Freelancing Females: Amy Byrne
Age: 29 Location: Nashville, TN
Anything you'd like to share about yourself?
I am an Alabama native who moved to Nashville to work in the music industry. Instead I married a musician & work for myself! We live part-time in a small RV with our high-energy golden retriever pup & travel the country for my husband's shows. I love being a freelancer because my work can go with us no matter where we wake-up!
Tell us a bit about your business:
I handle social media management and content creation for a variety of business across all industries. This can be as simple as auditing existing social media accounts and creating a suggested schedule for the person/business to implement themselves or as complex as creating & scheduling all content plus writing blogs and email blasts, or basically completely managing their online presence.
How did you decide to start freelancing?
My background is in the music business, so I've always worked in slightly flexible jobs that would allow me to travel occasionally & take my work with me. As my husband's music career started to really grow, I hated being stuck at home while he was out on the road. It was a pretty natural progression to start doing something that allowed me to travel with him.
Do you freelance full time or is at side gig?
I'm a full-time freelancer.
What are some struggles you face being a freelancer? What has been your greatest struggle?
Focus & prioritizing my time for sure. It's so easy to think you have the entire day to get your work done & then push it back behind the house cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, or even dog walking! I've gotten better over time, but there are still days when I end up working until close to midnight because of the choices I made earlier in the day. Another big struggle is the misconception among friends & family about working from home. A lot of people assume because you're home, you're free to do whatever! Living in a tourist town, we deal with this issue a lot with people visiting for their vacation & assuming that we can hang out & entertain them all day. I mean, we're home so we aren't working, right? It's another area where I've had to grow a backbone & learn to be okay with disappointing them in saying no.
What is your favorite thing about freelancing? Whats your most memorable accomplishment?
Definitely the freedom! I know, I mentioned that being one of the struggles, but it's also one of the best perks! I lived in an RV last summer & got to visit the Florida Keys, Niagara Falls, coastal Maine, Vermont, D.C., and Savannah, all while never missing a beat with my work. Even just on the more simplistic day-to-day level, it's the opportunity to take a 2 hour break in the middle of the day to go on a hike with our pup or to go grocery shopping at 10AM with the retirees. I love that freelancing gives me the freedom to choose how my day will go.
I'd say my most memorable accomplishment was also the time we spent traveling last summer. I really wasn't sure how it was going to go with me working from the road. It's the life we had dreamed about & what made me want to start freelancing, but could we really do it? Having it be a successful 2.5 months & really learning how to be a working nomad felt like a huge accomplishment. I can't wait to do it again in 2017!
Do you work from home? Do you like it or do you find yourself getting easily distracted? What are some tips you have about working from home?
I do work from home. I have my own pretty little office in a back bedroom.... but I won't lie, I mostly work from the couch! Distraction is definitely an issue for me, but I'm always learning how to fight it. For me, it's simple things like house work or a whining dog that knock me off track the fastest. We try to start the day by doing a little neighborhood walk with the pup. If we go ahead & get that out of the way, it eliminates that potential distraction before it can even start. & as crazy type-A as it sounds, I've started trying to keep up with a daily cleaning schedule while we're home. Knowing that I only have one task to do each day makes it feel less overwhelming & allows me to let it wait until after my work is done.
If all else fails, I leave the house. Nashville has more coffee shops & juice bars with wifi than you can imagine. A change of scenery usually kicks my butt back into gear!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I don't know that there is a typical day for me. Two days a week, I try to go to a barre class first thing in the morning. On those days I usually put in a few hours at a coffee shop next door to the barre studio. On the days that I don't go to barre, if the weather is decent & my husband isn't in the studio, we'll try to take a midday break to go for a quick hike. Depending on my workload, I'll generally take a break for us to have dinner together & then we'll both work until around 10-11 if we're really into projects.
Work Life Balance… Does this exist and what are your thoughts and tips?
I think it does, but only when you're honest with yourself. Freelancing really lets me have that balance by being able to take breaks to go hiking or being home to eat dinner together even when I'm on a tight deadline. I don't think everyday is perfect. Last night I worked until 1AM, but that was because I allowed myself to completely turn off work for 5 days while my family visited for Thanksgiving. So I don't think every single day will look perfect, it's more of a give & take for me where some days are filled to the brim with work and that allows others to be free of work.
Do you freelance on your own? Do you find it hard sometimes or lonely? How do you combat feeling discouraged?
I'm really lucky in that I'm surrounded by other freelancers! What my husband does is technically freelance, so he has a super flexible schedule most days as well. He has a music studio in the basement of our house, so when I'm working from home he's usually here too. One of my closest friends in Nashville, and former boss, is also a freelancer. If either of us are ever feeling like we've been glued to the computer too much, we'll have a coffee shop work date.
I'm also really fortunate to be a part of something called The Slate Collective. Melanie Korn, who runs The Media Slate and has mentored me through my transition into the freelance social media world, started this community of independent freelancers all over the country who work under the umbrella of The Media Slate. We all have our own clients but are a part of a bigger team for the resources and support it provides. You can learn more about it
How do you handle burnout? How do you creatively recharge?
It's all about balance. I don't think my workload is anywhere near burnout level currently, but I definitely have days where I struggle with staring at the computer all day (especially when the sun is shining outside). I'm a very outdoorsy person, so really just getting outside for an hour or two recharges for me. If I know it's going to be a particularly busy week or two, we'll find a day that we can both clear & go on a big day hike. Just getting away from the computer does wonders! I also try to read every day. Maybe 30 minutes early in the morning with my coffee or right before bed, but getting into a book & reading for fun is good change of pace & recharge for me too.
Any other advice you would have for someone looking to start freelancing?
I'd say don't expect it to be easy or all fun & games. The stuff you see on social media is true. A lot of us get to travel or do fun things in the middle of the day while the rest of the world is stuck in an office, but it's a trade off. In order to have that free hour during the day, I'm usually working until late at night. And on that trip to the beach, it's not a real vacation where I'm completely unplugged. I've probably been up since 7 putting in hours of work to be able to get to the beach that afternoon. Plus, there's no such thing as a steady paycheck or benefits in this world. Some months are awesome & others you have to worry about getting paid in time to pay the next bill.
Even with all of that, I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not for everyone, but the freedom makes it perfect for me!
Where can we find you?