I can’t believe how much this little brain-child business of mine has grown in the past year. I’m humbled and honored to walk alongside authors, publishers, and business professionals on their publishing journeys and creative project goals! I’ve learned a lot over the past year about what it means to be a freelance editor and writer—and a lot of what I’ve learned has nothing to do with editing or publishing. It’s amazing how our professional lives can spill out into our personal lives!
As a freelancer, I’ve learned the following:
1. YOU CANNOT SWEEP WORK STRESS UNDER THE RUG.
Because I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it’s easy for me to neglect the stress of deadlines or client interactions when five o’clock rolls around. Unfortunately, sweeping stress under the rug means I look completely relaxed on the outside, when I’m actually feeling the pressure and stress on the inside. I can’t totally “leave the office” and adopt the out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude that most people can cling to in the evenings or on the weekends.
As a result, I realized I needed to communicate my deadlines and crazy schedule to my dear husband, who, unfortunately, cannot read my mind. It sounds silly, but it took a while to figure this one out. My coping mechanism to all the stress—and the way I procrastinated—was to pretend the pressure to deliver didn’t exist, and that I was free as a bird. I’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge the pressure for so many reasons. It’s actually freeing to admit when things are a little crazy. And guess what? My husband wants to care for me during the busy seasons and help me carry some of the load, so finally blurting out just how busy I am is actually a huge relief. Dealing with the stress and being honest with myself—and my spouse—removes some of the burden. Imagine that!
2. THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE SAVES LIVES.
Okay, so it doesn’t actually save lives, but I’ve found that timing myself—particularly in twenty-five-minute increments and little breaks in between—is a wonderful way to boost productivity. Editing is a meticulous process that demands total concentration and strains the eyes. Giving myself five-minute breaks or fifteen-minute breaks helps me stick with it in the long run. It really is like a marathon, not a sprint. Having a timer to keep me on track of projects is also immensely helpful—not only to limit distractions, but also to track my hours for future estimates and quotes. I’ve really gotten into a rhythm; I know how long a certain type of editing or project will take me, which really makes all the difference with scheduling.
3. PEOPLE WON’T ALWAYS “GET IT.”
As a freelancer who works from home, people tend to automatically assume I have a ton of flexibility and that I set my own hours. It’s true that I do have some flexibility—I can usually schedule doctors’ appointments during the day and go grocery shopping at 11 a.m.—but that doesn’t always mean I have hours to kill with my friends at the coffee shop or that I’m down with unexpected visits during the work day.
I may work in my PJs most of the time (it’s true!), but I promise you: I am
working hustling. I’ve had to learn that people won’t always understand what it means to work from home as a freelancer, so I need to set appropriate boundaries and protect my home office time.
4. IT’S WORTH IT TO GO THE EXTRA MILE.
I know this is a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s so important to go the extra mile with clients. There’s no greater feeling than exceeding clients’ expectations. If I’m working 59 hours on a project, I want to make it count. Why coast your way through, only to deliver a half-assed job? When you go the extra mile, it is not only satisfying to receive positive feedback, but your clients stick around.
Disclaimer: Going the extra mile ≠ an unhealthy pursuit of perfection.
In my business, editing and revising is all about the process. Sometimes, there are drafts upon drafts before a better product emerges. And guess what? That’s okay. In fact, that’s where the magic happens. One thing I’ve learned as a biz boss lady is that there’s no way to kill off joy and creativity faster than trying to be a perfectionist. Even as an expert in your field, there is always more to learn. In fact, I think it does a huge disservice to your clients to assume otherwise.
Continued education is huge, so don’t stress over reaching that moment when you’ve officially “arrived.” Keep striving toward different goals, refining your process and skills, and giving yourself time and grace to learn new things.
Freelancer friends: How do you manage stress and *own it* as a boss? What wisdom can you share for aspiring freelancers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!