There's no denying the attractions of the freelance life. You can choose your own projects, work your own hours, and enjoy a sense of freedom way beyond anything you'd experience in most ordinary careers. As a mom, having this flexibility can be a game changer.
One downside, of course, is that there's no safety net. Your future relies on you and you alone. This can be a terrifying thought if you're considering walking away from a conventional job and embarking on life as an independent entrepreneur.
However, if you're wavering in your decision to take the leap and become a freelancer, remember that lots of people have already made a success of this career path. To join them, you just need to go forward with your eyes fully open, and your preparation done to a tee.
Research Your Chosen Field
Knowing what you're getting into is vital. Your choice of freelancing field can mean the difference between a successful career and a life of frustration. Find out how much competition you're likely to face, how much paying work there is available on average, and what the market rate for your services will be.
Be honest with yourself: is this going to be a viable business? Have you genuinely got what it takes to stand out from the crowd and win enough work to keep you busy? Will your clients pay well enough to give you a decent life outside work, or will every waking hour be spent chasing a few extra dollars? Freelance work is always going to involve a degree of uncertainty, but if the answers to these questions don't stack up then it's better to find out now, before you're deeply committed.
Be Prepared Financially
Every freelance entrepreneur experiences peaks and troughs in their income. Before launching into your new career, ensure you have around six months' expenses money in the bank. When you're working hard to build a new business, the last thing you need is to be worrying about making your mortgage or rent payments. Also thoroughly research the extra financial commitments you'll take on as a freelancer. You'll be responsible for your own tax arrangements (and this may mean hiring professional help), and you won't be enjoying any employer-provided healthcare benefits. While this is important for everyone — it's even more critical when you're a mom and have financial responsibilities to your kids.
Start Sensibly to Test the Water
If at all possible, consider keeping up some regular part-time work to have at least a little money coming in until your freelance career gains traction. Also, be wary of over-committing yourself in your desire to hit the ground running, and only take on projects you absolutely know you can handle. Deadline pressure can be a great motivator for a seasoned freelance entrepreneur, but can make the less experienced freeze in terror or inevitably means that a kid is going to get sick right about deadline time. Always include an extra time buffer for all those unexpected things being a mom can throw your way.
Set realistic rates for your early jobs. Don't price yourself out of the market — you haven't yet got the experience to command a premium — but try not to work for a pittance just to build a portfolio. You'll find it very hard to escape this mindset later on, not to mention the difficulty of raising rates with existing clients to a more realistic level once you've become more established.
Be Ready to Work Hard but Stop Working
No matter what the other benefits of independent work, very few freelancers fulfill the dream of working part-time for a full-time wage on completely their own schedule. There's usually clients who need things done by a deadline, new launches to keep on schedule or the project that goes terribly pear-shaped. Not to mention, it's very easy to let work creep into your personal time to the point you never feel fully off the clock. You do need to have a lot of drive and determination to succeed as a freelancer, that said try to make boundaries so you aren't working all the time.
Think About the Social Side
The freedom of working on your own also comes with an obvious drawback — it's a lonely job at times. If you enjoy going into the office and getting some time with adults, you might not enjoy being stuck at home. Honestly consider your personal style and try to make friends with some other freelance moms to get their take.
They don't have to be in your field - many of the issues freelancers face are common across all industries - and they don't even have to be in your area; the web is a wonderful reducer of distance. Simply having someone who understands your way of life is a great start — plus if you do decide to go freelance, having a network is extremely important.
Despite all these warnings, most freelance moms say they'd love to be independent and don't miss the days in the office. Setting about your career in the right way from the very beginning will help ensure your future success.