Freelance Interview Series – Growing Your Freelance Business with Alexandra Frost

Freelance Interview Series – Growing Your Freelance Business with Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a journalist, freelance writer, and mother who has a passion for teaching and training young journalists. Her self-motivation and ability to achieve work-life harmony are just a couple of ways that she inspires us. She’s also grown her freelance business from $300/mo to $25,000/mo in just three years!

We asked her to share her experience growing her freelance business and building her dream career.

Building a Dream Career and Business

1. What were your goals when you first started freelancing?

My first article was published in my local paper at age 18 for $15, and it was a news brief about a local American Idol competition. Through college and my 20s, while I pursued a career in education, I used freelance writing as a side hustle, a passion project, and something to do for fun.

While I loved teaching, especially teaching journalism, I still had a hunger to write more. When a news event would flash across the TV, I’d feel out of the loop that I wasn’t covering it. So I started freelancing with our city’s news station and newspaper, taking a story per week.

My goals expanded and I started my own business doing freelance journalism and eventually content marketing. I wanted to cover the news and feature stories/trends, but I also wanted to get involved with the company’s missions, help them achieve their content goals, and feel like part of their direction and success.

During the pandemic, when I switched to virtual teaching, I had much more time and greatly expanded my business- helping other businesses pivot their content to be pandemic-relevant. Shortly after, I had my fourth son and quit teaching, going full-time freelance, thriving in the flexibility of my new schedule and the creativity it allowed.

2. Did your freelance goals shift over time?

Yes. As my sons grew, and joined sports and needed cool shoes, and as I save for their colleges and prioritize date nights and short trips with my husband, money became a much larger factor. I went from making $300 per month freelancing a few months ago to my first $20,000 month this August while working part-time hours.

I continue to be shocked and excited about how my business can support my growing family and the security it provides, in spite of the bad rap writers and other small business owners have for not having financial success (a myth!). Making more money than I could as a teacher was always a goal, and is now a reality.

Many people think money is not an indicator of success, and while that is true, it’s wildly helpful in supporting my family and doing things I want to do in my life. Additional indicators I pay attention to, and prioritize as goals alongside that, include:

  • Working with companies and publications I believe in, who I think are making a difference or have strong ethics
  • Working with editors and project managers I find pleasant, challenging, and excellent to collaborate with
  • Finding a variety of interesting work that keeps me looking forward to sitting in the chair each morning and opening my computer
  • Proposing stories that matter personally to me

3. You work part-time and have seen your business grow exponentially, do you have any scheduling tricks and tips to share?

I set my schedule around the amount of time I prefer to work and parent, which for me is 50/50. I work Monday through Thursday, after spending time with my kids for breakfast, from 9 AM-12 or 1 PM. Then I have lunch with my kids and put them down for nap time.

Having that time to run my business without them at home is essential to being able to Zoom and interview in peace. From 2-4 PM I do tasks that don’t require phone calls, such as writing articles, responding to publicists and sources, pitching, and research. Sometimes on busy days, I work until 5 PM.

I reserve Fridays for fun outings with my family or professional development for my business that I don’t consider work, such as learning through reading my favorite writers’ articles, listening to a podcast while on a walk, or following interesting leads on social media. This results in approximately 20-25 ish hours of work, depending on the week.

My biggest tip is to combine your availability for calls into a narrow window to give the rest of the day more flexibility. I also have a pretty hard rule against working weekends, evenings, or during vacations, though if I decided to go to the pool all afternoon with my kids, sometimes I’ll fit an hour in later in the evening instead.

4. Were there any pricing and packaging shifts you made as your business grew?

I have raised my rates throughout my career, as I am able to offer more prestigious clips and work experiences to new clients. I went from that original $15 story to recently a branded content piece for $3 per word. I believe in constantly reassessing rates (we have to pay our bills, after all).

