Whitney Goodman | A Multi-Hyphenated Mother Shares Her Advice on Freelancing & Motherhood
Whitney Goodman is an active listener. She’s a person you can get to know on a phone call simply by the way she gives you space to talk and follows with thoughtful questions. There’s a down to earth-ness and creativity born from her genuine interest in everyone and what they’re working on. Equally interesting to me, is what Whitney has been working on and her career transitions from Portland store owner to freelance branding, blogging and podcasting alongside her almost one year old daughter. For all of us making shifts and embracing fluidity, I wanted her advice here on starting freelancing and what week to week actually looks like balancing that work and life with Inez.
Neha: You’re about 9 months into life with a little one - congrats! What has surprised you the most?
Whitney: Thank you! It’s such a trip to think we’re nearing the 1-year mark already! The biggest surprise for me has been how extreme the highs and lows are. Everyone tells you that having a baby is hard, but I guess in my eyes that meant lack of sleep, new responsibilities, etc.. For me, I experienced some complicated breastfeeding issues in the first 1.5 months that were unbelievably painful and emotionally draining, on top of the shifts in hormones and so much more. On the flip side, I’ve never been so obsessed with anything in my life and my heart explodes when she nuzzles into me or smiles at me.
Neha: Having owned a store and then shifted into freelancing, how would you compare the demands and opportunities of both?
Whitney: Having a store was more stressful than I had anticipated. Being responsible for a physical space as well as employees, and the fact that I couldn’t take a real sick day or vacation just didn’t feel conducive to the early stages of motherhood for me. I started consulting about a year into owning the shop, and when it came down to it, it just felt like a much better fit for this new stage in life. For the most part, I create my own schedule, can work from virtually anywhere, and can manage my workload based on my priorities. I did feel a loss in closing the shop as I’d put so much of my time, energy, and love into it, but I think this is absolutely the right fit for me.
Neha: What's your advice to others wanting to start freelancing? And further, to mothers with kids in the equation?
Whitney: I remember asking myself the question “How can I call myself a consultant if I haven’t done any consulting work yet?” and coming to the conclusion that I just needed to fake it ’til I made it in the beginning. I put together a website that included the skills I’d developed over the past 8+ years, and when a friend said she needed help rebranding her business, I volunteered to do it for a very reasonable fee. This was my first foray into developing a new client on-boarding system, figuring out invoicing, tracking my time, and everything that goes into the process. From there, I felt confident saying I was a consultant and pitching myself to a few local businesses. Before I knew it, I found that it was much easier than anticipated to offer up help when someone mentioned that they were struggling with an aspect of their business. Then referrals started coming in, and here we are. So long story short, my advice is fake it ’til you make it (because you will make it!).
In terms of being a mom and bringing kids into that equation, understand that you might not be working as much or making as much as you might like to right now, but you are prioritizing both aspects of your life and that’s okay. Ease into it and see how it feels. I was surprised to find that I craved more consistent work, and I don’t feel guilty about that because it makes me a more engaged mom when I come home.
Neha: You've just launched a podcast that I know a lot of mothers here would enjoy. How does that serve you personally and professionally? What were the steps from idea to launch?
Whitney: Thank you! I’m excited about growing #realgoodspodcast and sharing conversations with the inspiring women I’m lucky enough to have in my universe. When I had the shop, I started a series called Create & Connect, where I’d invite in a local entrepreneurial woman to share an honest look at their life, business, self-care tips…whatever they felt passionate about. Those conversations sparked collaborations and friendships, and selfishly, a lot of inspiration for me. Starting the podcast felt like a natural extension of that series and I look forward to spending more time on it in the future.
Neha: I think the concept of a multi-hyphenate is so compelling for this generation of mothers. We enjoy a variety of different roles and commitments. How do you divvy up your time between all of yours?
Whitney: Everything I’ve read about balancing work and motherhood has essentially told me that balance doesn’t exist, so don’t strive for that. I think it’s more about trying to be present in whatever setting you’re in, whether that’s work mode, motherhood, or time with friends and family. Don’t try to do everything all at once. Some days for me are all about work and I’ll have a sitter for 8 hours, and some days are about being present for Inez, and on those days I try to work only when she naps.
Neha: I was so struck by your thoughtfulness when we were first introduced, what do you read/listen/watch that has made an impact in this season of life?
Whitney: You are kind to say that (the feeling is mutual!). I have enjoyed digging into your blog and am beyond flattered to be included. I’ve also been a long time fan of MotherMag.com and am currently reading Crib Sheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster because I love her approach, but once I had a baby I let my intuition kick in and stopped reading too much parenting advice. Really the guidance and inspiration comes from talking with other moms. Their honest insight and experiences helps me feel less alone. Beyond that, I love some good reality TV to help me unwind (favorites include ‘Million Dollar Listing LA’ and pretty much anything else Bravo has to offer).