It’s the start of 2020 and I’m making some changes. Most importantly, after about eight years of side hustling, I’m freelancing full time. That’s right; your girl is a free agent.
Well, not quite. I have a 10.5-pound person dictating most of my day –– even when he’s sleeping.
It feels weird. All of it. Being a full-time mother for the past four months is such an incredible right turn from my previous, pre-baby life that it often feels like this is merely a challenging yet rewarding detour. Like I went away to baby boot camp. In some ways, I’m still waiting to hop back into my old life at some point. But, I have no old life to pop back into; everything is different, including my career.
At this point in post-partum, many mothers return to their old jobs, tasked with navigating out how to merge their old life with the new. However, for me, it’s all open road in the coolest, scariest way. With no position and team patiently waiting for me; I have to create a new one.
In thinking about what that new full-time (really part-time because, motherhood) freelance role looks like, I had to reevaluate how I conduct business. I’ve freelanced for years, but never as the main attraction. In organizing my website, portfolio, contacts, and documents, I realized one of the biggest updates needed to be my compensation.
I’ve been charging the same hourly fee for a few years. It’s best practice to increase your rates over time just as you would get an annual standard of living salary increase, or even a raise in general. Somewhere along the way, most likely because I was relying on freelance as supplemental income alongside an actual rising salary, I just sort of forgot about this rule. But, during the past few years, my experience and skills have grown with every new role and client. My compensation should reflect it.
I’m Worth It
I am worth the extra money! I deserve it! I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!
Anyone who is good at their job is worth the investment because you won’t have to pay for the work to be done more than once. I’m professional, transparent, efficient and yes, very good at my job. You can pay less, but you’ll get lesser work. I might miss out on a few new clients who aren’t willing, or in a position, to invest, but it’s important to know my value and hold myself accountable to make sure I’m feel compensated for my time and talent. If I’m my own boss, there’s no reason to feel disgruntled, underpaid or unappreciated. That’s a perk to being self-employed!
Like any working mother, I have the added expense of child care. And like any business person, I need to factor overhead costs into my pricing model.
I wish my personal life didn’t need to so dramatically impact my professional self. A nice separation of church and state would be ideal, but our country hasn’t quite gotten around to supporting families, children, and their mothers yet.
Did you know that on average it costs $1,230 per month, or nearly $15,000 per year, to provide child care for an infant in a child care center in the United States? If you’re a parent, then yes, you most certainly did know that. It’s astronomical, and that’s just the AVERAGE. Where I live in California, infant care costs $8,925 (111.3%) more per year than in-state tuition for a four-year public college. That means that infant care for one child would take up 24.9% of a median family’s income in California. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), child care is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income. By this standard, only 6.9% of California families can afford infant care. And that’s for only one kid!
It’s hard to be a working mother for many reasons. Of course, it’s difficult to be away from your young child (though also a nice break, who are we kidding?). There’s the extra emotional labor we carry, and the 24/7 triple duty as a professional, domestic goddess, and earth mother. But, aside from all of that, it’s most frustrating to see such a high percentage of your hard-earned income go straight to child care –– the thing you do the rest of the time anyway. It can be heartbreaking to feel like you’re only working to hold your place in line until your kid goes to school, without making any real moves financially.
I recently had to turn down a client request to come in for a meeting, and instead hop on the phone because it was going to cost me more to pay for a babysitter than I would earn for my time at the meeting, and I couldn’t justify it.
I believe that everyone deserves to earn a living wage, and child care is no joke. It takes true skill and expertise, in which I’m barely proficient. I’m happy to pay for amazing, loving care for my son. I just wish for subsidization. Fortunately, I work for myself, a very generous boss who is looking out for my best interest and will factor this cost into my pay. But, if I were working full time at an organization, the chances of getting any sort of extra support outside my salary is pretty slim. Honestly, I don’t blame companies for not being more supportive of mothers. No one is helping THEM support their parent employees! It’s hard enough as it is to start and run a profitable business; I get it! We’re in need of some real legislation around decent parental leave, disability, and child care.
Ok, I digress. You get the point. It’s essentially the government’s fault I’m raising my rates. Yes, let’s blame the suits.
At any rate, I’m excited to finally be able to freelance full time. I’m stoked to really commit and care about every project because I have true ownership over the work. And, I’m so grateful to be able to afford part-time child care so I can hold my place in line, while also pushing my career forward without my most perfect child screaming in my ear.