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How I made 10k this year as a freelancer (and a stay at home mom)

Guys, I made ten thousand dollars as a freelance writer, running coach, and (primarily) stay at home mom with limited childcare this year… and I’m going to tell you how.

I’m not saying my magic formula is going to work for you. I’m just saying it worked for me. Are you ready?

I worked really hard.

It would have been so cool if I told you it was all about the Bulletproof coffee I’m addicted to. (I’m actually just starting to get used to it.) Maybe you’d be inspired if I told you I always did my writing from 5 to 7 am before the kids got up and did all my editing between 1 and 2pm while my big girl is at school and  my little one is (supposedly) resting. That’s hilarious because my kids have slept until seven one time each. I could have uploaded photos of pages of my bullet journal, but sadly, no productivity or creativity secrets can be found there, either. Mostly it’s just tasks I need to complete slotted into any available windows of time and reminders about school pajama days, credit card payments, and dentist appointments.

I know my “method” is not cool or sexy or what you wanted to hear but it’s the truth. I also know I’m probably not supposed to talk about money and I’m definitely not supposed to publicly announce how much I’ve earned. And women are never supposed to think (or at least admit) that anything they do is a big deal.

But this is a big deal to me. When I was tallying my earnings to pay my quarterly taxes this morning and I saw how much I’d earned on my un-fancy excel spreadsheet I thought “HELL YEAH.”

Hell yeah because I was it was with no small amount of “who the hell do I think I am?” that I announced to the universe that I wanted to get paid to write five years ago. In 2013 I was an occupational therapist with a blog and a baby and I loved to write but I didn’t imagine that after my second kid was born my scrubs would stay in a storage box and that I’d someday be able to say I was a writer and a run coach without feeling like a complete and total fraud.

Hell yeah because last year I had one kid in preschool four days a week from 7:55 to 10:40 (yes you read that right; not even a full three hours) and one kid in no school at all. Four days a week, I dropped Sweet Pea off at preschool, then schlepped Lady Bug across town to the only gym where I was pretty sure the childcare wouldn’t accidentally send my food-allergic child into anaphylaxis. There, I’d wait ten minutes for childcare to open at 8:30, drop her off, then hide in the cafe with my laptop and a travel mug of coffee until 10:15.

Hell yeah because I this year I have one kid in preschool and one kid in all-day kindergarten, and even though most of the other moms complain about the bullshit 7:55-10:40 am schedule (You can’t get anything done! By the time you drop them off, you’re turning around to pick them up again!), I (usually) don’t. You can actually get a lot done in that short window of quiet, child-free time when you focus.

Hell yeah because my only regular childcare beside the precious hours when kindergarten and preschool overlap is a sitter who comes three hours a week. I struggle with whether I can really afford this, whether I should really afford this, whether a good writer/coach/mom/human being would forgo this luxury in favor of staying up late to work or declaring Thursdays Netflix Day. Dan is adamant that I deserve a sitter one afternoon a week. He says you have to spend money to make money and we both know that I’m a total nightmare when I get less than eight hours of sleep.

Hell yeah because I know I am so lucky to have Dan as my partner. He has always supported my writing and he continues to be my champion. Every time he shares my work on Facebook (even if it is because I expressly ask him to), every time he takes the kids to the gym or the library or to the park on a Saturday so I can be alone with my computer is him saying “I love you and I believe in you” and I am so very grateful for that. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to dare call myself a writer without his support.

Hell yeah because I’ve read a million and one blog posts and heard dozens of podcasts on how to be successful, how to get published, how to make money, how to do a lot with a little, and I’m sure a lot of that works for a lot of people but the only thing I’ve done that works for me is to just keep working, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. What has worked for me is forcing myself to do things that are scary and then keep doing them until they are not scary, and then find a new scary thing to try.

This is an incomplete list of what has worked for me: Start a blog, start a writing group, co-produce the Listen To Your Mother Show, start a book, submit my work, attend a blogging conference, keep submitting my work, quit writing a book, submit my work to new outlets, start another book, get rejected, create a writing retreat, quit writing another book, be an author, ask stores to carry my book, speak in public, keep submitting my work, ask my editor if there’s room for me to write on a weekly basis, sign up for a writing retreat, sign up for a writing class, create another writing group, keep submitting, get rejected, keep submitting.

