Despite my own previous Luddite tendencies, I have embraced the digital age whole-heartedly. Technology is fantastic. I definitely believe that we should be wary of developing it and maintain a healthy relationship with artificial intelligence, using it only as a means to an end rather than the end itself. But I celebrate the accomplishments which access to power and information have achieved – because now, people from all around the world can learn about an endless variety of other subjects, interact with one another, drive social movements and connect and collaborate. And not the least for me, I am grateful for how the digital age has expanded my opportunities to expand my focus and allow me to combine career and family.
Following My Passion
As a young mother, it’s fair to say that like many women and men, I have a lot on my plate. I launched into a writing career before I finished my cultural studies and literature degree at university, and once graduated, I prioritized this field above all else. I also wanted to travel on an intense level, but put this on hold to drive my career forward. Of course, family calls – and I decided to stay at home, at least for a time, to help raise my children. I didn’t want to sacrifice what I had achieved thus far in acquiring contacts, getting published and gaining experience in journalism, so I thought about the ways in which I could brainstorm my options. The first thought which came to me was freelancing, naturally – a challenging but rewarding field which I could use alongside raising even small children.
Pros & Cons
At first glance, freelancing seems like the dream job. It’s romanticised greatly – we all love the aspiring writer trope who is looking to make their big break and then move into a chic flat in the trendy part of town after living in a scrubby den for months, or living as a recluse in a cabin in the woods. You get to be glamorised in popular publications. You can make lots of money. You decide your own schedule, and can work in the comfort of your own home. You wine and dine with the best, and even get to travel. The further you go in the field, the more opportunities open up for you.
Of course, it’s not always easy. You get pitches rejected, you’re constantly chasing after people not only for a response to your work but for payment, which sometimes – unless you’re working through a regular agency – doesn’t come for months at a time. When you are working for several clients at once, you have to adopt a very staunch and disciplined schedule, but still be prepared to drop everything and pump up your adrenaline to hit an immediate deadline (which thankfully, I find exciting). You don’t really get holidays or weekends as often as you like. It’s not as social as you’d like it to be. You have to accommodate, learn fast, work fast, but guarantee high quality at all times, remain self-critical, and be prepared to start over from scratch. It’s work, work, work – and I have admit, at first I wasn’t sure if I could handle it as well as looking after two young children, but I made the pieces fit together. And I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world.
There are some real advantages to freelancing from home which far outweigh the other aspects. Firstly, provided you are disciplined, you get a serious amount of work done. I found ways to coordinate this around my kid’s naptimes, playtimes, and other times where I could find someone else to watch over them when I needed more quiet to concentrate – in fact, freelancing is one of the most accommodating jobs when it comes to motherhood. All of your interactions are productive because correspondence is entirely professional, there’s no office politics, and you’re not engaging in distracting conversations every second. You do have some relative power over your schedule, and while you must be willing to negotiate, you can set the groundwork if you do the initial pitching. You save on the expense of commuting as well as time, and you can always fit in the social aspect in other ways. The trick is to just understand your limits and your needs.
[pullquote]freelancing from home is something that we need to encourage[/pullquote]
I spent much of my time doing agency work which paid well and regularly, but also designated time to chase after other opportunities. As my networking increased, even by devoting just a few minutes to social media each day, I was able to maximise my potential for getting freelance contracts. When a big project was at hand, I learned how to say no to smaller tasks with courtesy, keeping the door open but unafraid to keep my capabilities in focus. And while I mourned the decline of the local paper, I embraced the vast world of the web and its treasure trove of free information. Of course, technology – my camera, my laptop, smartphone and internet – made this all possible in ways that simply wouldn’t have been available a few decades ago. The digital age has done so much to change the landscape of society and the workplace, especially for women. It’s not about having to choose between a career and a family anymore, and that’s not only because men are rightfully having the option to take on a more equal role. There are endless opportunities out there to conduct business in a way which is profitable and efficient. In short, freelancing from home is something that we need to encourage and promote more, as it is one of the most lucrative fields that return some control to the lives of individuals, vs. the conventional capital model. It’s demanding, yes, even exhausting – but it gives you freedom, control, and more time to spend with your loved ones – and you can’t put a price on that.