When you become a SAHM, whether by circumstance or by choice, you may find yourself wanting or needing to bring in some money. It’s 2015 and thankfully there are some great – though maybe hard to find – work from home options that allow you to be around for family and pitch in financially. Many of these might be freelance or independent contractor gigs. Before you sign on a dotted line, here are a few things I wish I had known before working my first independent role:
Sign that dotted line. Maybe your best friend of 20 years is hiring you, maybe you’ve been referred by someone you trust, and maybe you’ve replied to a post on Craigslist. Regardless of the situation, make sure you outline a proposal and draft a contract…and get it signed! Verbal agreements don’t pay bills. Handshakes don’t deliver payments. Write up a contract and do not do any work without getting that contract signed. And if a potential employer balks at the idea of a contract, or a payment schedule? Move on to the next job.
Know who you’re working for. If you know the person directly who has hired you then a background check might seem a little excessive. But what if they’re a referral from a friend of a friend? While not everyone will have droves of information available online, a quick search with your employer’s name or company might turn up positive or negative reviews, reviews which might ultimately change your mind on whether or not you want to accept the job.
Don’t work for free, and don’t underestimate your value. Remember pre-kids what you were making per hour to perform your job duties? Don’t sell yourself short just because your office has changed. You’re still worth it. Additionally, if your employer gives you even one hint that they may stop paying you, or can’t pay you, or simply won’t pay you – stop working immediately until the issue has been resolved. People like this will push the envelope, and if you let one invoice slide while still producing work you start to lose your footing for demanding timely payments.
Just because there’s no HR, don’t feel like you have to take inappropriate behavior. You should be treated with the same amount of respect and professionalism as in the traditional workplace. Having to hear your employer make comments about his wife during a meeting such as, “Hey, as long as she takes care of my kid, goes to work and gives it up to daddy when I say, who gives a fuck what else she does?” would easily warrant a knock on HR’s door in an office setting. Don’t drop your standards just because you’re working freelance.
Save everything. You never know when you might need to prove something or sadly, defend yourself. Save copies of relevant emails and text messages. Unsure if something is relevant? Save it, just to be safe.
Just because you’re a SAHM does not mean that you are on call 24/7. Set boundaries and working hours. If you get a string of texts at 9p.m. and you’ve said that you’re outside of working hours after 7p.m., don’t respond until the start of your next business day. You also have the right to decline and suggest new meeting times, just as you would in an office environment.
I’m sure there are many wonderful opportunities for SAH parents to work independently, and I hope my learning curve helps you navigate the good opportunities from the awful ones. Do you have any tips to add to this list?