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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What Does "Full-time" Freelancing Really Mean?

I've been a full-time freelancer for nearly 17 years now (hard to believe!) but this doesn't mean I work full-time hours. In fact, for me one of the biggest advantages of freelancing is that I can make a full-time living working far fewer than 40 hours/week. During the last couple of years, I've worked between 10 and 20 hours/week and plan to continue to do so until my daughter is in school full-time; then I'll ramp up, hours-wise.

I often say it's not dollars/word that matters when it comes to freelancing; it's dollars/hour. In the same vein, it's not the number of hours I work that is important--it's how productive I am with that time. I aim for an hourly rate of $100, although sometimes I make less than that,a and sometimes significantly more. And that rate helps me make what I want during my working hours. It also means that I can be spend more time with my kids, as well as give me time to pursue other professional interests.  

I'm juggling multiple careers at the moment. In addition to freelancing and ghostwriting, I own and operate Improvise Press, which publishes books to help creative people make money from their passions. (Don't forget--through year's end you'll get 50 percent off of print editions if you use the discount code CHICKENS.) And in January, I started working at my local Y as a personal trainer and I love it. 

This summer I got certified to teach Les Mills Body Pump classes, which I'm now doing at two Ys, and somehow I wound up teaching a circuit class once a week, too. I typically have about five clients I'm training at any given time, and I teach two-five/week depending on the week and sub schedules. The money is nowhere near what I make freelancing and ghostwriting but I love the interaction with clients and being part of something bigger than myself. I've trained clients ranging from high school athletes to seniors post-spinal-surgery and it's rewarding emotionally if not financially. 

However, I'm looking for ways to combine both better. This year I'll be focusing on finding more content marketing gigs in the fitness arena (for obvious reasons) and I've been working for one publishing client as their fitness expert. It's great because I no longer have to interview an "expert" to write the workouts or the Q and As; I am the expert. And that means I can make a great hourly rate--for example, I'm writing a workout now that will take less than an hour for $300. No, I can't make that kind of money training people but it definitely informs my writing work and makes me want to do more of the same! 

So, while I call myself a full-time freelancer, I'm anything but. My plan for the coming year is to continue to do pursue multiple careers, spending about 10-15 hours freelancing/ghostwriting and running Improvise Press, and 5-10 hours training/teaching. It's challenging to "do it all" and be an involved mom, too, but I've found that these different careers use different parts of my brain/personality/etc, and make me happier overall. To me, that's one more huge advantage of freelancing--the freedom to spend my time the way I want to. 

Readers, what about you? Are you really a "full-time" freelancer? If not, how else do you spend your "work" hours?