The unexciting parts of freelance work

Super boring, tiny bits of admin work and life add up for this freelancer. This is not a post glorifying freelance work.

The unexciting parts of freelance work
Photo by Jackson Simmer / Unsplash

📝 Notes from Jenn:

  • Two weekends ago, my friend and I attended an impromptu glassblowing class. I’ve always wanted to try this out! The final product (a vase) is being mailed to me, so I’m excited to see how it comes out.
  • My article survey is still open! If you have career advice to share or a favorite freelance tool, please fill this out.

📜 Published: All Neon Like: The Glowing, Glorious History Of Neon Coffee Art [Sprudge] - In which I write a lot about neon signs and their history with coffee shops.

Incredibly, making a neon sign today is essentially the same process as when the technology was developed in the 1890s. Since the transformers, glass, and gas combinations remain largely unchanged in how they interact, restoration efforts are far easier.

I’ve also updated the Photo Essays section with some of my Creative Sparks challenge photos.

🔏 Last week, paid subscribers received an explainer on how the plant section came about for this newsletter.

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The unexciting parts of freelance work

Over a year ago, I published a piece on doing what you love, but it’ll still feel like work to combat the common refrain that if you do what you love, it’ll never feel like work.

I am sad to report that this is still true for me.

In fact, I feel like I’ve been doing more non-billable work than billable. Something you learn quickly when you start freelancing is that not every work hour is billable. I’ve read recommendations for setting 30-40% of your time aside for non-billable work. This last month? I swear it’s been more like 70% for me. I remember my boyfriend asking me how my day went and me replying, “Boring. I did really boring admin shit. All day.”

Even with outsourcing my least favorite items, I still have to review the work. A small sampling, a mix of business things I need to do or have recently done:

  • Review February’s P&L (yes, I know it’s already mid-March)
  • Taxes: fill out tax organizer for CPA, review the draft, sign off on it (hurray, my taxes are officially filed!)
  • Meet with financial planner and talk about IRA deposits. Try and figure out how to deposit into a new account system and ultimately learn that my bank does not allow for this.
  • Follow up on interview requests: When people don’t respond to interview requests, I follow up once to make sure. Two times now, I’ve been told that my email went to spam (so now I worry about my domain being marked as spam).
  • Site went down for 14 hours! Thankfully, it was an easy fix from the hosting service end.
  • My Apple AirPort Time Capsule is old and needs to be replaced but I haven’t found a good one yet. It suddenly stopped being able to auto-backup my computer.
  • Invoices: Chasing down an invoice, sending one, assembling one with proper receipts for reimbursement, paying one.

Some of the above are standard maintenance stuff; others are completely random and unanticipated. There’s researching a pitch to ensure it’s viable, marketing yourself and your work, maintaining a website, researching or learning new software, and creating new workflows with the hope that they help with everything.

ON TOP of that is life admin stuff and the little things that get in the way. For example, I put on my contacts this morning and learned my right eye contact had a major tear in it. And I have no backup; the new pair is still in the mail. I’ve been wearing glasses all day and my head is starting to hurt.

Yesterday, I was excited to brew some new coffee only to learn that I did not look closely enough at the bag whose roast level says, “Vienna roast.” I don’t have anything against dark roasts; I just personally dislike them.

Life has been kicking my butt lately; I can write 1000 more words on other things that have happened, but I’ll spare you that.

The point is that if you feel like you are getting dragged down by the random parts of freelancing, business ownership, and life, know that you are not alone. It may appear like I have my shit together, but I promise I do not feel like that.

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