It's not easy being a freelancer. There's always a phone call to make, a lead…
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Elna Cain, a successful freelance writer and mother of twins, also manages to have time to work on her three blogs – Elna Cain, Freelancer FAQs and Twins Mommy. She writes prolifically and is obviously very busy with her work as well as raising her children and enjoying her life.
I wanted to find out how she balances her freelance work with raising children, so I asked her if she would share with us some of the ways she manages to do it all. Here Elna tells us several of her work/life balance tips!
Freelance Writer and Mom Elna Cain Talks Work/Life Balance
Q. How many years have you been freelancing now, and can you tell us a little about your transition from working for someone else to working for yourself?
A. I started freelance writing in 2014 when my twins were toddlers. I chose this time because my twins were napping twice a day, I had a good schedule as a stay-at-home mom to twins, and I had a good support network (my husband and my MIL helped me with the twins). This gave me some time to start a new online business.
Q. How do you manage to balance two kids, three blogs and a freelance writing career?
A. I have help! I have a virtual assistant and two ghostwriters as well as my husband helps with customer support and tech support for my sites. Finally, my in-laws often take the twins for the day or for a sleepover. That helps with freeing up time to grocery shop, do chores and work on my business. Without the help, I couldn’t manage it all.
During the week, I also try to schedule time to work on each site or to work on client work. Typically, I work on client work in the beginning half of the week, and the latter half is devoted to my blogs and projects.
Q. You must be really good with time management! Do you have some time management tips you can share?
A. In all honesty I’m not that great at time management! I know, right?
I do let a lot of things slide like updating blog content on some sites, creating pins for my sites and things like that. But, I’ve learned that’s okay! If it takes me two months to update a course while other bloggers it only takes them 3 weeks, I am okay with that. My life is rich with twins, a loving husband, renovation projects and more!
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Q. The more productive you are, the easier it is to accomplish everything you need to accomplish. Can you give freelance moms some advice for how to be as productive as possible?
A. For me systems, batching, and blocking work the best for getting work done as a freelancer. One of the biggest time savers was having a pitching process and an onboarding process for new clients.
I used Google sheets to track where I was pitching and set times in the week to pitch (every morning 9-10 am). This allowed me to be consistent and productive. Once I got interest, I used my onboarding process which entailed a basic template and a call to action to set up a Zoom meeting. Again, having this process in place saved me time since I didn’t have to write out each email.
Batching works the best with creating blog posts. Since I have several blogs I will spend the morning or afternoon just on sourcing blog topics and keywords. Then the next day I will spend time creating outlines for each blog posts and then assigning ones to my writers. For the posts that I write, it becomes easier once I sit down to write since there’s an outline already there.
Finally, blocking set times throughout the week helps in being more consistent and productive. I use Fridays to work on my contributor sites and use Saturday evening to work on Pin graphics. Knowing what I have to do helps me stay on track and grow my business.
Q. Over the several years that you’ve been a freelance writer and mom, what have you changed about how you balance your work with the rest of your life?
A. Since I started freelancing writing when my twins were toddlers, I had to learn how to fit in my work during nap times and then when they dropped all their naps. When they dropped their day nap, I learned the Pomodoro technique and just worked in 20 minute increments throughout the day. I then did the bulk of my work at night (6-10pm or 7-11pm).
When my twins went to school, I then did most of my work in the morning. I continue to do this since my twins are growing up and going to school.
Q. Have you learned any lessons the hard way over the years that you’d like to share so that other freelance moms can learn the easy way?
A. I think having a lot on your plate doesn’t mean you’re busy. I know many new bloggers look at me and want to start several sites, but I always warn them to not jump into this. It was years before I started my other sites, and once I did that I cut down on my client work.
It’s a lot of give and take. So my suggestion is to go full-force into freelancing, gain clients and then when you are ready, you can start down the blogging path if you want to!
Q. What work/life balance tips do you have for fitting in everything you need and want to do in your life?
A. Learn that each day is different and it’s okay if you don’t get everything done. Over the summer I have a difficult time with deadlines and getting my work done, and I have to give myself grace when this happens. As a mom, we have built-in distractions and that’s okay. We are moms first, freelancers second! 🙂
Q. How do you handle any down time you may have if and when your freelance work slows down?
A. Down time in my business just means I can start creating more projects or update my existing products. It’s very easy to fill my down time 🙂
Q. Everyone is different and has different life circumstances, but in general what percentage of time do you think people should spend on their freelance careers versus other aspects of their lives?
A. If you only have one hour a day, then start with that! You will grow slower, but if you give it 100% in that hour you will succeed eventually! I say if you can work on your freelance business every day M-F for some time, then that’s better than doing it all on the weekend. This might mean waking up earlier or staying up later to get that hour in, but it’s necessary if you want to make a living as a freelancer!
Q. How do you make the most of your life as a freelance writer and mom?
A. I’m very aware of my freedom and flexibility where I live. I often see women in the morning getting ready for work and then come home at 6pm exhausted. I’m fortunate to have built this life for me and my family and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Thank you, Elna, for taking the time to share your work/life balance tips with us!
Interested in becoming a freelancer? Download my free ebook, How to Shift Your Mindset from 9-5 to Freelancing, here!
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.