My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.


How to Survive (and Thrive) as a Freelancer with Kids

Yes, it is possible to juggle a successful freelance life with motherhood.
How to Survive (and Thrive) as a Freelancer with Kids
Image credit: Courtesy of Diana Levine
Guest Writer
Advertising and Editorial Photographer
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I was 27 years old when I sat on my couch in my living room, staring wide-eyed at the positive pregnancy test in my hands. I was ecstatic about the idea of becoming a mom, and quickly envisioned squishy baby cheeks and stroller walks in the park. However, along with the joy came a long set of worries. I'm a freelance advertising and editorial photographer, and I've worked tirelessly to build my career over 12 years. I'd finally reached a point where I was photographing top celebrities and public figures, working with my favorite brands and magazines, and seeing my ad campaigns on billboards in Times Square and in the pages of GQ. I didn't want to give any of it up -- but could I do this while also being a mom?

Related: 7 Ways I Overcame Mommy Guilt to Start My First Business

Books like Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In inspired me and motivated me, but I found that most of the advice was targeted toward women working in the corporate world. I struggled to find answers specific to the obstacles freelancers face.

But, now, six years (and a second child!) later, I can share the answers I discovered myself: Yes, it is possible to juggle a successful freelance life with motherhood. It just takes a lot more planning, and the willingness to draw boundaries and truly stick to them. Here's what I learned.

1. Turn your clients into communities.

When I was pregnant, I was concerned that clients wouldn't want to hire a pregnant photographer, and so I completely hid my pregnancies from social media. Eventually, though, I couldn't hide it on set. I remember arriving to shoots, worried that my clients and subjects might be disappointed to see their photographer arrive with a baby bump. But, to my surprise, everyone was welcoming and supportive.

Ed Sheeran offered to help with my camera bags, and my growing baby even got a private serenade backstage. Swizz Beatz was positive I was pregnant with a boy, even though I was sure I was pregnant with a girl (spoiler alert: he was right!) and showed me sweet videos of his children that made me so excited to meet my own. And Kelly Ripa helped in my search for baby names and chatted with me about life as a working mom.

Once the secret was out, I discovered something I hadn't realized: Many of the people I was working with were parents, including producers, directors, photo editors, publicists and even the musicians I was photographing. They all sympathized, and were happy to give advice. In all this, I realized something very important: Although I wasn't in an office, I did have a community of other freelancers I could turn to for support.

Freelancers -- especially those working in physically demanding jobs -- can face different obstacles than those in the corporate world, when navigating pregnancy and motherhood. Connect with other freelance parents in your industry: They will be sources of support and advice as you navigate your own career.

Related: Embrace the Chaos: Navigating the C-Suite as a Working Mom

2. Set clear boundaries.

As a freelancer, you don't have a HR department or boss overseeing your work environment. You are your best advocate. If you find your work putting you in a position unsafe for yourself or your pregnancy, be clear about your needs.

In a competitive field like mine, I've always made an enormous effort to be the most reliable, drama-free photographer for my clients. Before I became a mom, I never took a sick day, and I prioritized my clients needs above all else. However, once I became pregnant, I found myself having to balance the needs of my clients with the needs of my growing child.

As much as I dreaded making any special requests, I found that in some cases, it was necessary. I was upfront with my clients that if my subjects were smoking, I would have to ask them to stop, or remove myself from the room. When shooting 12-hour days, I learned to build in breaks to drink, eat and rest. And after my son was born, I had to be clear that I would need to build in pumping breaks on long shoot days.

Related: I'm a Millennial Mom and a Successful Entrepreneur. Stop Asking Me How I Manage It All.

3. Build a team and have a plan.

As a freelance parent, it's vital to have a strong team at home. Consider your childcare plan: For some, daycare or a nanny are great options. However, for me, it never made financial sense to pay for full-time childcare when my shoot schedule is so unpredictable from week to week.

Instead, I've assembled a team of babysitters that I can call on when my shoots are booked. Last year, I was called to photograph Katrín Davíðsdóttir ("The Fittest Woman on Earth") for The Boston Globe Magazine, but my husband was out of town for work, and my go-to babysitter wasn't available. It was a scramble, but at the last minute, a family member took a couple hours off from work and met us at a library near my shoot. I loaded up my car with all my gear and the kids, and they had a fun library adventure while I photographed Davíðsdóttir. It isn't always easy, but with a strong network of trusted babysitters, it is possible to having a thriving freelance career without paying for full-time childcare.

And remember: Freelancers don't get sick days, so have a plan in place for when your child gets sick. Try to identify a family member or close friend who can help at the last minute, or consider having a trusted set of colleagues you can refer clients to last-minute in case an emergency comes up.

Related: How This Company Went From $10,000 in the Bank to a Baby-Care Empire Sold in 30,000 Stores

4. Do your best, but give yourself a break on the tough days.

As a freelance mom, you will do everything in your power to be the best mom you can be, and the best professional you can be. But, there will be days (we all have them) when balancing both just isn't possible.

There is serious pressure on working moms to not allow their parenthood affect their job performance -- and not meeting that expectation, even occasionally, can feel crushing to some. But, know that you are far from alone. Even the most professional, successful parents have days where they just can't meet the expectations of both their work and personal lives.

There are tough days for sure, but I have found that working to achieve success in my freelance career, while also growing my family, is something I cherish every day of my life. And coming home at night from a long shoot, throwing my gear on the floor, and hearing my daughter's feet running toward me as she jumps into my arms, makes all the hard work worth it.

More From Women Entrepreneur

Women Entrepreneurs

'Speak Up! You Have a Seat at the Table Because You Earned It': Bacardi's Laila Mignoni

The brand builder, digital native expert and Bacardi's Director of Creative Excellence has delivered award-winning campaigns for some of the world's most iconic brands.
Entrepreneurial Journey

How MikMak Founder Rachel Tipograph Helps Big Brands Monetize Social Videos

The social media maverick describes her entrepreneurial journey.

Rise and Thrive With Tiffany Cruikshank, the Founder of Yoga Medicine

The health expert shares her energizing morning routine and exactly what she does to sleep soundly at night.
Small Business Heroes

Ketchum's First Female CEO Talks Diversity in Upper Management

Here's how this CEO thinks women can break through the glass ceiling and positively impact their businesses.

More from Entrepreneur

Jon Horowitz is dedicated to helping brands with grow their social footprint by aligning with influencers and creating innovative content.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Starting, buying, or growing your small business shouldn’t be hard. Guidant Financial works to make financing easy for current and aspiring small business owners by providing custom funding solutions, financing education, and more.

Latest on Entrepreneur