A ton of you already know that being an independent professional can have its ups and downs, but what you might not realize is that being the significant other of can feel a lot like a roller coaster as well. Pete Savage, co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer and co-founder of the upcoming International Freelancers Day, writes an open letter to the many supportive spouses and partners of freelancers to explain.
In recognition of how weird we freelancers can be… what follows is an open letter to spouses and partners of new and soon-to-be freelancers. You’re in for a fun (and sometimes bumpy!) ride. And though you probably deserve your own support group, hopefully this letter will help life with us freelancers be a little more manageable.
Dear Significant Other,
You have the hardest job of all. Living with a freelance professional who works from home ain’t easy. We know that, and in the interest of peace and harmony at home, please allow us to make a few special requests…
Let us off the hook for past commitments. I know, we promised to build a deck, refinish the antique dining room table, and shingle the roof, but that was before we launched the business, and it’s unlikely we’ll have time to follow through on some or all of these things. Which of these are noncritical at this point in our life? Can we cancel or postpone them for now? Or pay someone else to do them?
Forgive if we forget. If you tell us something while we’re working, or in passing, we’re likely to forget. If you say “Annie has ballet this Saturday at 2 o’clock,” she may very likely be late, or miss it altogether, and have to run laps at the start of next week’s class when you take her. (This forgetfulness is much worse if we are male.)
Let’s start a family calendar (a paper or online version) where all those details are recorded, so we can keep track of things that are important to us both in our business and personal lives.
Help us protect our time. We creative / entrepreneurial types are not always the most disciplined people in the world, and we tend to get distracted easily. (Oh, you’ve noticed?) Please help us guard our time by resisting the urge to interrupt us when we’re hard at work. Even if you just pop into our office to tell us something quickly, this can be enough to send us off track for the next half-hour! Before we know it, we’re checking e-mail when we should be back to the task at hand, or we’re following you out into the kitchen to continue to the conversation and make coffee. Staying focused and disciplined when you work from home is hard! So unless the house is on fire, let’s talk at dinner.
Be prepared for peaks and valleys in our cash flow. If we freelancers go a few weeks without much work, sooner or later we’ll feel it in the bank account. Try not to worry. If you honestly believe we’re working hard to make the business work, have faith that the ups and downs will smooth out. Also, realize that we’re really at the mercy of whenever our clients get around to paying us. Some will be prompt; others will take their sweet time. It drives us crazy, too! But sometimes it’s beyond our control.
Help us relax. We’ve a lot on our minds! We’re constantly thinking about clients, our workload, how to market ourselves, how to get more and better work, and millions of other things about our business.
At the end of the day, or week, it can be hard to let go, wind down, and leave the business behind. But we want to! So let’s actually schedule some relaxing or romantic time together each week. We’ll go out to dinner, we’ll take a long walk, or we’ll just sit together on the couch and watch a movie. (Sans laptop.) Oh, and, if we haven’t said it lately … we love you. And we’re so grateful you put up with us.
Pete Savage, on behalf of your weird and wonder freelancing significant other
About the Author:
Pete Savage is co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer and co-founder of International Freelancers Day — the biggest-ever FREE online conference exclusively for solo professionals, to be held on Sept. 24 and 25. To learn more, or to register free, visit http://www.InternationalFreelancersDay.com.