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When I started freelancing, I bumbled around like a drunk baby panda until I fell into success by happy accident.

11 Awful Mistakes I Made as a Self-Employed Freelancer, and How YOU Can Avoid Them

A few weeks ago we introduced you guys to our new favorite term: “survival entrepreneurship.” It’s all the rage, now that mass lay-offs and unemployment in The Plague Times have forced so many of us to pivot into full-time self-employment. When you’re out of traditional employment options, survival entrepreneurship is often your only option.

That’s why we brought in Katelyn Magnuson, the Freelance CFO, to walk you through all the concrete steps you need to take to start your own business. If you missed our interview with Katelyn, go back and read it now. Because unlike your humble Bitches, she knows what she’s talking about!

Did you read it? Ok good. Now that you’ve heard from the professional business-starter, it’s time to hear from me, a decidedly unprofessional freelancer who has turned flying by the seat of her pants into a competitive sport.

Specifically, it’s time I told you all the freelancing and self-employment hacks I’ve learned through trial and error over the years. That’s right, kids…

Learn from my mistakes, children. And LEARN WELL.

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Starting your own business is the lemonade many have made out of 2020's nasty-ass lemons.

Becoming a Millennial Entrepreneur (in the Midst of a Pandemic) with Katelyn Magnuson

HOO BOY, WHAT A YEAR, AMIRITE?

In these trying times, it’s good to know we can still come together to celebrate what’s most important in life: raising chickens and naming them after TV characters.

This is Katelyn Magnuson, the Freelance CFO. More on this majestic Mother of Chickens in a moment.

With record numbers of layoffs and unemployment rising like a helium-filled dumpster, a lot of us have turned to what we call survival entrepreneurism. That includes full-time self-employment, freelancing, and stringing gigs together like so many Hobby Lobby clearance rack seed beeds. Not only is this #entrepreneurlife a way to make ends meet when absolutely no one is hiring, but it’s a method of advancing one’s career. Starting your own business right now is the lemonade many have made out of the nasty-ass lemons 2020 has given us.

I myself transitioned to full-time self-employment when I lost my job just as the coronavirus hit the fan. Yet while this makes me a card-carrying millennial entrepreneur, it’s not something I’ve written (or thought) much about!

To be honest, starting my freelance business and then making it my full-time job was, in the words of our Lord and Savior Bob Ross, “a happy accident.”

As usual… I have no idea what I’m doing.

Every so often when I’m researching money topics, I sigh dramatically and collapse onto my fainting couch, limp wrist held to my clammy forehead in the very picture of Victorian femininity. “Oh woe!” cry I, “This money shit is so confusing and complicated! If only some genuine professional would do the research for me and just let me copy their homework!”

Which is usually when I decide to interview an expert instead of doing the work myself.

Enter Katelyn Magnuson, the self-styled Freelance CFO and Mother of Chickens (long may She reign). Katelyn’s whole thing is working with small business owners and freelancers to take the practical steps necessary to bring their passion to life. Her courses, Facebook group, and free resources are not just full of empty platitudes and cheerleading… she actually has made her own business out of setting up the businesses of others.

So when Bitch Nation clamored for information on becoming “solopreneurs” (Katelyn’s word, but I’m stealing it), I knew she was the hero we needed and deserved; someone to cut through the bullshit and give us some step-by-step guidance.

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S2 E11: "I tripped and fell into a career I don't like. How do I reinvent myself?"

Season 2, Episode 11: “I Tripped and Fell into a Career I Don’t like. How Do I Reinvent Myself?”

If you’re new here, let me get you up to speed: personal finance is personal. And as a result, it’s also often complicated—a Choose Your Own Adventure with multiple right answers and mitigating circumstances.

Which is why it is so easy to feel stuck in your career or financial journey. What do you do when you’re just fine… but you want more? How do you overcome crippling stagnation? How do you justify leaving the safety of your established, safe career… and risk everything to leap headlong toward your dreams?

Alternatively: when is the safe and not-super-fulfilling job sometimes exactly what you need? What could you do with the excess creative mental energy that a boring day job affords?

All these questions (and much talk of Spiderman!) on this week’s episode.

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Technical knowledge and industry experience are far less important than the "softer skills" of managing people, priorities, information, time, and (most importantly) yourself.

Your College Major May Not Prepare You for Your Job—but It Can Prepare You for Life

How much does your college major matter? The answer varies a lot, depending on which industry you’re trying to break into.

For example, I’m a white collar worker, and work alongside folks with undergraduate degrees in history, finance, literature, and psychology. Yet I’ve noticed among medical professionals, it is generally frowned upon to dispense medical wisdom under the mighty authority of a BA in Film Criticism. Hmm. Curious!

