What is freelancing? 'To freelance' is defined by Google as: Working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. In fact, Google’s workforce, as of 2019, consists of more contractors/freelancers than permanent employees - 54% of the staff were considered contractors/freelancers!
Forbes even has an article titled, ‘The Freelance Revolution is Just Getting Started’ and I can confidently say that I agree. Freelancing will only continue to grow and you might say it's the wave of the future - especially for graduates.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen Parker, a verified Level 2 Fiverr Pro user and full-time freelancer. We discussed her experiences with freelancing and how it empowers her to do what she loves.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself (education background, work background, etc.)?
A: I’m a full-time freelance writer focusing on blogs and social media captions. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Media and Communications with a minor in English from Redeemer University (Ancaster, ON.). I started working at a non-profit organization right out of school.
I switched from full-time to contract with the non-profit organization in November 2020 to have more flexibility with my time because my husband and I had converted a cargo van into a home and were travelling across the country.
I joined Fiverr in January 2021, and I had low expectations. I had been freelancing here and there since 2018, but Fiverr transformed my freelancing career and projected me toward independence and growth.
Now I work with a few marketing agencies and clients on Fiverr to complete various writing assignments.
Q: Did you always know that this field (writing) was what you wanted to get into?
A: When I was in high school, I was set on going into the sciences. My goal changed when I took a creative writing class in grade 12 and fell in love with embracing myself creatively. The course fueled a fire within me, and I have chased that passion since.
I’ve journaled my whole life, but it wasn’t until recently that I felt the confidence to call myself a writer. I’m thankful to be in a field that embraces creativity and enables me to let the words flow.
Q: What made you want to get into freelancing?
A: At my full-time job, I felt restricted by a 9-5. I felt like I could not reach my full potential and was not rewarded for going above and beyond. Freelancing offers opportunities to set your hours and be rewarded for your work.
In a full-time position, hard work doesn’t always pay off—but in freelancing, when you go above and beyond, you’re able to learn more, earn more, and grow in your career quicker.
I also love that I have more flexibility with my time. I get to set my deadlines, and as long as I meet them, it doesn’t matter when I do the work.
Q: How did you decide what platform to use to start freelancing?
A: I had heard that Fiverr allowed you to create a free profile, and I just went for it. I honestly didn’t research it, I just said, “let’s see what happens.” People often get side-tracked ‘doing’ because they’re so caught up in ‘doing it right’. My mindset was that there was no harm in creating a profile, so I went for it.
One of my goals for the year is to create a profile on Upwork to see where that goes.
Q: How did/do you navigate the financial insecurity of not having a fixed income?
A: I am beyond blessed to be married to someone who does have a fixed income and to have started freelancing with a contract. The contract position was a secure way to freelance because I always knew there was work. The contract role provided work while I built rapport and confidence to emerge into the freelancing world fully.
Now, I have a goal each day that I aim to hit—and if I don’t hit it, I spend time trying to find other work. I’m incredibly blessed to have a consistent flow of work where I rarely need to be on the hunt.
I’m incredibly thankful for a supportive husband who encourages me to chase my dreams. His income covers our monthly expenses, and my income covers any extras, savings, and investments. I acknowledge the privilege of being in a double-income situation, and I also note that the difference in what we bring in is relatively small.
Q: How do you navigate taxes as a freelancer with multiple streams of income (staying organized with business finances, etc.)?
A: I use a spreadsheet, and I have an amazing bookkeeper who is quick to answer my questions and help me navigate the tax world. I was intimidated by taxes, and it almost made me not pursue working on my own.
Now, I’m thankful to feel confident and well-prepared for the next tax season. (This tax season went well and helped me learn).
Q: How do you maintain/create work-life balance as a freelancer?
A: In the beginning, it was hard to maintain a work-life balance as a freelancer because I was eager to complete any projects, and that meant that I’d do a lot of work for not a lot of money to gain reviews. It was also challenging to feel like I always had to respond to inquiries immediately and to be on the hunt for work.
Now, I’m in a position where I can take weekends off (unless I want to work), and I avoid working at night (unless I want to). One of the benefits of freelancing is that I love what I do, so the work often doesn’t feel like work.
Since everything comes to my phone, I can quickly assess if someone needs a response or if it can wait for another time. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to respond to someone and say something like, “Hi! Thank you for your message. I’m just out running errands. I’ll get back to you when I get home.” It’s a great way to build rapport, keep my response rate quick, and avoid working 24/7.
Q: What is one thing that you've been able to do as a freelancer that you wouldn't have been able to do with a 9-5 job?
A: I originally left the 9-5 because it didn’t align with our van life experience. Since then we’ve sold the van, and I’ve found joy in being able to make my own schedule. I have more time to pursue passion projects, invest in relationships, and grow into the person I want to be.
I found that working a 9-5 left me feeling drained and I didn’t feel like my true self. Now, I have more energy and every day feels like a new opportunity.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who are considering freelancing as their main source of income?
A: If you’re considering freelancing, just start. Every day that you don’t start is one day that you could be building a profile and gaining experience. You don’t need to start freelancing with the mindset that it needs to be your primary source of income—you may find that mindset suffocating and overwhelming.
Instead, I recommend starting freelancing with the mindset of, “I’m going to pour my all into this and see where it goes!” There is an abundance of opportunities for different niches—spend some time on a site like Fiverr and see what there is and what you think you’d be good at.
At the end of the day, there’s no harm in spending an evening creating a profile. You never know where it may take you.