Sometimes freelancing is rough // Sometimes freelancing is rough

It’s important to me, in sharing my journey to freelancing and the work I’m doing now, to paint an honest picture of what it’s like after escaping the nine to five. I am always thankful to be able to work where I please, when I please, and to choose the clients I work with, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

Some days are rough. As motivated as I can be, I still have days where I just don’t feel like it. I don’t want to answer the emails or be creative or code for hours and I miss being able to just show up and get paid anyway. Now, if I don’t do the work there is no money.

I’ve had to dig into my savings, over Christmas when I spent a little extra to visit my brother in California and last month when the projects I was counting on to pay my bills took longer than expected. Those are the reasons I built myself a safety net before I left, but it’s still scary to see it shrink by any amount.

I’ve also been struggling to nail down a sleep schedule. It’s 1:30AM and I’m inspired to write, so I’m just doing it. I’ve gotten very bad about sleeping in until 11am and staying in my pajamas all day. I’ve realized that if I get up and get dressed I do feel more productive and being productive helps keep me in a positive mood. (Though I, like Mandy, have grown to hate wearing a bra and there’s generally a pile of them on the end of the couch.)

I have that feeling that I think most freelancers struggle with for a while of constantly needing to  create and build and update and promote and if I stop something is going to fall through the cracks. But I know that if I don’t slow down and focus on the things that provide the most value I will be what falls through the cracks.

It’s becoming more and more apparent how important it is that I make time for my workouts, give myself a decent amount of time to unwind at night, leave the house at least every other day (I’m a mega homebody), make plans with friends, take my vitamins and eat well.

I am the product and the producer, the designer, the developer, the accountant, the marketer, the administrative assistant, and the caretaker of me so I have to put extra effort into keeping my shit together.

But I am reminded that it’s worth it on days when I get a call for a huge show (seriously, my 8th grade self is so stoked) and I can say yes immediately and not worry about an afternoon rehearsal or a 6PM call. I love that I can cook myself breakfast, lunch and dinner or take a break in the middle of the day to walk Slayer or workout.

For those of you who are working to make the escape, know there are still a ton of bumps in the road and you will work your butt off more than you every have before, but the bad days will be matched and hopefully outweighed by the days that you go to sleep feeling really damn lucky.



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  1. says

    I just don’t think working from home/freelancing could ever be something I could do. I actually thrive off the structure of 9 to 5, and I like leaving my home to go to work. Otherwise I’d become a complete hermit and I feel like I would never get anything done. I admire people who can do this lifestyle successfully!

    • says

      It definitely comes down to personality – I’m so happy to never leave my house, but I can see how someone else might love going to work and being around people.

  2. says

    I love posts like this … I *so* appreciate your honesty. I have a long way to go before I could possibly quit my full time job and go 100% freelance, but even trying to juggle work + freelance is challenging sometimes. It’s nice to hear how others are making it work!

  3. says

    Very honest, very inspiring. I would love to be a full time photographer one day. But the more I work… the more bills I rack up haha (catch-22). Cheers to you for pulling it off successfully :)

  4. says

    This post gives me a lot of hope for when I finally break off and become an entrepreneur/freelancer/independant. The honest look is refreshing and awesome – I’m really excited to start living on my own terms, and not have any boss but myself. :D

  5. says

    Freelancing with a toddler at home is . . . rough. Hahaha My house is always a mess, I am continually feeling stretched in all directions . . . and I never get any time to myself, ever. I do sometimes miss the structure of a 9 to 5 job because I feel like the roles of mom, freelancer, and etc. are just completely blurred. But at the same time, at this stage in my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • says

      You’re a mega superstar freelancer! I cannot even imagine trying to include a child in my day, so if you’ve got any scheduling tips I’ll definitely take them.

  6. says

    This is so true. The skills I need to be successful working on my own from home (as a freelancer) are very different from most of the skills that helped me succeed in an office job. Making the time for working out and getting out of the house is difficult when there is always something else I could be doing and I never feel caught up. Thanks for the post and congratulations on the big show!

    • says

      Thank you! Once I get the 100% it’s a go I’ll be able to share. Also, random…I really love all the ballet photos on your blog. Makes me want to get even more bendy!

  7. says

    I think 9-5 or freelancing – it both has its upsides and downsides. As long as you wholeheartedly stand behind your decision, it’s all worth it.

  8. says

    As someone who is still stuck in the 9 to 6 (yeah, six) routine, I appreciate the honesty you share about Freelancing. It’s still something I dream of being in the position of one day but I’m also bracing myself for the freakout moments too.

  9. says

    You are an incredibly inspiring person to me. Somehow “getting a proper job” has always felt like a death sentence to me, and I’m currently working on setting up as a freelance graphics and web-designer. I know it’s not going to be easy. I have the luck of still living at home with my parents supporting and feeding me, but I really want to move out soon, I feel I’m getting too old to still live at home…

    Reading about how you “made your excape” has been a great inspiration and given me hope, that maybe it can work.

    I’m probably still very naive about the whole business, but I really hope to be able to make a living off something I enjoy doing and not having to just fill my hours for a paycheck. Yes, just showing up and getting payed for it can be a relief… but I really hope there’s more to life than that…

    I’m wishing you all the best with your work and hope that the kinks iron themselves out and that you stay strong through difficult times. I get the impression though, that you’re that kind of person, so I’m not that worried ;)

  10. says

    I love how you share both sides of the coin. Working for yourself can be amazing, and it can be so! frustrating! I’ve found that being a homebody is a huge help since I moved to working at home over the holidays. I love the time at home, and it makes going out even more fun.

  11. says

    Hi Sarah,
    I love reading your posts about freelancing. I’m currently trying to build my design portfolio and am very interested in helping others, but at the same time i’m still trying to balance looking for and praying that I get hired for a full-time job in design, social media marketing etc. Jess Classy gives me that escape and the headache all at the same time. I’m not even a freelance designer and I give myself headaches by staying on the computer all day because i’m so excited to create something new. I have had so much inspiration around me that design makes me want to “scream and shout” (not necessarily let it all out). It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. You, as well as the select few of my favorite freelance designers give me hope to help people brand themselves or their businesses into something better. Mahalo for your numerous blogs that give me inspiration to keep pushing (and that it’s okay to sit down and be nerdy all day).

    xx Jess

    • says

      Thanks Jessika! I’m definitely glued to my computer all day multiple days a week because of all these darn ideas ;) Good luck to you & thanks for reading!