How I transitioned into the freelance economy

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Image: Vasylyna Halun/ shutterstock

Five years ago, I was one year into a salary writing chore at a luxury way brand when it hit me: I was being grossly overpaid.

You read right.

I was overpaid. As a writer. In fashion.

You can imagine my boss face whenat our monthly evaluation I marched into his office, diligently listed out my responsibilitiesand informed him that I was being overpaid.

Through the most unorthodox of professional moves, I began my foray into the freelance economy.

You see, in 2011 I was hired to run a manner brands online magazine and social channels. Having merely been laid off from the editorial department at Rolling Stone , I had fantasized about operating my own book and finally “ve had my” possibility.

Six months in, I noticed that while the magazine was flourishing( we had published features with Katie Couric, Jonathan Adler and Andrew Rannells ), I was frazzled.

I was struggling to give our designer feedback. I couldnt find time to diversify our feature narratives. It was nearly impossible to plan ahead for our editorial calendar.

I didnt have any of these problems at Rolling Stone . What had changed?

Each day, I was investing hours in meets that largely had no effect on my output and simply reserved the last five minutes for social media( thats 2011 for ya ). I was constantly drew into discussions about marketings, the website, watercooler gossipnone of which were relevant to the job I was hired to do or to the job I wanted.

Mapping the new course

I knew I had to make a drastic change. So I took a hard look at my role and skillsand recognized I could do the same chore, at half the cost. It would be a win-win, as long as my employer was on board.

During our touchbase, I notified my boss that I was overpaid. After the initial shock wore off, I attained my give.

Im starting a social media consulting service, I began. Would you like to be my first patron?

I proposed that my employer agree to a one-year commitment and pay half of my salary, without advantages, effective immediately. I would continue doing the same workrunning the brands publication and social channelsbut merely come into the office twice a week.

By time I got home that evening, he had agreed.

I was elated.

The one-year commitment gave me the cushion to start my own business( a life-long nightmare ), while a reduction in the day commitment gave me freedom to engage other clients.( Social media was reaching a tipping point and my services were in high demand ).

It seemed radical at the time, but I was laying the groundwork for becoming an on-demand laborer, while my earning potential skyrocketed. In my first year, I earned three times what I did at my style writing task.

Sound appealing? To make this transition study, I committed to three key stairs 😛 TAGEND

Reading the market for business trends

The funny proportion is, this opportunity was gazing me in the face the whole period the hardest portion was acknowledging it. Once solidified, my program induced so much appreciation it would nearly have been harder NOT to start my business.

My social media services were in high demand, but before diving in, I had to ensure that social media was a viable long-term career trail. So, I researched and paid attention to market trends. I watched as social media positions explosion on job websites like Glassdoor. Five years later, I still pay attention to trends and celebrated last year when social media advertising outdid television advertising for the first time.

Isolating my skills and increasing efficiency

Have you ever met a company that didnt want to save money?

My team knew that writing and social media were my strong suits, so it built appreciation when I asked to focus on them and cut out less valuable duties. As part of convincing my employer that my job would still get done, on time, without sacrificing quality, I demonstrated that I would be cutting my hour and salary in half, ultimately helping my employers bottom line.

On my terminate, I was now free three days a week to take on other lucrative possibilities( dont belief the myth that on-demand work is less profitable than full-time ).

Spotting new business in my existing network

Though my employer gave me the greenlight, I knew this yes represented a future of many nos. I wasted no time involving brands about my newly available services and even created a list of soft leads folks who, during my full-time chore, mentioned things like Do you think our corporation could benefit from your social media services? Youd be surprised how many cues turn into clients.


Five years later, I am a proud small business owner with half a dozen contractors of my own and a patron listing that includes fashion brands( Ted Baker, Lafayette1 48 ), media brands( Food Network, HGTV) and lifestyle/ technology brands( Samsung, American Express ).

These brands hire me to write for them, host videos and curate events, while freeing up my time so I can travel. Do yoga in the middle of the day. Commit myself a create if I feel like it. Not participate in the wage gap.( You get the picture .)

And its clear that on-demand work is far from a fleeting trend its even necessitated by evolving business models and the 24/7 nature of newsrooms today.

We make a huge use of freelance labor, told The New York Times Vice President of Technology Cindy Taibi, during a panel at WorkMarket Exchange last month in New York.

Sites like WorkMarket let contractors and companies to interface, fill undertaking listings, and dispatch pay.( Disclosure: I partner with WorkMarket to write about the evolving personnel .)

Robin Hilmantel, Site Director at Womens Health, agreed with Taibi.

We put out at the least 15 parts of content per period, Hilmantel told , noting that 60 -7 0% of the pieces are penned by freelances. We wouldnt have been able to scale up without freelancers.

So whether youre a business-owner, employee or contractor: Isnt it time to construct our run, work for us?

Natalie Zfat is a novelist and social media expert who has partnered with some of the most iconic brands in the world, including Rolling Stone, Food Network, American Express and Samsung. When she’s not engaging with her half a million adherents, Zfat adoration sharing her entrepreneurial thought leadership at meetings and universities, including Carnegie Mellon, NYU Stern School of Business, The Harvard Club of New York and Internet of Things World .

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