Experienced freelance and work-from-home parents can earn good money doing what they love. Top-quality freelance training and guidance is key for both new and established entrepreneurs looking to grow into new skill areas. If you’ve been asking, “Where is the best place for freelancer training with a variety of great courses and student support?,” you’re going to want to keep reading!
We’ve been chatting with Freelance University mentor and Business Coach Tammy Durden, owner of Fearless Business Boss. A disabled mom of three, Tammy has worked from home for over 13 years and built two successful freelance work-at-home businesses!
She has been a Freelance University student for years, and now helps support their community as part of the unique FreeU mentorship program. Tammy provides one-on-one mentoring sessions to students through this program and offers support as a community mentor on the vibrant Freelance University Facebook group pages, responding to questions and sharing articles, resources, and her own thoughts. Recently, she presented a workshop on Business Strategy and Planning.
In our interview, Tammy shares more about her experience at Freelance University and looks back on the role Freelance University courses have played in her career development as a freelancer and work-from-home entrepreneur.
Hi, Tammy! Can you tell us what your online business is?
After years of running Tammy’s Office Solutions, a boutique digital marketing agency, I recently moved on and have embraced my business & marketing coaching company – Fearless Business Boss. I have a multitude of abilities and have done many different things in my career, which I now bring into focus for my clients, helping them develop courage, confidence, and conviction to create and grow the business of their dreams.
Businesses that come to me are usually women starting their businesses, those scaling (through outsourcing), or those who are simply stuck! I love empowering them to see the potential in themselves! These business owners need someone to help coach them through the steps to reach their dream work. Sometimes they are stuck at the beginning and are not sure how to start their business. Others may be just getting serious about their digital marketing and need guidance to move forward, or help to build a plan so that they can attract clients. And other times, they need a little lift to get them over that motivation hump. I love giving these entrepreneurs the tools that will get them where they want to be.
It can be hard to summarize a diverse career into a few short lines – what’s your elevator pitch?
I am a Business & Marketing Coach empowering those who are startups, scaling up and stuck, working with them to create and grow the business of their dreams!
Have you always been a freelancer? If not, what did you do before becoming a freelancer?
No! In the past, I did the ‘corporate thing' and worked for small business owners. I've worked from home for over 13 years. In fact, I worked from home before this but did not realize it was a business! Prior to becoming a freelancer, I worked many ‘jobs’ over the years, including Retail Management, Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper, and Assistant Accountant. I’m so glad I no longer work for someone else but have the freedom of being a freelancer – of owning my own business. That is the Dream, isn’t it? Doing life on your terms.
How did you get started as a Freelancer?
I first began with a little desk in the corner of our master bedroom, working only a few hours per week as a virtual assistant for an insurance agent, and helping with his lead generation. Within months I moved into one of our small bedrooms as I continued to expand my business. Helping other disabled professionals work from home was a priority for me, so as my business grew, I began contracting disabled persons to help with clients.
It was important for me to start out only working part-time from home for a number of reasons. Most importantly, I was homeschooling three children – all involved in tutorials and local events. I am disabled and unable to work outside of the home any longer. For me, working from home was not only a necessity (like so many today), but it also afforded me the flexibility to homeschool, run the children places, do all that parents do in the course of a day (which is like a full-time job in itself!) and still contribute financially to our family needs. Although all of my children are grown now, I did start working from home while I was raising and homeschooling three children.
Honestly, I never thought I could work full-time again with my disabilities – yet the last several years, I have been able to work more than full-time!
It cannot have been easy, juggling homeschooling, your freelance career, and your family’s changing needs over the years. Do you have any advice for parents anxious about committing time and energy to their own business?
Start out slow. I tell my clients all the time that “Business is a journey, not a sprint.” Our families change so quickly. Enjoy your children and cherish the time while they are still home. You are developing a relationship with each of your children that will last much longer than the time they are living with you – make the time count so they will want to visit when they are adults. I think I really tried to do that for the most part.
Work only the hours that you can give the business in the beginning. It takes time to build relationships, network, and find strategic partnerships. Be open to possibilities and think outside of the box.
Too often, we rush into things and are so eager to get it going. Don’t be so focused on the business that you miss out on your children and their interruptions. My children knew I was available (the only rule was not to interrupt while I was in a meeting or on the phone), and they knew that they could ask my husband and me anything (and wow – did they ask! haha!) I’m grateful for the love and openness we still share in our family today.
It isn’t easy, but it is possible to balance business and family. You will have to make hard decisions sometimes. One thing that will really help is creating core values for you and your business. When difficult choices come up, you can weigh them against your core values to help you make your decision.
The bottom line for me is God first, then Family, then all else…
Let’s chat a bit about Freelance University and freelancer training. When did you join Freelance University?
I first took a couple of courses back in 2016 and have been part of the Freelance University community ever since. Although I had completed two years of college in business management and accounting (I initially offered bookkeeping services), I knew I needed additional training if I wanted to grow as a business and also meet the growing needs of my clients. I enrolled in Freelance University to gain the knowledge I needed to continue to grow my business.
Although my past experience in business and counseling certainly factors into my coaching practices, Freelance University helped me gain knowledge and the confidence to become the entrepreneur I am today.
How did Freelance University help you to achieve your goals?
