Photo provided by Tia Meyers

Photo provided by Tia Meyers

Three years ago, I was unexpectedly laid off from my job at the tech startup, FiftyThree. Being laid off was traumatic but with NYC bills to pay, I didn’t have time to wallow over the loss of my job.

As luck would have it, a former FiftyThree colleague was in the process of starting a new business. Knowing that I had experience in social media and business partnerships, she asked if I could provide my expertise in a freelance role. 

The only problem was that I wasn’t versed in the freelance world. I began a frantic Google search in an attempt to figure out how to write a contract, how much to charge clients and what tools I would need to start my freelance career. I was frustrated at the lack of clear answers to my basic questions and so I abandoned my Google search for face-to-face coffee meetings with acquaintances of mine who had freelance experience. These meetings taught me that a community of freelancers is where the tips and tricks of the trade are learned.

A few months into my journey I experienced what many freelancers go through at some point in their careers: the frustration over not getting paid for the work I produced.  

At the end of a three-month contract with one of my Manhattan-based clients, I submitted my invoice but the only result was... crickets. It took months of demands for a check to be issued. During that period, I searched the internet for information on how to deal with non-payment. And again, solutions to this problem were hard to come by. 

The struggle I faced in being laid off and searching for answers on how to freelance effectively was my source of inspiration for Freelancing Females. 

I wanted to host a safe space where women could learn from each other and gain knowledge about today’s growing "gig" economy. I created Freelancing Females as a closed Facebook group and very quickly this virtual community took off. As I watched women share their wins, gain support over loses and fears I realized that we, as freelancers, could use our joint knowledge to help redefine the typical 9-5 job for women. But in order for freelancing women to gain the access needed to create a job that supports their unique abilities, Freelancing Females needed to become something more than a Facebook group. 

After months of planning, a crowdfunding campaign and a lot more work in between, the Freelancing Females website will launch in September. Our goal is to give further resources to women who want to build jobs around their true passions. Through our website, we will provide a platform for women to grow their business and find flexible work, along with a blog and downloadable resources to help improve their personal business. 

Today, at just two years of age, Freelancing Females is a global community with over 30,000 members. Our powerful group of freelancers lends support to other members: I have watched as members provided support to single moms, helped women come out of abusive relationships and assisted in building and launching a large campaign to bring Self-Esteem Rising classes to young women. 

Freelancing isn’t always smooth sailing. It is hard work and the payoff has only come because I took a chance and worked really hard. Once I pushed through the process of setting up my career, learned how to create contracts and proposals and untangled the web of healthcare (oy!) the positives now far outweigh the negatives. I have financial freedom (there’s no cap on what I can earn), I have the ability to build upon the skills I am most interested in, and, best of all, I have complete autonomy over my life and career. 

Being laid off and persevering through the initial difficulties in starting my freelancing career turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me because it allowed me to create the amazing and supportive community of Freelancing Females.

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