More money, own hours: How female freelancers are earning more after leaving full time roles

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Fleur Madden

Rachel Cardine is earning more money now as a freelancer than she was in a salaried role.

It’s an added bonus she’s achieved after leaving a full-time role in government in order to set her own hours and work location while caring for a sick family member.

The flexibility – and more money – she has achieved has also helped significantly during the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“On average, as a freelancer, I’m earning between 20-50 per cent more than I was as a full-time employee in the Government,” Cardine tells Women’s Agenda. “During my best year yet, in business, I’m proud to say that I’ve doubled what I was earning as a public servant.”

Rachel Cardine
Rachel Cardine started freelancing to care for a sick family member.

Cardine’s experience is far from alone when it comes to the users of Freelancing Gems, the female-founded platform dedicated to connecting employers with women seeking freelancing opportunities.

In a recent polling of their audience, the platform found that 48 per cent of women were making more money than when they were salaried employees, and 1 in 5 are earning more than $120,000 a year.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of their members are earning the same income as they were in their corporate, salaried role while working less hours. They also found over half of respondents were earning over 80k per year from freelancing.

Freelancing Gems champions women as freelancers, consultants, sole-traders, small business owners and side hustlers, making it easy to obtain the resources needed to find worthwhile jobs across all types of industries.

Members get access to business tools, coaching, educational and networking opportunities to help grow and scale their businesses. While men are allowed to join Freelancing Gems, the platform’s content and coaching speaks specifically to the challenges faced by women in the freelancing space.

Ultimately, the platform aims to help close the gender pay gap – seeing women getting paid what they’re worth, while achieving the flexibility they want or need.

Co-founder and CEO, Fleur Madden, created the platform after learning that female consultants charged up to 38 per cent less than their male counterparts.

This felt unacceptable and she knew it was important to make room for women to get equitable work. She and the rest of the team at Freelancing Gems are on a mission to aid women in finding meaningful work that pays them what they’re worth.

“Our main goal at Freelancing Gems is for women to have ongoing work opportunities to contribute meaningfully. be it in a remote, flexible, freelance, consulting, part-time role– and that they have the knowledge and confidence to charge competitively,” says Madden.

Fleur Madden
Fleur Madden says freelancing is an opportunity for women to take control of their finances.

Merendi Leverett is another Freelancing Gems user who has found more flexibility, and at some points more weekly pay, than when she was in a full time role.

She took up freelancing work after unexpectedly losing her salaried job in government, and being left without an income.

Now, a business consultant, Leverett says she earns similar money to her full-time role, while working less hours and getting more flexibility to care for her children.

“Most weeks, I only work 20 hours as I have chosen in the past 18 months to work only school hours,” says Leverett. “And I am earning the same, if not more, than if I had a full-time job.”

Merendi Leverett
Merendi Leverett started freelancing after unexpectedly losing her government job.

Making the leap into freelancing

While freelancing can be incredibly lucrative, many people may be hesitant to leave their salaried position where regular pay is a contractual agreement.

Creative consultant and member of Freelancing Gems, Kymberly Louise, argues that the pros outweigh the cons for those willing to put in the work required of freelancers.

“Yes, sure, there is the element of no guarantee of salary each month/week, and that’s not for everyone. However, if you are great at what you do, and have built a network of business contacts, then freelancing/consulting is definitely something you can do,” says Louise.

“If you have been thinking about it, set yourself a runway and start planning to take the leap!”

Kymberly Louise
Kymberly Louise is a creative consultant and member of Freelancing Gems.

Madden notes some tips for success as a freelancer: advising women do their research on competitive rates, build a supportive network and embrace their differences to set themselves apart.

And she knows now is the time to promote opportunities for women to get work that pays what they deserve, and gives them the opportunity to have the flexibility and control they need.

“We are only just getting started,” says Madden. “Everything happening around the world right now, what rings true to me is that representation matters at all levels– government, media, health, boardrooms and workplaces, so decisions are made by women and not for women.”

This article by Freelancing Gems was first published in Women’s Agenda and written by Brianna Boecker last July 20, 2022.

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