Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Freelance Life: It's The Real Deal

Let me precurse this entire piece by saying, this is my venting session. This is a chance for me to rant and an opportunity for me to let people in on some secrets that, I'm sure, they're just dying to know. This post has been sitting as a draft for several months now. But recently, I was inspired to change it a little and finish the damn thing. Because, recently, I was yet again insulted by what was supposed to be an educator, a retired teacher that was supposed to have spent her adult life encouraging and inspiring a plethora of young adults. Well, she never inspired me, and by now, she's insulted me one too many times. 

If you know nothing about my job, aka: "what I do for a living," then you may be a part of the giant mass of people that ask me what I "do" and give me that squishy-faced look that just means you're confused. Allow me to provide you with some advice. 
  1. Stop asking people what they "do," when you want to know what their job is. Instead, just ask what their job is! I do a lot, every single day, and every single day is different, so when I'm asked what I "do," the list can get quite hefty. 
  2. When you don't necessarily understand or know what someone does, ask them to explain it, or simply tell them you're not sure, instead of saying, "Oh." It's insulting and dismissive.
  3. Don't assume that if a woman is not a teacher or a nurse that she doesn't have a "real job." Teachers and nurses (and the like) should be respected and praised, but just because we all didn't travel the more frequented route doesn't mean we don't have a work schedule or make money, or have a "real job."
Firstly, I graduated at the very top of my college with a B.A. in Communication. I graduated with honors (the very top, the very highest of honors), Summa Cum Laude, which I can prove because they printed it, nice and big, onto my diploma. I chose to take the road less traveled because I had parents that encouraged me to do what I enjoyed. But the key here is that I had and made the opportunity. I got accepted to Johns Hopkins University, their Masters program for Communication. And I got in, not having to take the GRE because my GPA was high during undergrad. So, despite my blonde hair, hot pink lipstick and a deep affection for sparkly clothing, I'm a smarty-pants and a hard worker. 

My day-to-day revolves around my freelance work. I have a constant schedule of articles that I have a deadline for, that I get paid for. Yes, I have the blessing (and sometimes a curse) of making my own schedule. But that doesn't mean I sit on my butt whenever I'm home, eating Oreos in front of the couch just "typing" away on my computer. In fact, when I'm home, I barely just take time to sit on the couch and do nothing. Not only do I keep up with my deadlines, but I am constantly on the lookout and in connection with others forming new relationships and looking for new opportunities, every single day. If there was a job that you literally had to "hustle" for, it's for freelance opportunities. But then again, one of the jobs I've always wanted to have - along with being a published author and freelance guru, was to be a mother, and this scheduling will be a huge blessing when that blessing comes to call. (Knock knock: it called, and it's a huge blessing).

I work mostly alone. Which means that I rarely have anyone to bounce ideas off of or to ask if I'm doing this or that correctly. I'm my own boss, which again is a blessing and curse because when I fail, then it's a failure that's all my own. And yes I fail, I've gotten more rejections than opportunities, but that's life, and because I'm in a creative field, whether it's a design project or a black and white journalistic idea, the chances are not endless.

My work is at home. That means when I do have time to just relax, I feel guilty. Instead of resting, I could be working and being more productive, which is why those Oreos are rarely eaten on the couch in a time of nothingness. Instead, they're eaten during an article or an outline. But, yes, they're eaten because the pantry is only a few feet away. 

I've had to negotiate my worth time and time again, for every job. And sometimes I lose jobs or don't take amazing opportunities because it doesn't pay enough. I'm also juggling more than one job at a time, which means I'm juggling more than one client and more than one type of direction.

I shouldn't feel guilty about being able to do and work on my time, because I've created this opportunity for myself. This type of work rarely "just happens," but instead, it's worked hard for. So, the next time someone gives me a side glance or a smart comment like, "Oh, so you just type on the computer," I can point them to the direction of this post. Again, this is my rant, my venting and my small bit of frustration with those that keep within the confines of a very small box outlined too many years ago. 

I also want to clarify that I love writing and creating content for different websites and blogs. I've made everywhere from $10 an hour to $1 a minute, to 60 GBP (which translates into roughly $93 depending on the day) an hour. It's eventful, it's fun, but my goal is to not stay at this pace my entire life. I will push to continue to grow and find new (and fun) opportunities, all the while I'll also be creating some behind-the-scenes surprises. So, when my first book is published and on the shelves, I'll also send it, free of charge to all those who gave me more than my fair share of disdain.

To my fellow freelancers and blogger entrepreneurs, today's applause goes to you because I'm sure you've had to deal with very similar situations.

2018 Update:

I read all that in the voice of 25-year-old Grace and cry. 

She was creating it. She was hustling and making connections.

Now, she's truly made a career out of a very small seed that she planted herself. A career that helps her take care of herself and her daughter. A career that allowed her to stay afloat - comfortably - after some big life changes. A career that she's proud of and has built a hefty resume and portfolio from. A career that paid her for a full month of work but gave her no deadlines when her Dad passed away because they valued her and had created such a great relationship - with her bosses living in Canada and New York - that's kind of amazing. A career that made her enough money that she actually had to pay back taxes for 2017 (I was annoyed with this but kinda of proud that I had risen so much on the ladder). 

And now 29-year-old Grace is taking on her career and adding graduate school to the list. She's terrified. She's worried about getting through it all. She's made pros and cons list and fought with the idea of buying a new home during all of the change. Instead, she's creating stability for Claire and in just four semesters she'll be able to add some more goodness to her resume, some more passion to her every day, some more security for Claire, and that's when the freshest start of all will come. 

She'll be back in 2020 for another update. On her career. On School. And on that second book.



  1. I absolutely know what you mean. It seems that still in today's world, as a woman particularly you must have a really good reason to be working and because you are working it better be a "noble" woman job. As far as we think we've come we really haven't but hopefully we will one day. The good news is the communities of freelancers are growing and with that networks and support to as you say "bounce ideas off".

    People are always off put by the idea of "other" or "different" so a job like a blogger seems like a hobby to them because they have no idea what it deeply entails.

    Kudos on the post!

    -Chrissy of Crashbeauty.com

    1. Thanks Chrissy, I always love hearing from you and thanks for the constant support on here. Another misconception, is that THIS is my full-time job, whereas Her Umbrella is the fun part for me :), if they only knew ... Thanks for being "different" with me! ;)

  2. Never a problem Grace, I WISH blogging was my full-time job but currently I'm a freelance web developer/designer so believe me I feel the frustration. (Not that I enjoy it any less.) Family just rolls their eyes and says when are you going to get a "Real" job. They haven't really adjusted to the current times in my opinion.

    Keep trucking and being awesome!

    -Chrissy of Crashbeauty.com

  3. Excellent insight, Grace. Thanks for sharing! I think you exhibit the perfect and necessary qualities of a successful freelancer or self-employed individual—that being, your persistence in your work and your understanding that there is no end. It is a continued push, taking enormous effort and persistence AND acceptance that you will always be growing and learning as you go. You GET that and that's what makes you successful. Awesome, very inspiring!

    1. Thank you so much Kelly, this comment sure started my afternoon off right today :)

  4. Bravo! Great piece. I've been a freelance writer for almost 20 years and people still don't take me seriously. Too bad I can't show them my notebooks full of clips. I guess I could tell them to Google me and see what pops up. But then again, why should I? I know how hard I work!

    1. Thank you Linda, love feeling the support from fellow freelancers who understand, and I'm really glad I ended up posting this piece, it was such a weight lifted. I'm sure, in the future, I'll have more of these similar rants but I'm so happy to know there are wonderful people out there who "get" it.

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