I can’t believe it’s almost a year since I returned to working in an office. When I look back at how my work life has changed since becoming a mum though, it’s not been a straight-forward path from maternity leave to employment.
I took on my first freelance commission, a series of articles for a national newspaper, the month Milin was born. A few months later, I started writing two columns a week for a multinational parenting site. I wrote regular features too, and kept up the freelancing during a short stint back in the newsroom as a staffer.
The day Jasmin was born, I had articles appear in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. I cleared emails and brainstormed ideas while breastfeeding my newborn at night. Freelancing gave me the ability to keep on earning and upskilling while having two children only 18 months apart.
It’s over three and a half years since Milin was born, and while I’m working four days a week now in an office, I still keep up a little freelance work. And, it feels like more and more mothers are doing the same.
Freelancing has given me and my family so much flexibility. What I sometimes struggled with, though, was that I missed having colleagues. I missed the office. I missed bouncing ideas off other people.
I wish I’d known about Hiive when I started out – because I think a lot of these issues wouldn’t have mattered so much.
Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. It’s designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries.
For a writer who works for themself, it’s the perfect place to showcase a portfolio and hear about new leads. But it’s also a lovely little place to build a community. For all of us freelancers who sometimes want to discuss projects and ideas with people but don’t necessarily have a network of people around us – it’s perfect. If you’re looking for people to work with or embark upon creative projects with – you can see their portfolios and talk about things with them, all through Hiive.
Hiive would have been brilliant for me when I started writing freelance. Even though I had nearly a decade of working as a journalist in newspapers behind me, I didn’t have much confidence in putting myself out there creatively, for myself. The community that you can build at Hiive would have helped.
Now that I’m into my fourth year of combining freelance writing with motherhood, I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learnt along the way. I know so many new mums decide freelancing will offer them the flexibility employment won’t – so I hope some of these help!
1. Know that you have someone backing you. I don’t mean financially – I mean emotionally. Whether it’s your own mum, your husband, or a career mentor, have someone by your side cheering you on. It’s hard as a freelancer to deal with lapses of confidence – but having someone who believes in you (even when you don’t) will help you keep going.
2. Don’t just have one cheerleader – build a community of them. Ok, so this isn’t about getting your entire netball team to write great reviews about you on your website – it’s about finding like-minded people to connect with. It might be building a creative swarm around you on Hiive, whatever it is, a network of contacts to bounce ideas off, share contacts with and turn to for advice is invaluable.
3. Be strict with your timing. It’s so easy to work at every spare minute – because if you don’t, you don’t get paid. But allocate yourself set work hours when you have childcare and stick to them. It might be that you work every night from 8pm-midnight (I used to do this). It might be that you get three hours every Saturday morning. Whatever it is, don’t do the housework, don’t agree to pop to the post office… it’s your time to work and earn. Make it count.
4. Take time off. Chances are that as a freelancing working mum you work late, sleep little, and survive on coffee. Remember though, that if you’re knackered at the end of the week – you won’t make that deadline. Also, a few hours off at the weekend will mean time with your children – and that’s way more fun than working.
5. Believe in yourself, and make others believe in you too. Know what you’re brilliant at. I’m a trained journalist, I’ve only ever been paid to write. I was never going to make a living as jewellery designer (although that would have been lovely). Do what you know, ace it, believe you can ace it, and go out there with your head held high.
If you’ve got any other tips, I’d love to hear them!
*This is a sponsored post.