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Freelance career tips for moms

I thought having a freelance career as a mother would be easy. I don't know who or what inspirational quote gave me that idea.

Back when I started freelance in 2017–after failing to keep yet another out-of-the-home job due to the chaos of caring for young children– I had an idea: Why don't I just freelance? Yes! Brilliant. It's a dream come true. I’ll work at home with the kids and make my own schedule. Perfect.

Some of that was true, and some of that was not. But ultimately, the truth–the real truth– is that starting and maintaining a freelance career to become a work-at-home mom was way harder than I thought. It's not impossible, but it's challenging.

That being said, I still think it’s worth the work. It was for me, especially if it meant being there for my kids every time they needed me. Here are some of my best tips for freelancing as a mother. 

General freelancing tips

Now, I can only speak on what I know. I did not start freelancing as a single person, so my advice is not going to be the same as the 21-year-old prodigy who makes 300K a year freelancing on the beach in Bali.

I’m sure there are freelancers out there who have different routines, struggles, and tips. While these may apply to other groups, in the end, they are primarily geared toward mothers keeping small children alive while trying to make money.

No, I did not get rich with these tips, but my freelance career as a mother has paid my bills and my exorbitant New York State rent, so let’s get into it. 

Create a freelance space

When I started freelancing, I didn’t have a place of my own to settle down. I worked at the kitchen table, on the couch, and in bed. While working from anywhere is a benefit to remote work, it's a blessing and curse for a mom. I was working in common spaces everyone shared, which meant one thing: I was too approachable. 

Before you start freelancing, carve out a space in your home that is just for you. It may be a corner, a side table, a basement, or a shed in the backyard. Find a place, claim your ground, and settle in. No, this is not selfish. A workspace helps you take yourself seriously. And no, you don’t need an entire room because if you’re on the budget I have, there is no spare room for me unless I kick one of 8 kids into the yard. Tempting. 

My freelance space is my desk, and everything I have placed here is intentional: it’s grounding, inspirational, spiritual, educational, or delicious. Yes–keep snacks in this space! It's still accessible, but everyone knows it's my workspace. There is less of a question about what I'm doing when I'm at my desk, a little necessary boundary.

Join freelance groups 

Freelance work done remotely at home can be lonely. So can stay-at-home motherhood. Online support groups for freelancers can help you network, forge new friendships, find support, or even help you find new work from freelancers looking to collaborate.

Facebook is full of groups from different niches, or try looking into the communities on freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.  The Freelance Union is also a great organization to join for networking, freelance tips, and even insurance plans. Free to join!

I’m a freelance writer, so I joined a Facebook group called Moms Who Write–it's full of mom writers of all kinds! This group has really helped keep me on track with all my writing goals and to feel supported. Plus, I’ve made friends that I now speak to every day. It’s made remote working and motherhood a whole less lonely. 

Be creative in looking for work

Yes, platforms like Upwork and Fiverr connect you with freelance work. I’ve had some success finding clients here. But there are also a lot of people looking for work for pennies or looking to scam you out of something. Mothers don't have time for nonsense.   

Don’t discount these platforms, but don’t rely only on them either. The saying it's not what you know, but who you know is true when it comes to freelance, too. In fact, the highest paying and best working relationships I have made in the last seven years were secured by asking friends, family, and random businesses if they need writing help. Don’t be afraid to ask or cold email/call. The worst they can say is no. It only takes a few good, long-term clients to jump-start a freelance career.

Create a freelance portfolio

A lot of prospective clients will ask for samples of your work, so make sure you are saving links, documents, photos, and videos of whatever work you are producing. Update your portfolio frequently with work, and always put your best pieces towards the top. 

Along with work samples in your portfolio, don’t forget to add a profile about your experience, background, and the types of services you offer. Don’t have any experience yet? Well, you’ve done something in life worth mentioning! Highlight your strengths, your abilities, and creative projects you’ve worked on, or make some samples just for reference, not attributing them to clients. Be authentic, and the right person will give you a chance. 

YouTube is your friend

Most of what I know now about freelance writing I learned on the fly. What I didn't learn from working, I researched on YouTube.

You don’t have to buy a course to learn how to create a worthwhile remote career. Most of us don't have the money to risk anyways. YouTube has a plethora of videos to help people succeed in their freelance careers, including mothers. Just spend some time researching and don’t feel guilty about it. The more you know, the more successful your career will be.  

Blue light glasses and filters

Unfortunately, most modern-day freelance careers from home are on the computer. Being on the computer all day is like death for me. My eyes, brain, and face hurt from the backlight of my screen. I can barely think by the end of the day. I feel like a zombie.

