best of times. But when you’re already struggling, it can feel like an even bigger burden.

Luckily, I’ve found a few ways to deal with my feelings of rejection in the last few weeks. I wanted to share them, as I know for many women and young professionals, rejection can be a huge barrier many of us face as we start our careers. Whether we are just out of college, going back to work after maternity leave, or starting fresh after being laid off (or simply leaving a toxic workplace), the truth is we are going to get rejected. It doesn’t have to be such a big knock to your confidence, so let’s talk tips for coping.

1. Fill Your Time

I recently signed up for Vix Meldrew’s Grow & Glow, which I highly recommend for bloggers. The reason is because I needed something to do. I just… needed something! I don’t know how to explain it, but I couldn’t spend one more of my scheduled “work hours” applying to jobs, rewriting my resume for the 400th time, or drafting a LinkedIn post. Or worse, writing another networking email.

I needed something positive to channel all the energy I usually dedicate to my job into it. Something! Anything! So I decided, for the equivalent of $13 a month, Grow & Glow was the perfect level of dedication: modules I can work on at my leisure, always giving me something to read, watch, and journal about when I’m sitting in a coffee shop.

I’m not tell you to sign up for Grow & Glow. (Although, again, I really love it! It’s helped my blog immensely in the last few weeks.) I am telling you to find something to use your energy on. If you’re currently looking for a job, or you are starting your career, or you just have hours to fill that you wish you were spending working on something… find something to fill your time. It might be a cheap online course. It might be a new certification. It might be learning a new language! Anything that will help you and your career and give purpose to your days is important, especially if you struggle with anxiety when you don’t have anything to do.

I know for me, I hate not having at least 2-3 things on my to do list every day. So having something that I can automatically look to for tasks is important.

2. Spend Time with Friends

If you’re struggling to start your career, or really getting down about your career prospects, here’s one thing to consider: spend some time with your friends. I know it can feel daunting, especially if you’re not working while everyone else is. (I definitely felt this just after I had Forrest; I wasn’t working, at a job at least, but everyone I knew was and it was an incredibly isolating experience.) However, send that text message or email. Reach out on Facebook or LinkedIn. Meet with old coworkers, or old friends, or new friends. Meet for coffee. Talk about what you’re going through. Ask for advice. Ask for potential connections.

Even if nothing comes from it, spending time with your friends can boost your mood and help alleviate the isolation you can feel when you’re getting rejected (by jobs, by potential clients, by what feels like everyone). Reach out to your friends, let them know what’s going on in your life, and they’ll be more likely to check on you as well.

3. Take Care of Yourself

This goes without saying but: rejection often isn’t personal.

Even though it feels personal (and lately, everything I’ve experienced feels SO intensely personal), it’s really… not. It’s not! If you don’t get a job you really wanted, it most likely isn’t because you are lacking in some way; it’s because there were tons of qualified applicants and they just happened to pick someone over you. If a prospect says “no” to your freelance services, it’s most likely not because they don’t like you; they probably just aren’t ready to commit anyway (and would therefore probably have made a terrible client).

You deserve a career that leaves you feeling fulfilled and happy. You will find it.

But in the meantime, when everything you’re told feels like a slamming door in your face, take care of yourself. Take a long bubble bath. Read your favorite book. Go out to dinner even though you’re stressed about money. Take your kids to the park or go to a music show with your partner or friends. Don’t treat yourself badly just because you feel badly about how the world is treating you. You come first in your life, so take care of you, show yourself love, and don’t allow rejection to turn into self-hatred.

4. Look at Rejection Realistically

Like I said: rejection is hardly ever personal. Sometimes it is, that’s true. Sometimes, you just might not click with a client.

I recently had to fire a client who I had actually been working with for a long time. I had had some reservations starting work with this client from the get go; they seemed disorganized, very slow to reply, and unsure of what they needed and what they were doing. But I personally really liked them. I should have said, “You know what? No.” I should have been the one to reject them, but I didn’t because I didn’t want them to think I didn’t like them or support their business. (I do like them and I do want to support their business.)

Things went bad fast. They were not an ideal client. They didn’t reply to emails and then, weeks later, would question why something hadn’t moved forward. (Because they hadn’t replied to my emails!) Long story short: I should have said no. Because rejection is about doing the best work possible sometimes, not about how much we like someone.

