Self-Employed for 3 Months: What Being a Freelancer is Really Like

avoid job boards

If it seems like forever since you’ve gotten an update from me, well, it kinda has. Last month I wasn’t able to do my regular monthly update because my website’s server was being attacked, and my site was down for 5 days.

Thankfully, that’s been dealt with and everything is running smoothly. But instead of doing the regular report, this month I want to do something different.

I’ve gotten multiple emails and tweets from you, that you want to hear what it’s like to be self-employed, and how it’s been for me during the past 3 months, since I quit my job on May 1st.

Being the boss for 3 months

There have been some major ups and downs, to say the least. Being my own boss has been awesome and sucky all at the same time. I’ve also developed a money complex — I constantly think about it, talk about it, and question how I’ll be able to pay the bills.

So much so, that my family even comments about it.

The funny thing is, I have an emergency fund in place, I made the leap when I was ready and I’ve had no problem paying anything — even with money left over at the end of the month.

So why am I freaking out? Well, my livelihood (and the livelihood of my team) depends solely upon me, and that’s a pressure I’ve never had to deal with before.

Adjusting my mindset about business

As the saying goes, “you hope for the best and prepare for the worst”. That’s what I was conditioning myself to do.

However, that kind of mindset it primed for failure. What I should be doing is recognizing how far I’ve come, while being thankful and appreciative for everything I’ve accomplished.

I’ve consistently increased my income since I quit my job, and I’ve lived in Denver during this time to help take care of a family member. For once in my life I’m able to put family first, and to even go grocery shopping on a Wednesday. 🙂

What I like about being self-employed

Aside from that, there are a few specific things I really like about working for myself. I get to:

  • Visit the aquarium on a Monday
  • Take breaks in the middle of the day
  • Stop dreading Sunday nights
  • Spend time down at the pool
  • Get coffee whenever I want
  • Read more books
  • Work just about anywhere

I also have much more control over my schedule (although that took a good 6-8 weeks to get into a groove).

But the biggest thing I’ve learned throughout all of this, is that I CAN get my work done — and done well — from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Even if it’s on the 11th floor of a hospital, on the sidewalk steps of a college, or down by the pool in the evening.

I feel confident to have built a virtual business that I can run from anywhere, and I’ve tested the tools and systems to make that happen.

Creating a life-centered business

The past few months have been tough, and I’ve doubted myself multiple times (probably more than any other time in my life). But throughout this process I’ve discovered more about who I am — as a person and a business woman — than I could have imagined.

While other bloggers, editors and entrepreneurs are catapulting to success and accomplishing big dreams, I’m happy to work in my little corner of the world. To read emails from readers, and help other freelancers create a life-centered business that fuels their life, instead of one that drains them.

My work might not be life-changing for everyone, but it’s life-changing to me — and to those I come into contact with. I’m building a business that improves the quality of my life, and that’s what I help other entrepreneurs do too.

It’s time we remember what’s really important, even while we’re making money. Life > Work. Happiness > Money.

choose work quote

What the future holds

I have no idea what the future holds, which is without a doubt, the first time I’ve ever felt like this. As an obsessive planner, I like to have everything laid out weeks or months in advance. But working for yourself is very unpredictable.

You can lose and gain a client within 24 hours. Projects can flop and become huge successes within the same week. People will sing your praises and curse you, within the same email.

So why do I do it?

Well, why do you write? Why do you breath? Why do you keep moving forward?

Because you have to — it’s in your blood! Your passion pushes you forward. You can’t quit!

Freelance business and blog news

1. Business goals for the future

Now that I didn’t fall flat on my face after quitting my job, I believe it’s actually possible to build a successful business. So going forward I plan to work on some new financial and business goals.

I’m currently rearranging how I price my services, what type of clients I work with and I’m increasing my writing portfolio again! All in hopes of increasing my current income, while working relatively the same hours.

2. Interview for a major publication

Last month I was contacted by a major publication, that interviewed me about how I got out of debt and built my freelance business. (I want to keep the name a surprise until it gets closer to being published, but it’s a VERY well-known magazine.)

The interview will be published — in print! — during October later this year. I’m super stoked, as this is my first printed interview!

3. Meeting a team member IRL

During her travel across the country, Careful Cents contributor Erin, made her way through Denver. So we decided to meet up for dinner and hang out.

I love connecting with people online, building a relationship and then meeting them IRL (in real life). It was such a fun experience, and Erin is a fantastic person!

Erin and I meeting for the first time!
Erin and I meeting for the first time!

4. New entrepreneur highlight series

I recently interviewed multiple online entrepreneurs who successfully quit their jobs and leaped into self-employment. They share some real nuggets of wisdom as well as some funny stories. Check out what they have say!

5. Hear more of my debt story on Marketplace Money

I was interviewed on Marketplace Money’s radio show, on their weekly topic of credit and debt. I share the most in-depth story I’ve ever told about how I got into debt and then became debt free.

You can listen to the whole show or click on the 24:24 mark to hear my story!

How’s your week going? What are some of your goals for the future?

A Unique Strategy to Pricing Your Services as a Freelancer
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  1. Cait Flanders says:

    Amaaazing update, Carrie! I can only imagine easy it would be to doubt yourself, especially in the beginning, but I’m proud of you for pushing through it and continuing to follow your dreams. Based on the entrepreneurs I know, I don’t know that you’ll ever stop thinking about money… but you’ll live and learn from all of the decisions you make. Take the risks that feel ok and trust your gut if it doesn’t.

    As for your goals, I’m completely obsessed with pricing a fee for my services vs. an hourly rate. (Thank you for sharing that e-Book review BTW!) And I cannot wait to read your interview (pick me up a copy, if it’s print?) and see the new blog design.

    Thanks for updating us on your life! xo

    • Carrie Smith says:

      YAY, thanks for the support (as always) Cait! I’ll remember to trust my gut and keep moving forward. It’s worked so far!

      I’ll definitely get you a copy of the mag interview when it’s in print. 🙂 xoxo

  2. Sam Dogen says:

    Nice work Carrie! Do you ever suffer bouts of loneliness? And if so, how do you deal?

    I’ve found too many consecutive days of working alone to be grating in the soul so I try and play more tennis or travel.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Yes, I do suffer from loneliness Sam. A lot actually. Thankfully though, I keep pretty busy and I hang out with friends and family when I can. Another thing that helps is Skyping with other like-minded entrepreneurs who understand where I’m coming from.

      I like your idea of traveling more. I’ve had to implement that too!

  3. Dear Debt says:

    Congrats on the Marketplace Money interview, that’s awesome. Relying on yourself can be stressful, but it makes you work that much harder. Keep up the good work! Love your blog.

  4. Holly Johnson says:

    Hey, Carrie! I can totally relate to A LOT OF THIS.
    I, too, no longer dread Sunday night/Monday morning and I love my newfound freedom. However, I have to force myself to work sometimes and that’s never fun. I’ve also gotten a schedule going and that really helps.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Glad you can relate — well at least to the freedom part. The forcing to work is never fun, but it’s gotta be done. My business coach says that entrepreneurs make the best bosses but the worst employees (cause we work ourselves to death but not other people).

  5. applymate says:

    Awesome story and congrats on the success! It’s been great to read about your progress throughout your “leap!”

    Really glad you decided to share this with us – except the part about the donut. Glad that won’t be on my mind the rest of the day… 🙂

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