I spend a lot of time working with recent graduates in the course of my Clark Kent day job. And I’ve noticed that a lot of them seem apologetic or insecure about their majors, especially when those majors don’t relate directly to the assigned task.

Just the other day, I was getting sloppy with my speech in a one-on-one meeting with a mentee, using too many unnecessary bits of industry jargon. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “but could you please explain what that means? I love marketing, but I only found that out about myself once I started doing internships in my senior year. It was too late to change my major, so I’m really behind.”

It kinda broke my heart! (And was totally my bad. I didn’t need to say “stakeholder feedback needs to be strategically leveraged against known best practices” when I could’ve just said “clients are ignorant babies, ignore them whenever possible.”) There’s a learning curve for every new job, no matter how familiar you are with the industry; no reasonable person expects you to instantaneously intuit absolutely everything.

I think a lot of our readers could benefit from a healthy reminder that you bring great value to your job role just by being you, regardless of what you studied in school or learned in internships. In my observation, technical know-how and industry experience are far less important than the “soft skills” of managing people, priorities, time, data, and (most importantly) yourself.

Piggy and I have our own observations, but they’re based on the narrow experiences we’ve lived or observed firsthand. So I thought I’d float this discussion in our Patreon community. I asked donors for their insights into skills and habits they learned in their majors, and how it serves them in the job role they perform today. And like the dedicated employees of the United States Postal Service, they delivered!

The best advice comes from real, lived experiences—and the more diverse, the better. Here’s hoping this advice will inspire younger readers who are still deciding on this issue, as well as more established folks who may be questioning the feasibility of a major career shift.

… Omg, a “major” career shift! Get it??

Here are some things that your “off-topic” major might teach you…

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Season 2 Episode 9: "I Volunteer in My Free Time. Should I Focus on Making Money Instead?"

Season 2, Episode 9: “I Use My Free Time to Volunteer. Should I Focus on Making Money Instead?”

You’re employed. You’re making enough money to live on and putting a little away for the future. And you’re filling your free time with stuff you find enjoyable and fulfilling.

… but is it enough?

This week we handle the nagging feeling that you should be doing more with your time. It’s hard to fight against the advice that you need a second income stream, the coveted “side hustle”, even when in reality you’re doing just fine. It’s all tied into that most frightening of the coronavirus pandemic’s side effects: productivity porn.

And if that wasn’t enough terror, we slip in a real palm-sweaty story about that one time

KITTY READ PIGGY’S DIARY

and

WAS TOTALLY CAUGHT RED-HANDED, THAT FUCKING SNAKE!!

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Season 2 Episode 7: "How do I throw my incompetent coworkers under the bus?"

Season 2, Episode 7: “How Do I Throw My Incompetent Coworkers under the Bus?”

It’s with great pride I warn you to brace yourselves: this is the best/worst episode we’ve ever recorded. Listen with fascination and/or horror as Kitty and I enter the absolute peak of our quarantine cabin fever, and dwell incessantly on the following topics:

  • Kitty won’t shut up about fried chicken sandwiches.
  • She experimentally combines the chicken sandwich theme with an absolutely disgusting sexual metaphor, for absolutely no reason.
  • Piggy blows a year’s worth of bottled self-confidence to boldly insist that Hugh Laurie was in Home Alone.
  • Shrek memes? Shrek memes.

It’s all in the service of answering a thorny listener question about coworkers. Specifically, the kind of coworkers that make messes and leave others to clean up.

Shitty coworkers: may you never know them, may you never be them.

Yet sometimes they can’t be avoided. This week on the podcast, we’re delving deep into the seedy underworld of shitty coworkers and what to do about them.

Do you try to manage their behavior, adding more work to your schedule by babysitting their incompetent asses? Do you confront them directly? Do you suffer in silence, hoping the misery they cause will guilt them into shaping up? Or do you bide your time, waiting for the right moment to sabotage their entire livelihood in the eyes of your supervisor?

Special thanks to J. D. Roth, who singlehandedly got the Hamilton soundtrack stuck in my head last week. He will pay for his crimes.

We discuss all these tactics and more in a particularly bitchy episode of Bitches Get Riches!

This week’s question

Today’s question comes to us from Tumblr follower Shrikeseams, or as Kitty kept saying, “ShrekMemes!” They ask:

Hey Bitches & Community! Any tips on throwing incompetent coworkers under the bus with grace and poise? Some friends in my former workplace (event planning) who do most of the “client facing” work are tired of getting screwed by incompetent coworkers fouling things up behind the scenes and leaving the front end to take the blame. How do you place blame where it’s due when the client can’t see it and your management team is too defensive/lazy to act?

