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Freelance = Feast or Famine?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

I have been doing freelance work for about 10 years. Overall I have done okay with it - especially when I had really little kids. Now everybody is in school and I am getting a bit worn out on the "feast or famine" nature of it.

 

Last year - I was slammed during summer vacation, the week before Christmas and Spring Break and had tons of weeks when the kids were in school and I had nothing.

 

Lately I have had no work and now it looks like I am going to be pressed into 70 plus hour work weeks.  I am totally stressing about what is coming while I actually have nothing to do right now. Does anyone else have this sort of work cyce and how do you deal with it? (Both emotionally and financially)

post #2 of 8

I have been freelancing for about 12 years now. My schedule is steadier that than, but I'm in the work crush mode right now. Emotionally it is tough - I am stressed a lot and worry a lot. Do you read Lifehacker? I sometimes come across good tips there. These two have helped me:

http://lifehacker.com/a-3-step-alternative-to-a-machine-like-workday-1465085719

http://lifehacker.com/how-long-to-nap-for-the-biggest-brain-benefits-1251546669 (Yes, I frequently nap during the day!)

 

In the purely practical sense, even though you don't have work right now, but could you prep other stuff in anticipation of the work soon to come? Cook up some meals to put in the freezer, arrange some extra childcare for that time (I take your kids after school this week when I'm off; you take mine next week when I'm swamped), have coffee/lunch with a friend that you will not have time to do later, set up paperwork/bills, so you don't have to worry about it in the middle of the crush, etc.

 

Financially - not sure. I was never very good at evening out peaks and valleys, and now I am able to at least pay myself a set amount each month. Maybe someone else will have some tips.

 

Good luck to you!

post #3 of 8

How is it going, wildmonkeys?

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for checking in!

 

It has gone like I thought it would and I am now completely swamped :dizzy My work weeks should go from 60ish back to about 35 by the middle of March and at this point it looks like I might wrap up my current projects at the end of June and then try not to line anything up over the summer.

 

I should have taken your advice and gotten ahead on Christmas, but I was nervous to spend money before I actually started working. I am trying very hard to shut off the computer after work and hangout with the kids until dh can get home and take over, but I do think they are getting the short end of the stick while things are so crazy.

post #5 of 8

Oh, I didn't get ahead on Christmas either, and Trader Joe's has been the lucky recipient of a lot of grocery dollars for quick meals. My crunch time was all of November and first week of December (and will be again mid-January through March probably). It's hard to think of Christmas in October when I'm still putting together Halloween costumes!

 

Anyway, best of luck to you and do check out Lifehacker - they have some interesting tips here and there that can smooth the way. Maybe we should start another more general - tips for freelance work overload times?

post #6 of 8

Wildmonkeys yes! I've been freelancing for about 13 years (with a few full time jobs in the mix) and this is my biggest struggle. And I've done it all without kids so I can't imagine this routine with kids! I'm due Jan 14 so I'll know soon enough. 

 

Is it one contract job taking up all your time or a number of projects adding up? I have found that taking on too many smaller projects gives me the most problems. I love the thought of all that money rolling in but when I'm in the middle of it and stressing out (without kids) I'm absolutely hating my life and have nothing but complaints. I've done well with limiting the week and absolutely refuse to work more that 40 hours, mainly for health reasons. Of course once in a while I'll have a crazy two weeks but if it extends I'm in trouble. If I work longer hours, my body hurts, I have to go to acupuncture/chiropractor (money could go towards other things) and my happiness takes a hit so for me it's not worth it. As long as my bills are paid and my husband is making income as well it's enough. 

 

What do you do with the kids while you're working? Other WAHMs have told me to hire a nanny or sitter b/c working and caring for a child just doesn't happen; conference calls, deadlines, etc. Some women don't have the luxury of having a community of people around to help but maybe someone can come over and hang with the kids for a couple hours while you prepare some freezer meals or get caught up? I wish I could suggest more there but I have no experience with juggling work and kids yet. The BEST thing you can do daily though is take at least 10-20 min and just quietly breathing/meditating. It's hard but when life is nuts it's my saving grace. 

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparatikness View Post
Is it one contract job taking up all your time or a number of projects adding up? I have found that taking on too many smaller projects gives me the most problems. I love the thought of all that money rolling in but when I'm in the middle of it and stressing out (without kids) I'm absolutely hating my life and have nothing but complaints.

My problem is taking on a large month or two project and then trying to fit all of the regular smaller jobs in as well. Don't have a great solution to that, though. It only happens about once a year, and this year I outsourced part of the larger project to a colleague.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparatikness View Post
 

What do you do with the kids while you're working? Other WAHMs have told me to hire a nanny or sitter b/c working and caring for a child just doesn't happen; conference calls, deadlines, etc.

My DH was home with the kids. No way I could have worked as much as I did without that arrangement. Another thing that is helpful is babysitting/childcare trades. I have done that for after-school care since my younger one started school. I take another family's kids 2 days after school, and they take mine 2 days. Fridays are "off." That way I get in two "full" days of work until 5:30pm (instead of only until 3:30pm when school lets out).

post #8 of 8

Depending on what kind of freelance work you're doing, there's a site called patreon.com that may be worth looking into. It's basically a way for artists to get paid a monthly wage by fans to help support them. I only know a few people who are using it and they all started fairly recently, so I don't know how good it is- but if any of you are doing the sort of work that you have people who would want to give a monthly wage to help you continue doing your work without the feast or famine problem- it might be good to check out.

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