Gun.io community member David Duggins submitted this guest post all about freelancing with a family.
I realized fairly early on in my career that dress codes and cubicles just didn't do it for me. I hate ties. I hate slacks. Frankly, I hate shoes. Unfortunately, by the time I fully realized this I already had a family to take care of.
It just so happens that we lived in a city that really couldn't support my blooming career as a php developer. It's more of a Windows and .Net kind of city. I found that meant taking whatever contracts that I could take. Often times in other cities.
Ready or not, I was a freelance contractor. Working job from job with an infant daughter to feed.
It took a lot of effort and planning, but we did it. We made it through the hard times and now I run a successful freelance business from my home office.
How did I do it? It wasn't easy. I still don't get that much sleep. But with a newborn baby, that wasn't going to happen anyway!
Streamline Your Expenses
The first thing that you are going to have to realize is that you will not always be able to find jobs quickly. You may very well be forced to go for weeks and even months without a paycheck. That's ok when you are living in a cheap one room or in the basement of your parents and you can get by on ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When you have to rent a 2-3 bedroom apartment or worse pay a mortgage and buy diapers and baby formula, it gets a bit harder.
I was very fortunate that we were able to find a small condo and pay cash for it.
No rent or mortgage meant less required income.
We did the same for the cars. A cheap, bare bones new car can often times cost the same as a used car. Not only did we eliminate a car payment and higher insurance, but we save a lot on maintenance expenses as well.
Take Whatever you Can Get
This might sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but sometimes you have to take the job that puts you out of town for weeks or even months at a time. You cannot afford long lapses in income, not yet.
But never go down.
This is another thing that I learned early on. Never take a job that pays less than the last job you took. Always negotiate for equal or higher pay. You need to always increase your value.
Find a stable client, no matter what it is
After years and years of uncertainty, I finally managed to land a stable client or two. The work might not always be the most glamorous, but the steady paychecks help a lot.
Never Stop Looking
I have one client that pays for my full time. I have 2-3 clients that I squeeze into my free time yet I am always trying to find more work. You never know when one gig will fall away. You need to always be ready with another job in the pipeline.
I have found that not all job boards work for me. There are a lot of them out there. Do not waste time on all of them. Experiment and find the ones that get you jobs and stick with them.
Put Family First
This is the hardest one, but the most important. Most clients will understand when you tell them, "I will not guarantee output on the weekends 'cause I try and spend time with my family"
Working from home also means you do not have to adhere to a strict 9-5 work day all the time. I'll take my older daughter out to the local game store and play board games with her all the time.
Even at home, it's nice to be able to take break and play Magic or Munchkin with the family.
Sometimes we will head out to Chik-fil-a or McDonalds and I work while the girls play.
Remember, just because you have a family doesn't mean you can not enjoy life as a freelancer. It just takes some preparation and a lot of hard work!