A mentee in my earliest years taught me to always negotiate, and that’s a rule that has served me incredibly well over the years. There have been a handful of times I didn’t negotiate rates, but overall it’s a process for me that ensures there’s no money left on the table for the work I’m providing.

I also expanded to offer media consulting to publicists, helping bridge the gap between publicists and journalists. I realized they often feel they are shooting out pitches without much information on what would most benefit journalists, so I decided to work with them.

I also provide freelance and business coaching to new and mid-level writers, helping them pursue this career path, and I mentor young journalists. This is one of my favorite parts of my job, as I still love teaching.

5. What advice would you give freelancers just starting out who can’t clearly see a path to more money and a sustainable career?

First I would identify what barriers you perceive to be in the way. Here are a couple of challenges the writers I coach and mentor talk about and some I’ve been through myself.

“There aren’t any clients/publications interested…”

This is very tough. I’d look at this as a five-year goal rather than something that will be solved next month. And every year within that five years, you will be surprised to have more clients coming to you than the previous year. Make pitching a hobby, a way of life, and a go-to activity that you do when you need a break from your other tasks.

I truly believe my business’s success is because I love the chase, I love reaching out to new clients or publications and learning what they want and how to pitch that, or provide that to them. Constantly pursuing new opportunities (daily, weekly) will result in many no’s, but eventually many yes’s.

“I don’t know how to do XYZ…”

Fake it til you make it has never been more true. If you know how to communicate, research, and write, you can figure out a lot more than you think. I didn’t know the first thing about medical devices, and now I contribute copywriting to a major health tech company. I didn’t know much about fashion, but then I was writing blogs for a top NYC stylist and a well-known fashion line.

If you are confident you can do the work, do a ton of research to educate yourself, and make it happen. I’ve also built a community along the way, from freelancing friends I text with regularly to online communities, chat boards, and coaches I’ve paid to learn from. All of these help along your journey of self-education and collaboration.

“I don’t know my niche.”

Well, neither do I. I highly disagree with people who say you have to have a single niche, because I don’t, nor do I want to. I definitely have areas I focus on and am passionate about, such as health and wellness, parenting and kids, and education. But I’ve also written about dog food, medical claim denials, camping, and sustainability this month. While it helps to narrow down your passions, don’t count yourself out for projects that aren’t your typical path. This also helps keep every day fresh and exciting – ultimately preventing burnout.

“I’m not sure where to find opportunities.”

Sign up for newsletters where people post jobs, such as Sonia Weiser’s and Write Jobs Plus, along with following editors and marketing leads on Twitter and LinkedIn. Every piece of junk mail you receive via mail or email came from a marketing team. Reach out to them and introduce yourself, and share a few relevant links to projects you’ve worked on.

Finally, consider the connections sources themselves have. They might have a friend at a similar company looking for a blogger, copywriter, etc. Ask editors and marketing professionals you love if they’ll pass your name along to others in their network. Gather testimonials as you go to display them on your website/portfolio. Finally, speak confidently about yourself, your business, and your services, and others will be attracted to that confidence.

The Art of Cold Pitching to Grow Your Freelance Business

The Art of Cold Pitching to Grow Your Freelance Business

Cold pitching—just hearing the phrase can make you feel queasy. Putting yourself out there. Crafting a message that resonates. Waiting for a response. It can all feel like too much to even try. But here’s the thing: it can actually be a useful tool for building your business.

When done correctly, cold pitching is a great way to connect with companies you love and want to work with rather than waiting for opportunities to come to you.

If you’re ready to give cold pitching a try but are still feeling unsure, use these strategies to confidently, and more effectively, connect with potential clients.

When done correctly, cold pitching is a great way to connect with companies you love!

Do Your Homework

The first step to a great pitch is knowing who you’re pitching. In other words, do your homework. Knowing their name and what they do isn’t enough if you want to cut through the clutter of an overflowing inbox or DM.

