How To Be Self Employed And Not Go Crazy
As a freelance writer I often spend hours alone at home with very little interaction with the outside world aside from social media or emails. There are ways to make our lives easier so we don’t go crazy.
You don’t have to stay home
Self employment seems like a great thing until you’ve done it a while and felt isolated and sealed off from the outside world. Some opt for a part time job just to get out of the house for a while.
According to People Style Watch magazine over 30% of the labor force are self employed workers. The new trend is for a freelancer to team up renting office space with several other people so they aren’t completely isolated.
Some writers opt for an office away from home simply because some people have the opinion if you are home you are available for volunteer work, babysitting or carpooling their kids. You are home; you must have time. They don’t realize that just because a person is home all day doesn’t mean they aren’t working.
You don’t have to rent office space, there are coffee shops with WiFi, the library, and even the mall. If you can work with distractions or people talking your options open up for even more places to work. Personally, I need a quiet environment. The library usually has study rooms you can use where there is no noise and they have an abundance of resource material for research.
The best scenario is to have your own office at home but if you aren’t fortunate to have that at least designate an area for your work space and turn off the phone during the day or at least ignore the calls.
I have a writing room and unplug the house phone line in that room. The answering machine picks up any daytime calls. I have a cell phone for any emergencies that may arise. Any business phone calls go through my cell phone.
The only people that call home phone are mostly telemarketer robots that don’t follow the do not call list rules or politicians. I don’t need to talk to either of those people, I’m busy writing; the answering machine will deal with them.
By the way, you can deduct utility cost from any utilities used from your office. You have to do a little math to figure that up: square foot minus room measurements will usually get you close enough.
Prorate cost of computer, tablets, pens and any other cost you use for your writing, it’s all deductible. Gas to and from writing destination is also tax deductible. Keep records of all cost and expenses, you’ll need it come tax time.
Kids at home
This is a bit tricky for those of you with young kids but those with older ones can make them understand that mom or dad is working and cannot be bothered unless the house is burning down.
If you have young ones they should not be left unattended under any circumstances.
My teenage daughter answers the door and phone, screening my calls and will tell them, “My mom is working and cannot be disturbed.” She is very good at her job and is rewarded accordingly.
Take breaks, you should be anyway, to have lunch with your kids and talk for an hour. This way they can discuss anything that is on their mind they couldn’t tell you about while you were working such as the cat’s latest hairball.
Taking a break is important for your mind and body, move around, stretch and rest your eyes. It’s easy to get busy and forget. Having kids or dogs around helps us remember to take a break once in a while. My dog stares at me when it’s lunch time.
Time with friend and family
As far as having more or less time with friends or family that is entirely up to you. The beauty of being self employed is that you are your own boss and choose your own hours. The problem is in the beginning you won’t make much money so you’ll need to work many hours before you see any income. Eventually things get better but in the beginning don’t expect to get rich if you are a freelance writer. You have to be self motivated or it won’t happen. Nobody gets paid to do nothing.
Everything is potential writing material: that conversation you had with your friends, a family situation or a neighborhood drama. Just be sure to change the names and story a bit so you don’t upset the people close to you. Scenarios you found funny or noteworthy may not amuse your sister or best buddy. Just because you think they aren’t reading doesn’t mean they don’t.
If you can’t make yourself work, you might want to rethink your career choices. The beauty of being self employed is that you don't have a supervisor standing over you but the truth is many people need that to get things done.
If making yourself sit for hours in front of a keyboard isn’t working out for you then you aren’t going to make it. We write, rewrite and write some more polishing, deleting and adding many times before posting our work for the world to see. If you don’t have the dedication it takes you won’t make it as a writer. There are many people out there trying to work from home thinking it’s easy cash in your pocket, the truth is it’s not in the beginning and if you lack self motivation it’s not going to work. Early on you'll need to work hard to put any money in your pocket.
Put a picture of your motivation on your desk or bulletin board, whether it’s your kid’s college fund, a new car, a trip to your favorite travel destination or saving for retirement use those as your reason for keeping your butt in that seat.
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