How Ginny Vachon Created Freelance Work for Herself During the Pandemic
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession that followed, Ginny Vachon, PhD, has had enough freelance work. But the freelance medical writer’s work has changed a lot and with nearly every part of life in flux these days, it can be stressful to adapt. Ginny started her freelance business, Principal Medvantage, LLC, in 2015.
Within two weeks of when coronavirus became a pandemic in the United States in March 2020, Ginny began seeing a “huge shift” in her business. A specialist in advisory boards and meetings, Ginny used to spend a lot of time at in-person meetings. Those meetings were cancelled due to the pandemic and new meetings aren’t being scheduled.
Creating Freelance Work
Instead of panicking and hoping that clients would find other freelance work for her, Ginny took action to create work for herself. “I helped a couple of my clients shift to online meetings. I also helped some clients identify projects that have been on the back burner for a while so that we can keep things going,” says Ginny.
“I have been pretty busy, but with different types of work than what I normally do. So I’ve had a few learning curves.” Whatever happens with COVID-19, Ginny thinks that virtual meetings “are here to stay” and that she will be traveling less for work.
Blending Work and Home Life
While Ginny has plenty of freelance work, juggling work and home life, coming up with creative and safe ways to socialize, and staying focused on her business has been a lot to handle. “The kids are at home, so my work and home life are weirdly blended in a way they wouldn’t have been before,” she says. Ginny and her husband have two kids, age 4 and 8 who are homeschooling.
They’re using Outschool, an online platform where you can sign up for different virtual classes to help create time for both kids to have individual attention that suits their learning needs. Outschool is the largest marketplace of live online classes for kids. Students can take core subjects like math, reading, and science, and interest-based topics.
Ginny’s husband manages the children’s schooling during the day and her 8-year old daughter does some work in her office when Ginny is doing her “less brain power needed” tasks in the afternoon. Her daughter is also now in charge of making dinner two nights a week. She learned how to use the instant pot and makes salad!
Reducing Stress in Challenging Times
“For the first 6 months, I put my head down and didn’t take any time to really process. Then I would find myself wondering, ‘why am I so tired/easily upset/slow at writing?’ Stress puts a serious dent in your health,” says Ginny.
Acknowledging how stressful life is during the pandemic was the first step for Ginny in reducing that stress. “I have been a little stricter than I was before about making sure that I keep myself healthy so that I can do my best to keep my professional and home life on track. Because guys, it is a LOT to juggle,” she says.
Ginny now sets biweekly goals for her freelance business. “Making goals for longer than that feels insane, so I dialed it back. I haven’t felt bad about it at all,” she says.
Also, Ginny’s family is setting goals. “We each have an index card on the fridge and we add to it whenever we feel like it. Then, every other Sunday we schedule what will happen that week. My kids enjoy feeling in control, and I like to see them get creative about how to spend their time,” says Ginny.
Checking in with freelance friends more often is also helping Ginny reduce stress. Once they start talking, her freelance friends also admit that life—personal and professional—is stressful. “Freelancers are the very definition of alone together. We need to keep supporting one another,” says Ginny.
Helping Others and Disconnecting from News
Helping others is “a good antidote” to the pandemic for Ginny. Early on, she taught the people in her life who are over age 60 how to shop for groceries online and helped clients and friends who were new to working at home get set up to do this. She also donated to the community garden because they had lost all of their restaurant business and they were starting a “scholarship” program for families in need.
Also, Ginny is ignoring most news, which does very little to enrich day-to-day life. Instead, she gets her updates from reputable scientific sources such as Nature and The Lancet. And she is feeling and focusing better.
“When I am not exhausted by media input, I am far more likely to connect with my neighbors for outdoor coffee, take the time to read a story to the kids, or really be able to listen to my kids and help them navigate this,” says Ginny.
“Personally, I believe that we’re facing an endemic virus that probably will never go away. I am just adjusting day-by-day and adapting the best I can,” says Ginny. “Life may be different now, but it sure as heck isn’t on hold.”
About Ginny and Principal Medvantage, LLC
Ginny Vachon, PhD, is the founder of and principal medical writer for Principal Medvantage, LLC, a boutique medical writing firm with writing expertise in a wide range of therapeutic areas, especially rare diseases and devices. Ginny specializes in helping clients get the most insights from advisory board and other meetings. She also does other types of medical writing.
This post is part of my Fearless Freelancer series. Like Ginny, you too can become a Fearless Freelancer despite the recession.
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