There are few careers that work fairly easily around the demands of a working mum from home. Luckily freelance copywriting is one of them. While you may need to do a bit of juggling at times, if you’re passionate and determined you can find a way to get the best of both worlds – working and being there for your children.
I’m a freelance copywriter with two children, and I have been working from home for the last five years. I worked throughout my second pregnancy and carried on working after my daughter was born, fitting in jobs while she was napping. Now I juggle my busy freelance copywriting projects with a new business – a website to help other working mums.
Over the years I have found a number of ways to make my career successfully work for me, and I hope some of them will help you.
As a mum with young children, your work time is often preciously short, so it’s vital that you make every minute count. And for that you need to be highly organised. You can’t afford to spend 20 minutes hunting down an important document, or chasing a client for missing information. So make sure that you have everything you need to hand before you start work.
Another big part of being organised is identifying your priorities. What’s the most urgent job? Which jobs can be completed quickly, leaving your mind free to tackle a trickier task? I find that a simple, week view diary helps. Each day I write a list of the jobs I need to accomplish – work and personal – that day, and decide what can be done when. As I complete each task I tick it off (giving me a boost of satisfaction). Any that I don’t get done that day, I carry over to the next. I also make sure that I write any new deadline from a client in the diary so I don’t miss it!
While for most people the work day starts around 9am and stops at 6pm, for a freelance copywriter with a family, your work hours are sometimes whenever you can snatch some child-free time! If you’re an early riser, set your alarm early in the morning and make the most of a quiet house to get a couple of hours under your belt before everyone wakes up. If you find your energy is higher in the evening, plan to work once the children are in bed instead. Weekends are a good opportunity to get work done, too. Often on a Saturday morning my partner will take the kids to the beach or cinema for a couple of hours, then we can all enjoy the afternoon together.
Nap times and during pre-school/nursery are other good work opportunities. I also ‘earn’ some work time by taking my daughter for a walk to the park for a couple of hours, then let her watch TV for an hour – giving me the chance to write without feeling guilty that we haven’t done anything together.
If you have friends nearby with children a similar age, you can also swap childcare favours. A freelance designer friend and I often take it in turns to look after the other’s child for a few hours so we can work. Everyone wins – our daughters have a great time playing together, and we both get the chance to work.
Just like any business, as a freelance copywriter you need to work out your USP when selling your services to clients. And for me it’s flexibility. As a mum, I can’t just drop everything at a second’s notice to visit a client in their offices, and working on site is near-on impossible. So, in order to counterbalance this inconvenience, I offer them a plus by working from home – and for me that is flexibility. I tell my clients that whatever deadline they have, I will find a way to meet it, even if it means rising long before dawn and working evenings and weekends.
By looking at my situation in a different way, I have turned what may be perceived by my clients as a negative into a positive benefit to them – and it has on occasion won me work. So what’s your USP? Is there a way you can turn a negative about being a mum working from home into a benefit for your existing and potential clients?
Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,” and he was absolutely right. I’m really lucky in that I love writing and find it easy. So for me, work is (mostly) a pleasure, and I never resent having to adjust my life around my freelance copywriting to make it work. If writing is a passion for you, you’ll naturally be motivated to find ways to fit it around your life, even if it means making a few sacrifices here and there. After all, the benefits – doing something you love, using your brain and creativity, earning money and still being there for your children when they need you – are more than worth it!
Hannah Martin is a freelance copywriter and editorial director of Talented Ladies Club – a magazine-style website packed with advice and inspiration for working mums.