Freelance University was instrumental in my development and success as a digital marketer and was pivotal in my transition to coaching full-time this year. Because of the Freelance University’s courses, I was able to transition from a virtual assistant to a digital marketer, and then into coaching three years ago. It helped me meet the changing needs of my clients.
I am both a student & a mentor now. I was a student before becoming a mentor – and yes, I still take advantage of the fantastic courses, classes, workshops, and Facebook Live sessions!
I'm so grateful that they are amazingly supportive of virtual professionals and freelancers. They truly helped me develop my business and gave me the confidence to move forward throughout my serial entrepreneurship, including my transition into the business & marketing coaching industry. I feel like I've been a part of the Freelance University family for a long time now, and I still love it.
How do you support Freelance University students?
I am a Community Mentor and a one-on-one mentor with Freelance University. I offer mentorship in starting a business, overall business and client management, marketing your business, developing your niche skills, client communication, and helping those who are (or feel) stuck.
Of the courses that you’ve studied during your freelance career, which one still really stands out for you – and why?
One of the first certifications courses I took was the Freelance University social media course. There is also a wonderful digital marketing certification that every business owner should take even if only to help their own business. I knew enough to get by, but the training was part of why I became successful in the social media and digital marketing sector. Craig offers so much more than just a course – he peppers marketing tips in whatever Freelance University courses he teaches, which helps you realize how you can take what you are learning and leverage it so that you, in turn, can offer those services to your clients.
There were (and still are) also workshops that help with client attraction and email marketing. Email marketing is my #1 source for gaining clients. I tell students who join Freelance University that they will be fully equipped with freelance skills in whatever area of expertise they want after taking the appropriate certifications and courses. Believe it or not, getting trained and certified can be done very quickly so that students can get their freelance careers up and running as fast as they want to learn.
You mentioned that you struggle with autoimmune diseases and other health problems but still managed to build your successful businesses while raising a family and homeschooling! Can you tell us more about the challenges you’ve faced and overcome?
Yes, I have several health conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and an Autoimmune Thyroid. I determined from the beginning that “I may have MS, but MS doesn’t have me!” Mindset is a massive thing for disabled professionals.
My physical challenges often include fatigue, chronic pain, muscle weakness and tremors, sight and hearing impairments, slurred speech, and a foggy brain. I’ve learned to walk again more times than I can remember. My family has always been a considerable support, and my husband still helps me with everyday things (dinner, laundry, etc.) that I can no longer physically do. It is all worth it, though, because each day, I wake up and see my children’s faces, and my husband and I thank God! I truly have that ‘attitude of gratitude' because you really do appreciate every day when you have faced your own mortality.
My faith also plays a big part in my mindset and helps me daily. It does not mean it is easy. Permitting ourselves to ‘BE' who we are and who we were created to be is not always easy, but accepting that reality brought me peace and helped to unleash my business creativity. There are days I must work from bed, and that is alright – although it took me a long time to come to terms with that one.
Those who are disabled or struggle with a chronic condition often lack confidence in themselves. It is a huge confidence boost to be able to work and feel needed while earning an income (even a little, in the beginning). Helping your clients and hearing that they are pleased and satisfied with your services can really build business confidence and self-esteem!
How many hours a week do you work? Does your business give you flexibility in your schedule?
Before exiting my digital marketing agency in December, I often worked 8 to 14+ hours a day, which was taking its toll on me! This is one of the reasons I decided to move in a new direction.
I work fewer hours in my new business coaching company, thankfully. I currently work 4 to 9 hours a day, but on average, probably closer to 4 to 6 hrs. I’m really trying to take better care of myself.
Your new venture, Fearless Business Boss, is in the area of marketing and business coaching. If you could give new freelancers or business owners just one tip for success, what would it be?
Take it one step at a time, and just get out there! Too often, we wait for something to be perfect, but as it's said, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just do it!”. Go ahead and just START that business. Whatever your passion is, get it out there, and start your freelancing business. You can always tweak and change things as you grow, but if you keep waiting for perfection, you may never launch it.
You have something of value to offer others, so put it out there.
And finally, do you have any favorite business and personal development podcasts you’d like to recommend to our readers?
Freelance University’s podcast is excellent and very practical, with great guest speakers. I also like to jump into Clubhouse and enjoy listening to several groups there, including “Female Entrepreneurs” and “She Leads”.
Thank you, Tammy!
Are you looking for work-from-home ideas? Are you curious about some of the best work-from-home courses?
Hop over to the Freelance University website and see what they can offer to future entrepreneurs and business owners like you! It is well worth exploring the HUGE range of classes and topics that they provide – all of which are included for one subscription fee!
In-demand freelance jobs include:
- social media management
- digital marketing
- digital event management
- content creation
- graphic design
- website design
- virtual assistance
- online business management
Freelance U offers freelancer training and guidance for all these career possibilities – and more! And better yet, it’s all included in a reasonable monthly or annual subscription rate, along with lots of extras like popular apps and software to try out or purchase at discounted rates, plus regular webinars and workshops like the one Tammy presented in her role as FreeU’s Business Management Mentor. And they also have a Freelance Directory for students, as well as a job board for those looking to hire, at no additional charge.
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Let’s hear from you!
Have you completed Freelance University courses or participated in their mentorship program?
We’d love to hear about it! Share your biggest takeaway or “a-ha” moment from your FreeU freelance training in the comments.