A potential employer can like you a lot and think you’re incredibly talented… and still say no. Here’s another example: since I graduated college in 2011, I have applied and interviewed at a business at least 4 times! Every single time, the owner tells me how incredible I seem as an employee, how impressed she is with my skills… then she hires someone else. For a long time, I thought she was just doing this to neg me or make me feel inferior—or worse, she was just lying about my skills. But recently, I was talking about this with someone and they said, “she probably thinks you’re great, but just not right for that specific job.” Isn’t that the truth? The rejection wasn’t personal; I just wasn’t the best fit for the job, even though I desperately wanted to be.

All I’m saying is: when it comes to getting that “no” (that can be so painful, so ill-timed), sometimes it’s not really about you. Sometimes it’s about someone else. Not every “no” is a “not good enough”; most of the time, “no” is just “sorry, no.”


Do you have any tips for handling rejection? Share with me in the comments!

Blogging & Business: I'm Going Freelance (& You Can Too)

Blogging & Business: I'm Going Freelance | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve sat down to write this blog post over and over, not knowing really what to say. Originally, I knew it was basically going to be all about what happened to me, and my job (which I loved, as most people knew), and how I am now seeking out different opportunities in order to keep doing what I love. But I realized that when it comes down to it, it’s not just about me: it’s about me, and what it’s like to work for a business as a woman or a mother or both.

Every mother I know has looked for ways to work from home, or work for themselves, in a way that is meaningful. Working full-time, or even part-time, as a mother is incredibly challenging. But I don’t think this is confined to just women who happen to be mothers: I know lots of women, from college age into their 40s wonder if working for themselves would be more beneficial. It’s something I toyed with—taking on freelance clients if they specifically reached out to me, but not actively seeking them out—for years before now.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the big bad: what happened.

As I’ve alluded to in posts, and written about on Instagram, I got laid off mid-way through July. July 17 to be exact. It’s definitely going to be one of those dates I remember forever, you know? July 17, the day the company I worked at for 5 whole years closed forever. It was devastating. I spent most of that day sobbing off and on. We’d only been aware for a week in total that it might happen and thought we had more time; until the end of July at least! It’s the worst position to be in: to know you’re going to get laid off in the future, then have it happen about 2.5 weeks early.

Before we knew it, it was over and we were out of jobs and everything felt very up in the air. Everything is still very confusing and there’s a lot going on.

But that’s not really the point of this post. The point of this post is this: I knew it was time for something different.

Sometimes, we all know when our time with a company is coming to an end. It might not be a big thing that happens—it might not even be totally negative. It’s just a moment where you think, it’s time for me to move on or this isn’t working for me, even though I love my job. I had had lots of little moments like that before being laid off, but I loved my job, I loved my boss, I loved what I did… and going freelance scared me. Really bad.

Changing jobs scared me too. I was so used to working for one company: I understood my boss and my coworkers and all the processes I needed to be successful.

No matter what, I was in a position where I was going to be incredibly uncomfortable. I got laid off—that sucked! Now I had two options: go freelance or find another job. Both were scary. But both were my only options.

So on July 18, I put on my big girl pants and went for it. I dove in. I sent emails to all the contacts I had. I started posting blog posts and regular posts and articles on LinkedIn (and interacting on LinkedIn in ways I never had before. I even impressed myself, honestly). I made phone calls and signed up for a CRM (seriously). I let people send emails for me, connect me to other people. I got a lot of Nos in the first week. And then in the 2nd week.

I’ve thankfully managed to sign a few clients for the month of August and into September so far. But thankfully, I already had the groundwork covered (by being 25% focused on freelancing even before deciding it was going to be my 100% set up)and I had some contacts who I could thankfully turn to when I needed help.

On Instagram on Tuesday, I asked for any questions people might have about going freelance, or working for myself. I wanted to share a few of them and answer them here to give you a better idea of how I make it work (so far—I’m by no means an expert at this point!) and if you can make it work yourself.