I’m not saying you should start a blog, start your own writing group, co-produce a show of your own, or do anything I did. Maybe you should look at my list and do the opposite of everything I’ve done. I don’t know what will work for you. I just know what’s working for me. It’s not magic and it hasn’t been quick and it hasn’t been easy but it’s been slow, steady, and extremely gratifying.


how i made 10k in one year as a freelancer

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The Seven Best Books I’ve Read in 2017

I'm in the middle of my 46th book of 2017 as I write this. It was hard to narrow down my top seven pics for the year,maybe harder even than choosing an ice cream flavor at Sweet Cow, but I've never been one to back down from a challenge (with a few exceptions including but not limited to fixing our unruly towel bar and almost anything to do with computers). If you want my thoughts on everything I've read, including the books I didn't love, connect with me on Goodreads. I also post my books on … [Continue reading...]

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Writing. Speaking. Reading. Running. (Late summer 2017 edition)

  Writing You might have seen my essay on Bell's Palsy on Longreads. If you sat and read all 4k+ words of it, thank you. I know it's hard to sit at a screen and read anything longer than a tweet or twenty million (or maybe I'm the only one with a Twitter problem?). If you didn't read it, it was long, it was personal and I was proud that Longreads published it because I've never read anything I didn't love on that site. That experience, which included random strangers reaching out from … [Continue reading...]

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Excited, but a little bit scared

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, on Sweet Pea's first day of kindergarten... before Trump pardoned Arapaio and Hurricane Harvey. It feels like a lifetime ago now. I could take my left if only the beige Toyota Camry blocking the intersection would scoot forward. The driver has at least a car length of empty road in front of her. I wave my arms like “What the hell, lady?,” but she ignores me, so I roll up a few feet so that my driver’s side window is even with hers. She rolls her window … [Continue reading...]

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If you want to know what it feels like to get naked in public….

Bell's Palsy

Write the most honest thing you know how to write about something shitty that happened to you, even if (especially if) that shitty thing wasn't actually earth-shatteringly tragic. Vomit up all the words and then revise them so many times you don't know if anything you wrote makes sense or is even remotely good but submit it to an editor anyway. Wonder if your words (read: heart) went into an abyss or her actual inbox. Wait for her to reject it, not because you have such low self-esteem, but … [Continue reading...]

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Sweating. Writing. Loving. Reading. (July)

Sweating I haven't been running much. While I was training for the Horsetooth Half, I formulated a plan: I'd finish the half marathon un-injured, take it easy for a bit, run a Mother's Day 5k, run the Bolder Boulder, and then jump back in and train for a fall marathon. But as the days turned into weeks and I remained uninspired to run, I ditched the Bolder Boulder and the idea of a fall marathon. I had been on the verge of an injury for most of my half marathon training. I had to skip or … [Continue reading...]

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Colorado Women’s Classic 5k: Race Report

Race morning, Sweet Pea is in my room at 5:45 am. "Can we snuggle? Open your Mother's Day present!" She's standing an inch from my face. I mentally berate myself for convincing her to wait until Mother's Day to give me the present she was dying to give me the day before. My alarm is set only fifteen minutes from now but sleep is delicious and I want more. Through half open eyes, with the gray light peeking through the cracks in the curtains, I tear off the wrapping paper, revealing a … [Continue reading...]

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Race Report: Horsetooth Half Marathon 2017

Horsetooth Half Marathon Race Report

When I put the Horsetooth Half Marathon on my calendar, my good friend and running buddy told me not to expect a PR. She'd done the race before and knew the punishing course. Being overconfident and really bad with things like maps and elevation profiles, I dismissed her doubts. After all, I was in a totally different place than I was when I ran my last half marathon. So what if I set my PR five years ago at sea level? Who cared if Horsetooth was known for being hilly? I was more experienced … [Continue reading...]

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