As the Great Resignation continues, freelance work has been a silver lining for some marketers

When Lia Zneimer stepped down as WeWork’s social media manager in the spring of 2020, she had initially planned to rest and recharge before moving back somewhere in-house. But as the pandemic unfolded, the social media and content strategy consultant realized that applying for full-time positions was more difficult than originally expected.

“I was pretty specific about what I wanted to do next and what kind of environment I wanted to do this job in,” Zneimer told us. She went through rounds of interviews with several companies, but found herself withdrawing applications or not getting the job she sought.

Then, a former WeWork colleague offered him a freelance opportunity with his new company. She said to herself, why not?

“I am a fairly motivated and motivated person. And I like the creative freedom and flexibility that comes with managing my own work on a daily basis. So I really liked it, ”she explained. And, like Jim Carrey’s character in Yes man, once she said yes to this opportunity, more kept coming. “It was as if the universe was opening up and the stars were aligning. And all of a sudden people started to seize opportunities. “

And it turns out that she wasn’t alone in her decision. “Among my professional circles, I have certainly seen a huge change in people who wanted to become independent or who wanted to start consulting or who decided that being in-house full-time was not for them,” Zneimer said. . According to a study recently published by Upwork, 53% of freelancers provide “skilled” services, such as marketing or computer programming, up from 45% in 2019.

Marketers, like many others in the workforce, appear to have quit their jobs in droves in recent months. They contribute to what has been commonly referred to as the “Great Resignation,” with some workers moving from in-house gigs to freelance or consultancy work. But while leaving a business to become self-employed has its advantages (think: income potential and autonomy over time), it’s not all sun, rainbows and FMH.

Exit strategies

Marketing strategist and course creator Taylor Loren told us that for her, the decision to go it alone was due to the pandemic. She quit not one, but two jobs during the pandemic – first her position as Head of Content Marketing at Later in August 2020, then as Head of Marketing at Girlboss in June 2021.

The loss of a loved one (and the pandemic itself) made her realize that she shouldn’t wait to achieve what she really wanted in life, she explained. Before, quitting a job to become self-employed was a three-year goal that she pushed back. “But it was also just wanting to have a different lifestyle,” Loren said. “I had a lot of friends who were course creators and I really envied their lifestyle and the amount of money they could make.”

Certain suspicious back-to-office mandates are also stimulating the transition to the self-employed. Flexible Talent Marketplace We Are Rosie’s Head of Talent and Experience, Katie Elliott, told us the company saw an influx of brand marketers interested in freelance work during the summer of 2021 .

“For us the big tendency for people to come in and raise their hands and say, ‘I’m going to quit my full-time job and change jobs,” was with companies asking them to return to the office, “Elliott said. . noted.

Money, money, money

Some marketers have found that freelancing can be better for them in terms of pay and hours. “I get paid almost exactly as I was in my last job, but with the consulting I’m working half the time,” Loren told Marketing Brew.

But it’s not always the case. For example, Zneimer finds that she still has questions about how much to charge customers. “It’s tough. I’m learning so much as I go, and I can see a path where freelance work is more lucrative than an in-house position for some people, but I’m definitely not there yet.

Zneimer was nervous at first about getting started financially. Although she had been “financially more prudent since March 2020”, she had also taken time off before making the decision to become self-employed, so “it wasn’t like I was saving money while I was working. the courage to Resign. “

Before going solo, Loren, who describes himself as the main breadwinner in his household, made sure to save at least four months of living expenses. “Saving to quit my job also allowed me to take time off for my mental health and choose which clients and work I felt really aligned with, instead of just taking on projects that would pay my rent that month. “said Loren. .

Seek freedom, find burnout

The ability to work from anywhere, anytime, is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of leaving a paid job. “I really like having autonomy over my schedule and learning that I’m not doing my best in the afternoon,” said marketing and growth consultant Grace Clarke, who has left her position at within the public relations firm Derris at the start of 2020.

While this freedom may be tempting, Zneimer believes that becoming self-employed is not a “solution” to the burnout that many have faced over the past two years. When leaving WeWork, Zneimer assumed his exhaustion was from his in-house job. But when she still felt exhausted working independently, she realized that the problem was more about setting limits with her time.

“I know so many self-employed people now who are like, ‘No, no, I’m completely submerged and totally underwater. My hours are outside the norm, I work a lot more than in-house “, which is a bit the opposite of the reason why so many people, myself included, wanted an independent structure in the first place”, she said. Explain.

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