And we agree. Not only is doing your homework key for personalizing the pitch (see the next section), but it helps you stand out because so few freelancers take the time to truly understand who they’re reaching out to. Some details you want to look for before personalizing and sending your next pitch:

  • Recent launches, campaigns or content
  • Their mission and values
  • Who they work with and speak to
  • Where they’re based
  • Where online they’ve been mentioned
  • Any personal tidbits they share openly (books they love, trips they’ve taken, etc.)

Personalize the Pitch and Connect

Personalization is powerful. And while it requires more time and effort, it can and will pay off.

The key is to personalize the email based on the homework you did and use that information to connect to the person you’re reaching out to. This personal connection can be the difference between “a random email” and “a thoughtful message from someone who just gets me!”

Here are a few examples of how you might position this:

  • “I love how your app helps people find mental health professionals. It’s been so challenging for me to find someone who feels like the right fit, so I know how hard that is.”
  • “I see you’re based in Chicago! I was born and raised here as well and have spent so much time in that park right next to your office!”
  • “I always love working with female founders but when I saw you graduated from the University of Vermont, I was even more excited! I’m an alum as well—Go Cats!”

Share The Overall Value You Bring to the Table

You’re amped up about what the company does and how you can work with them. You want to share all the ways in which you know you can help—but don’t overdo it in that first email. Instead, pull back and think high-level about the value you can add.

In your initial cold pitch, the goal is to make an impact quickly and simply. The best way to do this is to concisely articulate the value of your work. In a blog post my co-founder, Andrea, wrote, she explains what I mean:

“You don’t simply complete tasks, you help push businesses forward. For example, you’re not selling 3 blog posts for $1,000. You’re selling an outcome: content that’s going to increase traffic to your client’s site and ultimately lead to more revenue.”

Use your short elevator pitch as your hook in your initial message. If you’re not sure what your elevator pitch is, Andrea suggests looking back on the results and value you’ve created for your last five clients and using that to build your one.

An example of this might be, “I help you generate more leads from Facebook and build a more powerful brand presence with social media management and strategy. I’ve helped dozens of early-stage startups increase their customer number and brand awareness through social media.”

Be Specific, Short, and Clear on Your Ask

I know what you’re thinking: that feels like a lot to fit into a single email or message while being concise! When you boil it all down, though, you don’t actually need to include much in your initial message. The key pieces include:

  • 1 to 2 sentences for personalization and connection
  • 1 to 2 sentences for your outcome-based pitch
  • 1 sentence with a clear and simple ask
  • 2 specific time options for a call

Use this template for your next round of cold pitching so you keep it crisp but don’t miss any important details.

Hey [name],

My name is [name], and [personalized reference and connection].

I’m reaching out because I am [insert outcome-based elevate pitch]. I’d love to work with your company.

Do you have time to talk about how I could support you in [insert how you help] [insert two specific days/times in next 48 hours].

I look forward to your response!

Thank you,
[name]

Here’s an example of how you can use this template.

Hey Brian,

My name is Jessica and I love what you do at Finance Literacy Co. As someone who’s been personally affected by student loans and debt, I truly understand the value of learning about how to manage your finances!

I’m reaching out because I help financial services companies increase organic traffic, and as a result, drive revenue, through SEO content strategy. I’d love to work with your company so you can reach more people who need what you offer.

Do you have time to talk about how I could help increase organic traffic and revenue tomorrow at 1pm EST or Thursday at 3pm EST?

I look forward to your response!

Thank you,
Jessica

Master the Follow-Up

There’s no shame in my follow-up game. While being personal and sending a value-based message is important, the follow-up can’t be overlooked, no matter how good that first email is. Just because something is a top priority for you, does not mean it’s top of the list for someone else.

Here’s a short story to prove consistent follow-up works: We ended up working with a freelancer at Harlow who had been reaching out to us for more than six months! Here’s the thing though, she conducted her follow-up brilliantly. This freelancer didn’t just email us weekly asking to work together. She checked back in with us regularly and would reference the latest news, updates, and social posts she’d seen from us.

