Alternate Title: Becoming a Full-Time Freelance Designer
Freelance designing is a tough business. The work never seems to stop. You can work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and never seem to be caught up. You can work that much and never seem to pay the bills. It’s just the way it is with crochet. Because that’s what I’m talking about: crochet. Whether you have an etsy shop and you’re selling finished items or whether you’re designing and writing up patterns for sale, there simply isn’t a lot of money in crochet, no matter how you look at it, unfortunately.
My biggest tip for emerging designers/pattern writers is “Don’t quit your day job.” And, I mean it! I’ve been in this business professionally for 15 years. In the beginning, it was loads of fun to get that extra paycheck from freelance designing so that I could buy those extra things that you never seem to be able to buy on the regular paycheck. I remember getting my first washer and dryer from a freelance check, after years of going to a laundromat.
About 9 years’ ago, I was sort of forced into transitioning to full-time designing. When I got pregnant with my third child, I was making the long-haul commute to a high dollar law firm in downtown Chicago. I had been working for lawyers for 20 years. The commute to downtown Chicago was grueling. First, walk to the train station, then take a one-hour train ride, then walk about 8 city blocks to the office. Yeah, winters were not any fun at all. And, one morning, I fell, while pregnant. That was the end of my working outside the home for the immediate future. I had to turn my crochet into a full-time job from that moment on.
And, I won’t lie to you. It’s been a tough transition! With freelance, you never know when you’re going to get paid. Or, sometimes IF you’re going to get paid. You learn to cut corners anywhere you can. Beans and rice may become the best you can do. It’s either feast or famine. Some days might be Hamburger Helper kind of days while other days are Tuna Helper days. Your 8-year-old may have to settle for the three-for-a-dollar macaroni and cheese instead of his favorite, made with Velveeta. There’s just a lot of give and take. Being a single mom is no picnic. Being a single mom working freelance is nearly impossible.
We are still cutting corners. And, I’ve been doing this for 15 years! We’re in a unique situation at the moment, though. I’m living in somewhat of a glorified living-with-your-mother situation in that she happened to have an empty building where she lived and I moved in! The building is my grandmother’s former diner/cafe/country store and it had been vacant for close to 30 years. And, I couldn’t be happier! Here are some photos of it back in the day.
So, what has that got to do with toilet tissue? Well, I’ll tell ya! I suddenly realized that you can chart the rise and fall of income coming into my household directly with the amount of toilet paper I buy at a time. So funny!
Sometimes, I can only buy one or two rolls of toilet paper at a time. Sometimes four at a time. But, this last trip to the grocery store, I bought a 27-count package, 1000 sheets per roll! I’m certainly not rolling in money (although I might be rolling in toilet paper), but I’m not scraping together every penny I can find in the couch right now either (or, going to my mother’s house to swipe some of her toilet paper.) And, I know that another famine will show up in this constant roller coaster ride of feast-to-famine so it’s a good idea to stock up on toilet paper now. Maybe I should buy some more.