1. What skills do you need to freelance?

This totally depends on what freelance work you are actually doing. I am a freelance content strategist and copywriter. That means, I need the following “hard” skills (that is, the skills that actually allow me to have the expertise to offer my services):

  • Copywriting for digital marketing

  • Copy editing

  • Knowledge of all aspects of copywriting I’m offering (social media, blogs, email marketing, and website content)

  • Strategy writing for all aspects of marketing I’m offering

However, in addition to these hard skills, freelancers universally need soft skills too. Soft skills are not related to the services you offer whatsoever, but rather area entirely focused on customer service and prospecting. Here’s a few examples of soft skills:

  • Networking

  • Customer service

  • Invoicing

  • Sales

Yeah, unfortunately, freelancing includes a lot of sales skills. Thankfully, by working at an agency (and before that, in sales-focused businesses), I have absorbed some basics of sales by osmosis. It’s definitely not my forte, but it is something I know I need to do. Networking is a secondary part of that that has also never been my cup of tea, but is becoming increasingly necessary as time has gone on. And again: sometimes trying something new means being uncomfortable for a while.

2. What do I need to know about getting clients?

The truth is, getting clients is hard. You will have a ton of people reach out for services if you network, advertise yourself, and make an effort—but if those people all end up paying you, I’ll eat my hat. And my socks. And my whole house. Because it’s just not something that happens.

I’ve had a lot of prospects that I was sure would be immediate Yes’s. Without going into too much detail, the first people I reached out to were clients of my work, who I already helped with their marketing writing. I thought it would be a slam dunk to sign them on for at least a few months, even with me as an “interim” solution while they found another agency. Every single phone call went like this:

Me: So the amount I would charge would be $xxx each month, and that includes writing, graphic design, and scheduling.

Them: super sharp intake of breath followed by an intense gasp

Every. Single. Time.

A younger version of myself would have immediately said, “But it’ll be less for you! Ha ha ha! I was just joking!” But I set my rates in a very specific way to ensure that I would have the money I needed to 1) live and 2) pay for all the tools I need. (More on this later.)

I guess what I’m saying is: even if you have everything set up correctly, getting clients can be really difficult. But you can’t let yourself be discouraged. That’s easier said than done, obviously.

Getting clients that work for you requires knowing what kind of clients you want to begin with, knowing how to talk to them, being firm about what your prices and what you need from them to succeed, and perseverance. You know, simple things.

3. What’s the tax situation?

First things first, we’ll found out in January.

Just kidding. The tax situation is this: I found a (freelance) accountant almost immediately and asked a ton of questions. Then I called my local Chamber of Commerce to ask if they knew the process. From there, I was able to determine how to set up my business (as myself) in a way that made sense.

I highly recommend that if you’re thinking of going freelance, and you’re reading this blog post, you call local people to help you. Don’t follow the advice of some random article you find on the internet that tells you what to do specifically. Not only will you make connections with your local government and another local business, you will be able to better understand what you need to do.

Long story short, talk to people you trust about the situation and that means professionals in your specific area. You don’t want to mess up this portion. (I know I definitely don’t; it’s been my number one concern.)

4. How do you set your rates? / How do you budget for a family?

Oof, isn’t this the biggest question? I got probably 20 different versions of this question:

  • How do I set prices?

  • How do I know what to charge?

  • What if I charge too much?

  • What if I charge too little?

The truth is, what you charge will depend on the market rate for services in your area. Unfortunately, that means having knowledge of what other freelancers charge and potentially what agencies are charging. As well, what you charge will depend on your own personal budget. Here’s what I did.

  • I knew that I had to charge what would 1) cover the cost of my workflow products, 2) cover my own bills (aka pay myself a wage that is livable), and 3) allow me to save enough to cover any potential tax burden.

  • I knew I had to charge competitively, but as only one person, I also could not charge as much as a full-scale agency.

  • I knew I needed to charge differently for one-time services versus on-going retainer-type services.

My prices are based almost entirely on how many hours I think something will take, plus how much I think I’ll need to retain for taxes; my hourly rate is based purely on making sure that after taxes, I have enough leftover. I realize that sounds more complicated than it needs to. For the sake of transparency, as of right now, here’s what I charge for everything:

  • $500 full SEO audit for up to 1,000 pages (any huge websites will cost more, obviously)

  • $800 for social media strategy & workflow

  • $800 per month for on-going social media content creation, scheduling, and reporting

  • $500 for blog strategy, plus $250 per blog post including keyword research

  • $50 consult fee to discuss needs

These prices allow me to determine how many things I need to do each month to pay myself a livable wage. Let’s say that at the very least, I need $1500 pay to pay my own bills; that needs I need at least $3000 in client services. That means I have space for:

  • 6 SEO audits

  • 3 social media strategies

  • 3 total social media clients

  • 6 Blog strategies

  • or any combination of them

If there are spaces on my roster, I will post about them to LinkedIn; let’s say I’m at $2000 for the month of September in booked services. So I’d post on LinkedIn that I have space for: 1 social media strategy and 1 blog strategy, or 2 SEO audits.

