#passthemic is an on-going series on Bravely that features women business owners. If you want to contribute, be interviewed, or see a specific person tell their story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t remember when I first found Kat Boogaard online, but I do know I was impressed right away. Kat is an accomplished writer and I saw her name on pieces everywhere from The Muse to The Everygirl. being who I am, I emailed her out of the blue asking for advice, and she wrote me a very kind and in depth response. Since then, I’ve followed her on Twitter and have learned so much about writing from her. Please enjoy this delightful interview with her about being a full time freelancer!
What do you do?
I’m a full-time freelance writer. Many people look at me cross-eyed when I say that—and I’ve found that they often assume I’m home in my pajamas trying to write the next Great American Novel.
But, in reality, I spend my days crafting content (mostly online, but occasionally some print) for a variety of clients. I’ve really found my niche in the career advice and self-development space, so I write about everything from job interview tips to how to be a better communicator.
As a passion project, I also create various resources aimed at helping other freelancers start and grow their own freelance businesses. Through blog posts and downloads on my website, a weekly newsletter, and a private Facebook community, I’m all about using what I’ve learned to help others (hopefully) avoid the same mistakes when taking the leap into the freelance life!
How long have you been doing this work? What is your background in it/where did your interest begin?
I’ve been a full-time freelancer for almost four years now (time flies!). Prior to that, I worked a traditional nine-to-five role in marketing. I liked my job, but I also felt like I wasn’t necessarily exercising all of my creative muscles—much of the work I was responsible for was administrative. I stepped back to take a look at the projects and tasks I enjoyed and found that writing was a common thread through almost all of them.
That, combined with my desire for increased flexibility and work-life balance, led me to freelance writing as a potential career path.
What convinced you to make the leap into starting your own business?
That’s such a scary leap to make. No matter how many coins you stash in your savings account, jumping ship from a steady paycheck and headfirst into the great unknown is pretty anxiety-inducing.
I remember having an honest conversation (one of many, actually) with my mom about how I knew what I wanted to do with my career—but I was too paralyzed with fear to make it happen. She looked at me and asked, “If not now, when?”
She had a point. I had relatively low monthly expenses. I didn’t have children—which meant I only needed to cover my own cost of living. If I was ever going to take that leap and give it a try, now was the time to do it.
Did you put any personal money into your business?
Absolutely! Getting my freelance business started involved only my personal money. Fortunately, the overhead involved in running a freelance business (particularly one that runs mostly online) is relatively low. But, any initial expenses—from accounting software to a website to registering my LLC—came directly out of my pocket.
What are the three work tools you couldn’t live without?
I’m a pen and paper kind of gal, so I’d definitely be lost without my planner and notebook. I use my planner for keeping track of deadlines and important reminders. The notebook is for making my daily to-do lists (which is how I start my morning each and every day!).
I also really love Trello. It’s so intuitive, and it helps me keep track of various projects and assignments I currently have in the works, as well as where they currently are in my workflow—whether I’m tracking down sources, waiting on client feedback, etc.
Finally, I’m going to have to say QuickBooks. Accounting was one of the things that intimidated me most about doing my own thing. But, having a reliable system that keeps track of my income and expenses and is able to spit out reports when I need them (like during tax time, ugh) has been such a huge help.
(Bravely Note: We use Freshbooks for our accounting and invoicing, but 100% agree that freelancers need to keep their money organized!)
How much time a day do you work on your business?
My business is my full-time gig, and I’ll be the first to admit that I probably work more than I should.
My daily schedule can vary quite a bit, but I’ll typically work anywhere from nine to 10 hours each weekday, and then take care of a few random loose ends on the weekends.
I’ve made a conscious effort to reserve my weekends for a little more rest and relaxation. A while ago, I fell into the nasty habit of just working straight through Saturday and Sunday, and I started to teeter on the edge of burnout.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give a woman thinking of following her dream?
Just get started! I know it can seem intimidating and impossible, but identify even a few small action steps you can take today to get you a little closer to your goal.
Also, I read somewhere once that planning to take action is not the same as actually taking action. When you’re staring down a huge, scary change, I think it’s tempting to want to have a plan and strategy for absolutely everything. But, it’s easy to get stuck there. Just start doing something—baby steps!
What does a typical day look like for you?
As much as I wish I were a morning person, I’m just not. I typically get out of bed around 7:30AM, grab a quick breakfast, and then aim to be at my desk to start my day by 8AM.
My workday is a combination of handling emails (so. many. emails.) and then researching and writing whatever articles are currently on my plate. I usually break for a quick lunch around 11:30AM and then am back to the grind until about 3:30PM, at which point I’ll head to the gym.
When I come home from my workout, my husband and I will walk the dogs to catch up on our days and then make some dinner together. After that, I usually head back into my office for another hour or two—sometimes more.
How does social media play into your business?
Oh, so much! I rely on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn professionally, and then reserve Facebook for connecting with people I know personally (aside from the private Facebook group I’ve created for fellow freelancers, of course).
Twitter is probably my most active platform, and I’ve used it for everything from promoting a recent article of mine that’s published to connecting with editors, thought leaders, and even other freelancers.
I know that social media can be a big time suck. But, I’ve found that it’s also a really helpful tool to leverage as a freelancer—I’ve even landed some work through Twitter and LinkedIn!
Do you do any other work right now, or does your business support you entirely?
Fortunately, I am a full-time freelance writer and it supports me entirely! Thank goodness—I don’t think I could find the time to fit in something else right now.
Do you work along, or are there other people in your business (employees, investors, etc)? Tell me about how you found them/their role/how you decided you needed their help.
I don’t currently have any employees or investors, but I do work with a number of people who serve my business on more of an independent contractor basis. These include:
- A designer, who also takes care of my website
- An accountant, who I’m pretty insistent I would die without
- A lawyer, who advises me when needed on client contracts, legal pages for my website, etc.
I knew that I needed the help of these people because these simply aren’t things I’m good at myself. It’d take me hours to do what they can do in five minutes, so there’s really a lot of cost benefit in having them in my corner—despite the fact that I need to pay them.
In terms of finding them, I can’t say enough about referrals. Ask the people in your network who they work with and recommend. It’s the best way to find people you can trust!
Visit Kat at Katboogaard.com