Freelancing, Working From Home and Saying No

In September of 2004 Florida was hit with four hurricanes back to back. My husband and my father-in-law needed to go down and help them recover. A month into the project we knew they would be gone for several more months. After over four years working as a corporate marketing guru, I quit my job and flew to Florida from Ohio to help. Just a few days later I was offered a job with one of the contracting crews working the recovery efforts. It was my first official freelance gig.

When our son was born a year later I knew that I couldn’t go back to working for someone else.

Once you’ve had a taste of freelancing and know the reality of it, it’s impossible to sit in an office from 8 to 4 every day. I had happily worked that way for years until I realized it wasn’t my only option. I could have been a stay at home mom and left freelancing in the dust after our son was born, but I had worked hard for my education and my experience in corporate America and that random gig in Florida gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my passion on my own terms.

It took me a while to find my footing, but by the end of my first year as a freelancer I had replaced (and surpassed) my corporate income and I had done it during nap time and after our son went to bed.

When I first started freelancing, I had no idea there was so much work to be had, but by the end of 2011 we had a total of three children and I was so busy from years of clients and referrals that I had a team of 30 work at home moms working with me.  I was working 18 hours a day and was mentally and physically exhausted. Rather than increasing my prices to reduce clients or simply telling them no, I tried to take them all on. In late 2011, after 8 weeks of being so sick that I couldn’t get off the couch, I realized that I had pushed myself to far. I sat myself up on the couch, pulled out my laptop and sent a mass email to all of my clients telling that that I was retiring. I kept only one client, the one client I couldn’t let go because I loved her to much.  

After taking two months off, I opened a business I thought would allow me a little more time to be a mom and a lot less time working. But, when you’re a marketing guru, things tend to take off rather quickly and unexpectedly. I learned, once again, that it’s easy to get busy. The key is to know how to allow yourself to NOT be busy by learning how to say no when clients or customers ask you for something you know will overextend you. The perfect client or customer will understand that’s it’s important for you to do your best work and sometimes that means doing their work a little later in the week (or even later that month).

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Krista is the mom of three boys and a freelance social media and internet marketing guru and graphic designer. She writes about her work on her blog KristaConway.com.

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