Courtesy of Nancy Haight
Nancy Haight has been a full-time freelancer for years after holding multiple gigs at once.
She likes the schedule flexibility she has as an editing freelancer and the only parent of two teenagers.
Haight shares advice for parents and workers hoping to make money freelancing.
Nancy Haight, 46, used to work multiple gigs, including as a part-time managing editor for a magazine.
However, for over five years now she’s been working only for herself.
It all started when Haight was looking on freelancing site Fiverr for someone to make a logo for a side business she had. She noticed an editing category on the freelance platform, an area where she had experience.
Haight, a mom of two teenagers in Eugene, Oregon, has now been freelancing through Fiverr since 2014. She left the magazine and other side hustles a few years later to focus on freelance editing full time. She pursued freelance work in part because she wanted to be an involved parent, such as taking her daughters to their activities, and because she was taking care of her father who was dying.
“I was extremely overwhelmed being pulled in so many directions,” she said. “I had two young girls, and I’m the only parent. So it just made sense.”
She said freelancing meant schedule flexibility so that she could take her father to his “many medical appointments, and to get my young daughters to school and to their after-school activities.”
“I never had to miss a dance performance or a gymnastic event because I had to be at work — I simply organized my work schedule around my personal life instead of the other way around,” Haight said.
She has over 4,000 five-star reviews on her Fiverr profile; completed at least 100 orders for several different months in 2020 and completed over 7,000 orders since becoming a freelancer on the platform; and has customers return for more work.
While Haight didn’t feel comfortable disclosing her earnings for this article, she said she’s “constantly thankful for what I’ve been able to build with my freelance business” and said that she had quick success on the platform. She has also been able to go on trips with her daughters.
At the time of the interview in July, Haight said her family just went on a cruise and were going to New York soon. She said these are examples of “things that would’ve never been able to happen before I started freelance work.”
Below is the advice she would give parents and others who want to succeed as a freelancer.
Be professional and knowledgeable in the work you are offering
“My biggest advice to anybody is to become an expert in your craft, you have to provide good services in order to succeed,” she said. “It’s not luck. You have to be a professional and provide quality work in order to succeed.”
She said from the start, she has used a professional photo on Fiverr and made sure to respond quickly while also doing “exceptional work.” She credits this to her high return rate from customers.
She advised people looking to make a similar career change that she did into full-time freelancing to first become an expert in what you are advertising as your freelance services. She also advised people looking to make the switch to “communicate kindly, be personable, and always be thorough in your delivery.”
“Freelance is a wonderful way to go, but you have to prepare yourself,” she said. “You have to be an expert in your field and provide high quality work, so you have to do the preparation in order to succeed still, just like in any job.”
Don’t worry about the size of the job when you are starting out
Haight advises to take any job that comes your way no matter how big or small it is.
“Social media platforms have made the world far more connected,” Haight said. “There is plenty of work out there for freelancers. Make sure to advertise your services well and be willing to take any size job at first. Your customers will tell others and your network of clients will grow. I have customers from all over the world and many of them refer their colleagues to me.”
Look at similar freelancers to know what price to charge
Haight’s price for proofreading and finding errors for up to 750 words is $10. Her price starts at $100 for proofreading and editing a website; for large websites, the price is $400.
“When I first started out, I offered bargain-basement prices, but then I was working round the clock to keep up with all my orders,” she said. “I learned to set my prices at a range that matched my skill level and kept me from drowning in a sea of orders.”
For others looking to figure out what rates to have, she advises researching the prices of freelancers in similar work. Once you do that, “factor in your experience and skill level.”
“I have raised my rates several times over the years based on the economy and my increased knowledge and skill set,” she said.
Don’t forget to log off and set aside time to not work
Haight likes the schedule flexibility that being an editing and proofreading freelancer provides her family.
“I wouldn’t go back to a job that had restrictions,” she said. “I prefer freelance work for the variety, for the freedom.”
Haight suggested for people figuring out their first year freelancing to remember to have hours where you aren’t working.
“Whenever someone does freelance work, they quickly fall in love with the flexibility it offers,” she said. “You can work any time of day from anywhere, but if you aren’t careful, you may feel like you are always working. Have set off-duty hours in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”