I hope that makes sense.

(As a note, if I get any comments telling me that my prices are too low/too high, or I shouldn’t share my prices, just an advanced warning: I don’t care what you think!)

(If you’re interested in freelance services, you can send me an email here. I do offer some need-based discounts.)

5. How do you budget for a family?

This is the number one question I got and I totally get it. I have a family, a new house, a car payment, everything. How can I feel secure and stable as a freelancer with that? Knowing that my income is based entirely on my work ethic and hustle for the month before.

The truth is: right now, I don’t really have an answer. Right now, I don’t feel super stable in my freelance business, because it’s very new. I’m sure I will eventually as I get into a rhythm and find a way of making it work for me. The best advice I can give is to set your prices to be fair to you and your business; don’t lower prices just because someone says you should or says they can’t afford you; take jobs that you think will be beneficial to you and your family. And most importantly, work hard and do good work so you get more high quality clients.


Well, that’s it!

Is freelance the right career for you? I think it so depends on you and your circumstances. Only you know the answer to that, but if you are, I’m here and ready to chat. Send me a DM on Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!

The Freelancer's Guide to Email Etiquette

This post originally appeared on my old blog, Ellipsis. It's still an important topic, especially for new freelancers and those just entering the industry. 

I started freelancing in August 2013. It's been a solid 3 years of freelance, through which I've learned a lot. I don't freelance enough to, say, quit my job and take a full-time run at it. But I do a respectable trade. Freelance writing is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's the best way for me to use my talents and be fulfilled at the same time. The thrill of being able to help people start businesses, or advance their businesses, thanks to my writing skills and marketing knowledge is one of the best int he world. 

That being said, there are some things to freelancing that I've learned the hard way. Mostly, if you are doing freelance writing over the Internet for a company or person very far from you, rules of email etiquette. Here are my top 5 rules. 

1. Reply quickly. 

Business owners, social media coordinators, and marketers are busy people. They don't have time to sit around waiting for an email response. If they email you, asking you to write for them or pitching a project idea, reply as soon as you can -- even if you're reply is: I'm at the grocery store, I'll write a longer reply in 15 minutes! It matters... really. 

2. Email as often as you need to, but know when to stop.

Early in my freelance career, I was contacted by a woman launching a new website. She wanted me to write some materials for her and rewrite parts of her website. It was really exciting. I wrote an article for her, sent it along, and... no response. I sent her an email. She replied that she would get back to me. After a few weeks of hearing nothing from her, I sent her a certified letter (per our contract) requesting payment and the materials I'd written to be destroyed due to non-response. Here's the thing: a polite nudge ("hey, if you want this project completed on your timeline, you need to edit the materials I sent along") is one thing. Having to babysit someone who is paying you for a service is totally different. After she received the letter, she sent me a scathing email about how I was "barely 1/4 as busy" as her, how she didn't have time to do such tedious editing work, and she'd expected more from me. It all made me wonder why she'd hired a copywriter in the first place. I used to think I should have just sent her another reminder email, but it's not my job to motivate any owner to do their job. Also: I never got paid for the 40 hours of writing I did. 

3. Keep your emails short.

Sending a potential client a long-winded response to their project proposal isn't a great idea. They don't have time to read you wax poetic about it for 3 paragraphs. I try to keep my emails to one paragraph long--and only three sentences. I read an article about how the average email is too long and that most people stop reading after 3 sentences. So if you have something important to say, say it fast.   

4. Don't pester.

You know how I said to email as often as you need to? Yes, that's true. But don't pester people. You should reply ASAP to proposals... but if you don't hear from someone in three hours, that's not an excuse to send them another email. Remember: they might be busy, just like you, and just because they aren't as good at replying to emails doesn't mean they haven't heard you. Now, if it's been a day or two, email again asking for a quick reply to confirm they've gotten your previous message! 

5. Be polite. Always.

People will be rude sometimes (a lot of times). Don't return the behavior. If you get shorted on money or someone cancels a project halfway through, if a client doesn't like what you've written or acts like a crazy person... it's no excuse to be rude, even if they are! Be polite, be genuine, and accept the things you can't change about people. Taking the high road always makes you seem more professional and that is a positive impact on your reputation! 


cDo you have any email etiquette tips for freelancers?