She also sent along PDFs of her services and case studies for us to look at in the meantime. The timing wasn’t right for the first few months, but because of her persistence and personalized follow-ups, when the timing was right, she was top of our list!

Follow Up Strategies to Stay Top of Mind

If you’re ready to improve your follow-up game (we recommend it!), here are some strategies you can use.

Show your value: Include case studies, writing samples, or other assets that tangibly show the value of what you offer.

Stay up-to-date: Know what they’re up to (this is easy to find on social media) and check in about that. I.E. “I saw you recently launched a podcast and I loved episode three! How has it been going?”

Master the right cadence: We recommend following up weekly for the first few weeks if you don’t get a response. After a month or so, If you still haven’t had a response, spread your messages out a bit more, maybe every 2 to 3 weeks. Still no response? Make a note to check back in every couple of months. Until someone gives you a firm no or asks you to stop emailing, don’t feel guilty or icky for continuing to press send.

Get the right tools: If you’re a Harlow user, you can set reminders for yourself and track your outreach as a task. Simply keep a running list of what you’ve sent and when, so you can top on top of follow-up. The key here is to stay organized so your process feels calm and stress-free.

Master the Art of Cold Pitching

Cold pitching can be a valuable tool for building your freelance business when done right. Use these strategies and examples to craft a better message and increase your response rates. With a little personalization, a simple, yet impactful message, and plenty of follow-ups, you may find this becomes a key channel for connecting with new clients.

8 Ways to Find Freelance Marketing Jobs

8 Ways to Find Freelance Marketing Jobs

So you’ve started your own freelance business (congrats!) and now you’re looking to land the freelance marketing jobs you need to make you feel cozy, comfy, and safe. Figuring out how to generate new clients, while building your business, and providing for the clients you already have can feel so overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there before.

That’s why I’m putting together this handy list for you. Here’s a big, juicy list of all of the places where we’ve successfully picked up a gig or two, plus the ones we’re seeing our community lean into. Whether you want to look actively for freelance marketing jobs or let opportunities passively come your way (yup, that’s possible), I’ve got you covered!

Whether you want to look actively or let opportunities passively come your way (yup, that’s possible), I’ve got you covered!

Tap Into Your Current Network

Your current network can be a powerful way to find new clients. It became the main source of leads for Andrea and me when we were freelancing. Think deeply through the people you’ve met along the way: previous colleagues, friends from school, and relationships that you’ve already built on social media or at networking events.

Who do you know that would be happy to refer you out and sing your praises? Start here. Let these humans know what you do, and who you’re looking for in a new client.

Build and Nurture New Connections

Building your community and network past your current connections is all about relationship building and nurturing. You can’t expect someone to engage with you once and then recommend or support you. You have to put in a little work along the way and nurture those connections. The goal is to find and engage freelance friends that you want to stay in touch with, that you want to root for, and who will root for you in return.

Here are a few ways to give, in order to receive:

Be Their Cheerleaders

How often do you celebrate the people in your network for their wins? This can be as easy as sharing their content on social media or commenting on their posts authentically and regularly. This is about truly building relationships—not staying connected to get referrals.

Think of this as an opportunity to cultivate authentic connections that are both fulfilling (for you and them) and help keep you top of mind for any freelance marketing jobs they might come across.

Be a Connector

Are you recommending freelancers in your network when you see opportunities? If an opportunity comes across your screen, or you see someone posting on social media about a gig, and it’s not for you—recommend someone you know. You have to give in order to get!

Search Online Job Boards and Marketplaces

When you’re active on freelance job boards and marketplaces, like UpWork or ProBlogger, you can browse around for gigs that companies are currently hiring for. While these websites make it easy to find available gigs, they can also be competitive. Many of the jobs have a large pool of applicants, not to mention a lot of people price their services at a lower rate than average.