Tumblr follower shrikeseams

For more on navigating the workplace:

Today’s episode was brought to you by fried chicken sandwiches. Specifically Beth’s Homemade Baked Spicy Chicken Sandwiches over at Budget Bytes, made with love by a life partner who labors over a hot stove while you scream-laugh inside the guest bedroom closet.

But there would be no fried chicken sandwiches without our Patreon community! While we don’t use their donations to buy our dinner ingredients, we do rely on them to pay for the recording equipment, editing software, file sharing, and podcast hosting that makes these episodes possible.

So if you enjoyed this HIGHLY UH INTERESTING episode, join our community! You’ll get to take part in group discussions about potential topics, pitch ideas to us directly, and pat yourself on the back for paying artists and educators for their work.

S2 E6: "Someone offered to mentor me! How do I be a non-sucky mentee?"

Season 2, Episode 6: “Someone Offered to Mentor Me! How Do I Be a Non-Sucky Mentee?”

Paying it forward! Not just a cheesy movie starring lil baby Haley Joel Osment anymore!

Before I got my first big-kid job, I benefited from three different internships. The super kind, super dedicated, and super patient people who supervised me at these internships had an incredible impact on my education and career. I’ll never know why they put up with me, I’m just grateful they did.

So when I got that big-kid job, I knew I needed to start an internship program for the company. My work ethic and on-the-job know-how had been shaped by my mentors, and I felt the best tribute to these kind people (all of whom I’m still in touch with to this day) was to pay it forward.

I’ve had dozens of interns over the course of my career. And Kitty is part of her company’s professional mentorship program. By our powers combined, we’ve got loads of advice on how to be a good mentor—and more importantly, how to be a good mentee.

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Season 2, Episode 4: "Does my career have to define me? Or can I just clock out?"

Season 2, Episode 4: “Does My Career Have to Define Me? Or Can I Just Clock Out?”

I like me a timely discussion. Especially when it’s completely unplanned!

Which is definitely the case with this week’s episode of the BGR podcast. We recorded it in… April? May? (Time is a flat circle infected with COVID-19 so who fucking knows???) And yet it directly links to my story about getting laid off, which we published just a few weeks ago.

Toward the end of my job, I was really struggling with work/life balance, and making choices to prioritize my employment—not even my career, but just holding onto a job it turns out I didn’t really need—over my happiness. In short, I was balancing work and life all wrong.

Which leads us directly to this week’s illustrious podcast question asker!

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With 18 million Americans out of work, it's more important than ever to job search like a Dothraki Khalasar riding down a regiment of Lannister foot soldiers.

Our Best Secrets for a Successful, Strategic, and SHORT Job Search

“I love looking for jobs!” Said no one ever in the history of the world.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I enjoy the job hunt about as much as I enjoy a hornet sandwich on rye. Or an acid enema. Or a candlelit dinner with Hannibal Lecter. (You guys are imaginative—pick your unpleasant analogy of choice.)

And I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think I’m alone.

At time of publication, 17.8 million Americans are out of work. That’s… a lot of people unemployed, most of whom are probably looking for jobs. Like, a lot. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s all thanks to our friendly neighborhood coronavirus. Which means that a) a lot of us are unemployed because businesses have shut down, b) jobs at those businesses are no longer available, c) there’s incredibly stiff competition for the few jobs that are available, and d) we’re all a teensy bit fucked.

All of which is to say: it’s more important than ever to approach your job search like a Dothraki khalasar riding down a regiment of Lannister foot soldiers.

With terrifying ruthlessness and precision.

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It's taken me months to write this article. I sacrificed the adventure of a lifetime to keep my job. A month later, they fired me anyway.

I Lost My Job and It Might Be the Best Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

Two years ago I was celebrating leaving my job of nearly nine years at a nonprofit publishing house and finally going corporate. I was riding high and making more money at a large, for-profit publishing house, working remotely full-time and generally kicking ass. It was the shit.

Aaaaand then I lost my job.

Sad trombone.

Kitty dropped the news during our coronavirus article blitz. And I’m honestly glad she did, because it saved me the struggle of deciding to pull the trigger on telling you all. For some reason I’ve been too… ashamed? Embarrassed? Afraid? Feeling hypocritical? Emotionally stunted???

There’s a reason it’s taken me a few months to write this article, even if I don’t yet understand what that reason is. Clearly I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to process about getting laid off. So let’s get with the processing.

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