When I started freelancing, I had no idea what to expect. I kind of jumped into the world of writing for a living blindly, just looking to make a little extra money to make ends meet. Honestly, I never imagined that I would ever freelance full-time. I was clueless to just how much money could be made from blogging and writing articles for online publications.
After I started making enough money to quit my day job, I began hearing a lot of weird things from friends and family. I was annoyed, but I wasn’t really surprised. I know that a lot of people don’t understand the online world, or how writing for a living is much easier now thanks to the increase of digital content. So, it didn’t really shock me to hear questions like, “So, do you ever get paid for that?” (Like I do all of this work just for fun) or “Who is spending time reading all of this stuff being published online?” (Basically everyone.) or “So, are you a mommy blogger?” (Not really.)
What really floored me were the questions I got from people in the industry. Specifically, from potential clients.
The first time it happened, I kind of assumed it was just a random experience and would never happen again.
One of my clients, who owned a small business and needed some blogs done, asked me if I had time to take on the extra work.
I was confused at first and asked him what he meant. He clarified, saying he knew I had young kids and wasn’t sure how I would make time for freelance work. I wish I had responded better, but I was so taken off guard I stumbled across a sad excuse for an answer. I said something about having childcare and having another project that wrapped up recently. Basically, I offered him an explanation he didn't need or deserve.
When it happened again, I was more prepared to answer but I wasn’t less surprised. This time, it came from another mom and a business owner. We were chatting about what she needed for her blog when she posed the same questions, “I know you have young kids, are you sure you have time for this?”
I confidently said “yes!” and moved on.
Honestly, it’s really frustrating for me because this would never fly in most workplaces. Asking someone about their childcare situation isn’t standard interview conversation, so I’m not sure why it comes up with my freelance clients. And, I'm certain that if I were a man the question of childcare would never come up.
No one worries about my husband’s ability to make it work consistently, but they worry about my ability to keep up with mine.
Unfortunately, these interactions have changed the way I interact with potential clients. Now, when I am talking to a new client, I hesitate to mention that I have kids. I worry about how that might influence how much work they give me or if they will hire me at all.
I wish that wasn’t required, that being honest about my lifestyle as a work-at-home mom wasn’t a disqualifier for my work as a freelance writer. This is just one of the many discriminations women face in the workplace. Instead of being simply another part of who they are, being a mom can be seen as a disadvantage to their clients or employers.