If you’re someone who charges an above-average rate, it might be difficult to actually land a project that is a good fit. Does this make it impossible? Absolutely not! It just means it might be a little harder to land the freelance marketing jobs you’re really excited about.

Because of the vast number of opportunities on these job boards, it’s definitely worth browsing and creating accounts on a few sites to see what’s available and put yourself out there. You can start by browsing our curated list of freelance marketplaces and job boards.

Post Your Resume on Job Sites

Job websites like Indeed allow you to post your resume for companies to find when searching for potential candidates. This allows companies to invite certain people to interview rather than waiting for applicants to roll in—and it allows you to get in front of those companies during the early stages of sourcing candidates. (#ideal)

Check out this resume on Indeed. Notice how you can add skills and links to previous work. You can also specify certifications, languages, groups, and preferences for hours, pay, and location. You can also specify the type of work you’re looking for, like contract or part-time. The key is to set your resume to “public,” which you can do when uploading, so potential clients can find you.

If you want to stay open to opportunities but don’t have time to actively search for new freelance marketing jobs, this is a great option. If nothing comes of it, no big deal. If something does, then that’s a bonus!

Ask for Referrals From Past and Current Clients

Past and current clients have always been amazing sources of referrals for Andrea and I. We’ve found that if we do great work (which we know you do!) and simply ask for the referral, the answer is often a quick yes.

It can be nerve-wracking to ask for a referral, but a simple email can be all it takes to get connected to a new potential client. Here’s a template you can use:

Hey Brian,

It’s been great working with you these past few months. I so appreciate your prompt communication and openness to new ideas. I’m taking on some new clients in the next few months and I was wondering if you know of anyone who might be looking for support with their marketing.

I would appreciate any ideas or leads you’re able to share.

Thank you!
Jessica

Make Time for Cold Outreach

Do you have specific clients you want to work with? Cold emailing is a great way to pitch yourself actively, rather than waiting for whatever comes to you. Social media and email are two great channels to use, but to be truly effective, keep these important tips in mind:

  • Use a tool like Clearbit Connect to find the right person to reach out to if you don’t already know who you should be touching base with.
  • Keep track of your outreach in a spreadsheet so you know who you reached out to and when.
  • Don’t forget about the follow-up! There ain’t no shame in the follow-up game. Feel free to send weekly follow-ups until someone gives you a direct no.

Here are two templates you can use for your next cold email or DM:

Social media:

Hey, Non-Profit Digital!

I love your mission and that you support non-profits through marketing. They have an important message that needs to be heard and so often lack the resources needed to get it out there.

I’m a social media marketer and specialize in working with non-profits to amplify their message and generate donations through Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Here’s a link to some of my most recent work [insert portfolio link].

Do you need any help with this?

Thanks in advance!
Jessica

Email:

Hey Julie!

I love what Business Among Moms is doing! As a mompreneur myself, I have seen and experienced the power of community more than ever before in my life—and am so grateful for it. I love that you provide that community while also empowering mompreneurs to grow their businesses!

I was hoping to connect with you or your marketing lead on your marketing efforts and where I may be able to support you (email marketing, organic traffic growth, social media, etc.). A little background on me: I’m an organic content marketing consultant and coach. I also host my own podcast (Mindset Reset Radio) and am a published author. I love combining my passion for mindset/personal development and expertise in organic marketing to support female-founded businesses like yours.

Do you need any help with any of this?

Looking forward to your response!
Jess

Join a Pre-Vetted Talent Network

Get in front of potential clients by joining websites like Eighteen 4orty or MarketerHire. They work as a matchmaker between pre-vetted freelance talent and companies looking to hire. Once you apply and are accepted, you’re matched with organizations that are looking for someone with the skills and experience you have.

In many cases, once you submit an application, you’ll go through an approval process, some more extensive than others. You’ll likely be asked for samples of previous work, references from past clients, and more. While this can take time to put together, it has the potential to simplify your lead generation process moving forward.