Blue glasses help (I live in these ones ), but I also have a Mac that I constantly keep on a warm setting, even during the day. Here’s how to make that happen if you need help. 

Emotional support cups and mugs: 

Mugs and cups have been a big thing for me since starting to work at home. I need to be reminded to drink water (which I can only drink ice cold), so this straw water bottle by BrüMate is big enough to take up space as a constant reminder while also keeping it cold.

I also need something hot to drink. All my mugs are handmade and handpicked gifts from my loved ones, giving me a little extra warmth that people I love support me from afar. Some of my favorites are from Alewine Pottery, and they are just beautiful. Plus, I keep them warm a mug warmer.

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Mom-specific freelance career tips

Okay, this is where the motherhood tips really come in. Let’s go!

Plan for chaos

As a freelancing mother, interruptions will happen. Period. It may be from the kids at home, it may be from the kids at school, or it may be from just general life. Like a pipe bursting or a flooded basement. Plan for this. 

What I mean is don’t hold such high expectations for what your work day is going to look like. You will most likely be disappointed. Try to avoid pushing all your work into two hours of the day without scheduling a backup time or two. 

Many times, I’ve scheduled work with a strict deadline–with full confidence that everything would go as planned–only to be interrupted, torn away, and forced to do the walk of shame to my computer at 1 am to finish a project. Don’t do that. You will get burnt out, which leads me to the next tip. 

Try not to work at night

Hear me out on this one because I know a lot of you are going to say you are night owls, that you stay up late anyways, and that it’s the only time you have. I get it; I’ve been there. I’ve also done it and burnt myself out to the point of near psychosis. So there’s that. 

It’s tempting to want to work after the kids go to bed. But if that was your ‘you time’ or ‘couple time,’ now what? Now, either you don’t get that time at all, or you’re pushing that time later and later till after work is done. Plus, if you’re kids are like mine, they love to wake up early on nights I stay up late. Enough of those nights will have you swimming in fatigue and bordering on a dangerous level of burnout. 

So how do you work then?

Opt for flexible work 

In this stage of my life, the best clients I have had are flexible. They have deadlines that are weekly, with room for me to move stuff around when I have to. They don’t call or text me at odd hours of the night, meaning they don’t expect me to be working. These clients also understand that I am a freelancer, meaning I have other clients. 

Flexible work is super important as a mom for your freelance career to succeed and maintain your health and well-being. Don’t say yes to everything. Only take the work you know you have the energy and time to do. Work in bits throughout the day: a little in the morning, a little during naps, a little in the car line, and so on. Then, once you start to notice larger gaps in your schedule, you can see at what times you need a little more time (and quiet) and which things you can do with the noise surrounding you.

Integrate your work with your kids

This was a game-changer for me. If I could go back in time and give myself this tip, I could have avoided a lot of guilty nights for being upset with interrupting kids. 

For younger kids, work is just another thing that takes your attention away from them. For older kids, they may know you’re working, but sometimes they don’t understand what that means. Sometimes, they just don’t care. But no matter how old they are, asking them to ‘leave you alone’ or ‘let you work’ hurts them. They love you; they want to spend time with you. That’s the beauty of motherhood. 

Kind of organically, I started integrating certain parts of my work day into time with my kiddos. For instance, if I needed to write, I would gather everyone in my mom library. I had a host of things to keep the kids busy, things they didn't need me to help them with.

I'd make sure I wasn’t doing anything too hard that required my full attention and get what I could do. I'd leave the editing and more serious work for when I could find time alone. It made them feel included and seen, more likely to give me alone time when I needed it most. Also, it helped me use screens a little more wisely because, yes, they can be great babysitters!

Patience with your freelance career

The most important tip I can give you when it comes to freelancing as a mom is patience. Be patient with yourself.

Be patient while you start, while you grow, and while you fail. If you’re going freelance for more flexibility and the chance to hang out with your babies, remember that. Bury your face in them when times get tough (even if they are making times tough!), and don’t push yourself to keep up with other freelancers. 

You can only accomplish what you have the bandwidth to take on physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Give yourself a break. 

You’re doing just fine,

Disclaimer: This blog contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases to help fund my dream of being a published author and poet. I love and appreciate you so much!



The Writer

Welcome! I'm a poet, author, mother, and dreamer of creative works, sharing my writing journey for all to see. My work is raw, honest, and not always pretty. I cover the darker elements of motherhood and being a woman, finding beauty in the shadows despite the smoke screens we like to build to shield them. 
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