Freelancing Doesn’t Look Like This:

While checking my Facebook feed a little while ago, I came upon this ad for Freelance Writing Riches:


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Obviously the ad is from someone who wants to sell a lifestyle. However, it  just adds to the misconception that freelancing is this easy, carefree, barefoot, lifestyle.

It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Let’s put aside the fact that the woman in the photo is sitting on an extremely rocky beach. I mean, comfort isn’t essential for anyone working full time at anything, right? I know that when I need to dig in and get work done the first thing I do is look for the most uncomfortable place to sit ever, and get to work.

Let’s put aside the fact that the woman is sitting with her laptop on the beach, fully exposed in the sun. No sun glare keeping her from reading her screen? No salty air getting into her laptop? No, this is a woman who can get the job done anywhere. Equipment be damned.

Let’s put aside the fact that unless she has a personal hotspot with her, she’s probably not connected to any sort of Internet service out there on the ocean. Now, WiFi isn’t a deal breaker, it’s not needed for all writing, but most of us use it more than once a day.

Let’s put aside the fact that it’s hard to focus on the beach.  When I vacation on the beach and I sit on the balcony overlooking the ocean to work, I can’t think of a better setting. It’s where I want to be. However, it’s not where I want to be working. It’s where I want to be swimming, or reading, or walking, or playing. Good luck focusing on work while sitting on the beach. I try and I can’t.

Let’s put aside the fact that very few people will become rich while freelancing. With the right skills and the right clients you can certainly do very well for yourself, but will you become rich? No. And one of the biggest reasons is ads like the one above – ads that sell this “anyone can do it on the beach” lifestyle that’s driving down rates and creating serious competition and job scarcity.

 What’s it really like to freelance?

Freelancing is a lot of things, but it’s not a day on the beach.

What really annoys me about this image is that while, yes, in all reality we could work on that beach (as rocky as it is), most of us don’t because it’s not productive. Freelancing isn’t glamorous. It’s not deadlines on the beach. It’s not toes in the water. It’s hard work. Hard. Effing. Work.

Photos like the above are the reason so many freelancers are unprepared for the reality that comes with being an independent contractor.

What’s it like to freelance?

  • Freelancing is working nights and weekends because you’re overextended. It means you don’t say no to work because you want to lose a client to someone else. Also, it means you have to take on as much work as possible for the feasting portion of freelancing, because you need something fall back on during the famine.
  • Freelancing means persnickety clients and mundane assignments. Not every gig is exciting. For every fun client I have, there are three more whose work isn’t very interesting. That isn’t to say the work we do sucks, just that there are times when it takes a little inspiration to sit down at your desk.
  • Freelancing means chasing down payments. I know very few freelancers who sit back and collect client checks. The majority of us have to chase down a few payments each month from overdue clients. It’s not pretty and it has to be handled in a delicate, tactful, manner. However, some clients try and pull one over or will take a long time to pay. That’s just how it is.
  • Freelancing means someone will always ask when you’re going to get a real job. Because unless you get in your car and go to an office every day, you’re not working.
  • Freelancing means working at midnight because you’re taking care of the family during the day. Think the kids are going to play by themselves while you’re working in the next room? Yeah. Good luck with that.

Yeah it’s flexible but…

Freelancing is awesome. I’ve been working as an independent contractor since 2002 and I have no intention of ever going back. It’s flexible, I can pick and choose who I work with, and I can work anywhere I like. However, it’s not laptops on the beach. It’s a business and has to be treated as such. Yes, technically freelancers can work anywhere, but it’s not always that easy.

It’s never that easy.

Using Facebook Filters – For Sharing and For Viewing


I’m a prolific Facebook user. I’m on Facebook pretty much all day because of my my clients and so I tend to share with my personal friends as well. As my Facebook friends fall into several different categories, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing certain things with certain groups of people. For example, I don’t want to share personal family stories with business associates. Also, there are people who I would like to remain Facebook friends with, but I don’t necessarily want to see all of their Facebook updates.

With all that in mind, I make heavy use of Facebook’s filters.

Making Facebook Lists of Friends

All of my Facebook friends are on at least one list – some are on several lists. I add friends to lists for two reasons; the first is so I don’t have to share items that aren’t appropriate for that friend. The other reason is because if I want to filter out the items that appear on my Facebook feed, I can still access the different lists of friends to see what they’re sharing, so I can still find out what they’re up to if I want.

I created Facebook lists for local friends, neighbors, immediate family, extended family, my various client teams, school friends, friends from my former neighborhoods, marketing friends, writing friends, and so on and so forth.

Follow these steps to create a specific list of friends:

  1. While in Facebook, scroll down the left sidebar until you see the “Friends” menu. Facebook may already have some suggestions for you, for example your school or hometown.
  2. Place your cursor over the word “Friends,” and the word “More” should appear. Give it a click.
  3. You’ll see a list of Facebook’s suggestions, or you can create your own list.
  4. Click + Create List
  5. Give a name to your list and add all the friends who you wish to be members of that list.

Once you have friends sorted into lists you can use those lists to 

  • Filter your Facebook posts so only specific lists see them
  • View only the updates in those lists

Using Your Facebook Lists to Filter Your Posts

I don’t want to bore my family with the marketing or business articles I share online, nor do I want to show personal photos to people who I do business with. So when I share a post that I don’t want to share with all of my Facebook friends, I use my lists to filter out only those people who I want to see the update.

You can do so thusly:

  1. In your Facebook status update space, post the message but before hitting enter select the “Friends” drop down menu located next to the “Post” button.
  2. You’ll notice several options including “Friends,” and “Public.” Those are unfiltered options.
  3. To only allow specific groups to see your posts, select “Custom”
  4. Under custom you will see two options “Share this with” and “Don’t share this with”
  5. To share with only one specific group of friends select “Share this with” and list the group of friends next to that option.
  6. To prevent certain lists from seeing your update, select “Friends” next to “Share this With.”
  7. Type in the lists of people you don’t want to view the post next to the spot that says  “Don’t share this with.”

Now only the people you choose to share your updates with can see what you post. That setting will become the default for sharing, so do check who you’re sharing with each time you post.

Keeping Your Friends But Losing Their Baggage

Now, if your Facebook newsfeed is getting a little cluttered and you can’t see what your friends and family are doing over all the sales messages, inspirational quotes, political rants, and cute puppy photos, you can choose to mute those friends whose posts you don’t necessarily want to see every time.

To filter a Friend friend’s posts from appearing in your newsfeed:

The next time you see said friend’s post appear in your newsfeed, select the little arrow located at the top right of that person’s post. You’ll see a drop down menu. Select “Unfollow (Friend’s Name). Stop seeing posts but stay friends.” Now you won’t see their posts in your newsfeed anymore.

All is not lost. You can still see this person’s posts either by viewing the Friend’s list that person is in, or by visiting that person’s timeline. What I like about this option is that if you have friends and relatives who might be inappropriate or post too much, you can clear their posts from their feed without causing a lot drama by unfriending. They don’t know they’re in a filter, so it’s a good way to keep the peace and remain on friendly terms.

An Uncluttered Facebook Feed

Now you can only share with who you want to share with, and only see what you want to see. Facebook the way you want it!

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