Set a Notification on LinkedIn Jobs

LinkedIn has become one of the most popular places to search for jobs online—50 million people use this network to search for jobs every week! Even if you don’t actively post on LinkedIn (Reels are so much more fun, right?) you can still use it to find freelance marketing jobs.

It’s easy peasy to set up a LinkedIn job alert so relevant positions get delivered directly to your inbox. Go to LinkedIn.com/Jobs and click “Job Alerts” in the box on the top left of the page. This is where you can set your alert. Specify that you’re looking for contract, remote and part-time jobs—and then wait for those opportunities to come rolling in.

Online and In-Person Networking

Networking is the long game when it comes to looking for a job. While it may not result in immediate new work, it’s a smart way to build your funnel and make new connections. The idea: network now for opportunities in the future.

To build these connections, you have to go into each event with an open mind and be willing to have authentic conversations. Instead of going in with the hard sell, which, let’s be honest, is awkward anyway, genuinely make an effort to get to know everyone you meet. It’s all about finding commonality to build a relationship on.

After you’re done with the event, don’t let the connections made go to waste. Giving a quick follow on social or sending a DM to tell them you loved meeting them can go a long way. Bonus tip: ask if you can help them with anything; this offer goes a long way, even if their answer is no.

For offline communities, you can use MeetUp to find local networking events or ask other freelancers in your area. If you want to stick to online communities, check these out:

Now go on out there and find a new gig!

There are so many ways to find freelance marketing jobs, you just have to know where to look. Building a freelance business isn’t easy but there are so many networks, marketplaces, and people out there to help you get that next gig! Use the resources available to you and put yourself out there!

15 of Our Favorite Podcasts for Freelancers to Tune Into

15 of Our Favorite Podcasts for Freelancers to Tune Into

We all learn differently. Some of us prefer to read, some of us prefer to learn in person at conferences or live events, and some of us learn by plugging in our headphones and turning on a podcast while we walk our pet or unwind between clients.

For those of you who fall into that last bucket, we’ve decided to make a little cheat sheet for you.

Here are some of the podcasts for freelancers, solopreneurs, creators, and the self-employed that have taught us some valuable lessons. We were even lucky enough to be guests on some of them!

Some of our favorite podcasts for freelancers, solopreneurs, creators, and the self-employed!

15-Minute Freelancer by Louise Shanahan

If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to podcast episodes—but you still want to tune in—Louise has you covered! Each bite-sized episode shares tips, ideas, and strategies for being your own boss while creating a business (and life) you enjoy living.

Check out our episode, where we shared how to position yourself as a freelancer and set pricing—two things we’ve learned during our multiple years freelancing.

Brave New Work with Aaron and Rodney

It’s all in the way you work. That’s what Aaron Dignan and Rodney Evans are helping freelancers understand with each episode. Tune in to discover a more adaptive way of working, why that matters, and how it can make you better at what you do.

Freelance to Fortune with Jessica Pereira

Dig into all the exciting and messy parts of running a freelance business with Jessica Pereira. She speaks with freelance writers about how they reached their “fortune”—sharing actionable tips and inspiring stories along the way.

We talked with Jessica about how we went from corporate to freelance, how to shift into a business owner mindset, and more. Check it out!

Mindset Reset Radio with Jessica Thiefels

Jessica’s podcast covers all things mindset, business, and creating a life you love by living with intention. She chats with guests that share a unique perspective and actionable insights so you always walk away with something new for yourself or your business.

Freelance Writing Coach by Emma and Kaleigh

Kaleigh Moore and Emma Siemasko teach listeners how to create a successful writing business. Dig in for episodes on client relations, boundary-setting, rates, proposals, and more. So many good topics, so little time!

Don’t miss our episode where we talked about something close to our hearts: battling and managing burnout as a freelancer.

The Writer’s Co-Op with Jenni and Wudan Yan

Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan call their podcast an audio business handbook for freelancers. Get a transparent look into what it takes to run a successful and resilient freelance business (we know how hard that can be!), covering everything from negotiation to organization.

Freelance Feels with Jenny Stallard

Tune into Freelance Feels for practical advice, real-world experiences, and great conversation. In each episode, Jenny chats with a different entrepreneur or freelancer about how to “get through this life we call freelance.” As you might imagine, everyone has a different way of approaching this challenge, which makes it such a great podcast.

On our episode with Jenny, we talked about some of our favorite topics, including finding balance and autonomy, remote work, and more.

The Coast Podcast by Whitney and Emilie

Whitney Popa and Emilie Givens talk with people who are doing life their own way, from creatives to entrepreneurs. Their goal is to show you the possibility of taking the road less traveled, a topic that we love!

In our episode, we talked about building a business, women and wealth, and what to look for in new clients.

The Deliberate Freelancer with Melanie Padgett Powers

Mel’s podcast is jam-packed with unique insights about running your business, from how to keep going when you’re grieving to having tough conversations with clients. Her guests bring as much experience and insight as she does, making this a powerful podcast to have on rotation.

Get More Done with Ben Dlugiewicz

Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest impact—we’ve definitely experienced this for ourselves. Ben uses his podcast to share insights from inspiring managers, leaders, and business owners on how these seemingly insignificant shifts can make a significant change.

Tune into our episode where we chat with Ben about the major pain points that freelancers face and how we’re helping solve for them through community and product.

The Freelance Pod with Suchandrika Chakrabarti

This unique podcast focuses on one interesting topic: how the Internet has revolutionized the work of each guest. Suchandrika speaks with guests of all walks of life, from the MEL Magazine Deputy Editor to the Twitter Director of Curation. Tune in for interesting conversations with a diverse range of people!

10q Interview with Chris Hutchings

This podcast touches on nearly every topic you can think of because it’s all about each person’s unique story and insights. Chris’s goal is to get into the mind of his guests and figure out what makes them tick. What better way to learn and grow as a freelancer yourself?

In our episode, we talked about one-way versus two-way doors and building a business from scratch.

Being Boss with Emily Thompson

What does it take to be a boss as a creative freelancer, business owner, or side-hustler? More importantly, what does it mean to do this work for a living? We’re big fans of the topics Emily covers (you know we’re all about mindset and feeling empowered!) in this must-listen podcast for freelancers.

Business Banter with Mark Poppen

Mark’s goal is simple: find out what gets other freelancers and business owners up in the morning. You may just find you relate to many of the people he talks to (I know we do!) as they share their stories of becoming a freelancer and the lessons they learned along the way.

When we spoke with Mark, we shared how and why we’re building Harlow to help freelancers stress less and work happier.

Keepin’ Tabs by Tabitha Kraack

Tabitha’s interview format is fun and original—bringing together her local community and a wider-reaching community to bring in multiple perspectives. As you can imagine, the topics are as diverse as her guests and we just love tuning in and seeing her at work.

In our episode, we chat about maintaining balance and boundaries and share our advice for those who are starting their own businesses—so exciting and scary at the same time!

What’s your favorite podcast?

Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter (@samanthanderl or @meetharlow) and tell us which podcasts you tune into regularly.

We’ll be updating this list regularly and would love to hear what podcasts you think should be featured!

Freelance Interview Series – Protecting Your Mental Health with Momina Asif

Freelance Interview Series – Protecting Your Mental Health with Momina Asif

Momina is a freelance copywriter and editor for marketing, eCommerce, and mental health companies. She speaks openly and honestly about her mental health journey and recently took a sabbatical from freelancing to prioritize her mental health.. She shared transparently about her struggles as a freelancer and how she combats anxiety and depression.

Protecting Your Mental Health

1. What were the signs that you needed to start focusing on your mental health?

I started struggling with mental health issues during my undergraduate studies. It was a stressful time, but I didn’t take it quite seriously.

There is a lot of stigma around mental health in Pakistan (where I am from), and it was a long journey to first identify and accept that there was something wrong with my health and then another huge process to seek help.

When I started freelancing, I was working from my home office and was confined to my room, hunched over a laptop all day long. I would just do a quick lunch and sometimes even forget dinner. A routine and/or balance was non-existent.

Then I started feeling irritated about my work, the same work I was absolutely loving before. I felt like every article was a mountain that I had to conquer. The process of writing and submitting my work — research, outlining, first draft, editing — all of it started to overwhelm me.

I was beyond stressed out. My GI issues were getting worse, and I was not sleeping properly. That’s when I decided to hit pause and take some time off to catch a break.

2. Are there any tools or books you turn to regularly to manage your mental health?

I journal almost daily in the mornings, and that helps me remain in tune with my emotions and feelings. Journaling is also a great way to write things down, process them, and let them go.

I am very new to meditation, and though I get distracted a lot, it helps me with the constant state of anxiety my brain is used to being in. Meditation helps me calm down, think positive thoughts, and focus on gratitude and positivity.

As an anxious person, I also rely on my to-do list to get me through the day. I write everything down, however small (like follow-up with someone or reply to an email from a client). It helps me keep organized, feel less panicky, and stay more goal-oriented throughout the day as I work towards checking things off my list.

The book I go back to the most is ‘The Comfort Book’ by Matt Haig. It feels like a warm hug and tells me that, yes, everything is going to be okay.

When I feel down or demotivated, I also revisit my “Kudos Folder,” where I have added all the good things my clients have said about me and the excellent reviews I have received because of my work. It feels fantastic to know I achieved all that, and it keeps me motivated toward what I will accomplish next.

3. Talk to us about the pros and cons of social media when it comes to your mental health.

Social media can be extremely overwhelming, and as a freelancer whose entire career depends on social media, it’s challenging to just delete my accounts and disappear (although sometimes I would love to).

A couple of years ago though, prior to freelancing, I did delete all my social media accounts. The constant flow of opinions around me, the updates from friends I was no longer talking to, and the “perfect lives” people showed on social media was all too much.

No Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter meant I wasn’t checking my phone first thing after waking up. It also meant less emphasis on the world around me and more time to spend with myself to do some soul-searching.

Now though, I rely on Twitter and LinkedIn to get clients, do outreach and build my personal brand. So, how do I make sure I don’t let it affect my mental health?

– I keep my notifications turned off.
– If things get overwhelming, I delete the apps from my phone.
– I try to have social media-free weekends.
– I try to be as real and authentic as possible and follow people who don’t make these platforms a toxic and negative experience for themselves and others.

4. What are your go-to activities when you’re fighting burn-out or other mental health issues?

I love reading, and finding an amazing new book I can devour is the ultimate happiness for me (apart from good food). I also love binge-watching TV– I make sure something is on my to-watch list at all times. It makes me happy to have something to look forward to after work or on the weekends.

Going for walks helps me a lot too. Not just the physical aspect of getting up and moving but walking also gives me time to organize my thoughts and calm myself down.

5. Any additional tips for freelancers who are looking to protect or work on their mental health?

Start with identifying your emotions. Add a journal entry daily of how you feel that day — happy, sad, energetic, motivated, lazy, tired, sluggish, mentally drained. It helps you keep track of your frame of mind and can help you identify when something isn’t right (and why).

For me, the most significant part of the healing journey was accepting there was something wrong with my health (not with me). It’s such a huge but difficult step, and once you accept it, you can actually feel a shift within yourself as you start focusing on ways to get better.

Create a support system of other freelancers. Talk to them about your struggles and reach out for help when you feel alone. Having friends you can reach out to, who are freelancers themselves and understand the stresses of being one, can help you a lot.

 

Follow along with Momina as she continues to share her journey in an endearingly vulnerable and transparent way.