In the past, people often referred to having a 9-to-5, full-time job as having a “safety net.” Working independently meant living without a safety net, and instead with greater risk and insecurity.
But as growing numbers of independent workers are discovering, the increased freedom, flexibility and financial opportunity can more than make up for the perceived downsides of working on your own.
In fact, the idea that full-time work is secure and stable ignores the frustrations many people encounter in that world. For them, the safety net ensnares them in longer hours, routinely interrupted vacation time, and endless Zoom calls.
When full-time work means less quality time
That’s the world that Jess Murphy finally decided to leave.
She had spent over 16 years as a digital marketing professional, mainly in the agency world, where she worked with all kinds of clients, including big brands like McDonald’s.
“When I was working full-time, I was a single parent, and I’d often feel that I wasn’t able to have as much flexibility as I needed,” says Jess. “I felt like I was running out of time with my daughter, missing out on little moments with her, having her staring at me at night asking when would I be finished with work.”
“So in August of 2020, I suddenly decided to go independent. To be honest, it was a scary time. COVID-19 was still raging, and it wasn’t immediately clear to me how to move forward. But I was also very burned out and feeling like I was permanently connected to my phone and laptop.”
Those issues are common in the full-time world. But they’re often part of the culture in the digital agency world where Jess worked.
However, it wasn’t the only catalyst that led Jess to make the leap to freelance work.
When the COVID lockdown hit, a number of small businesses in her town outside of Atlanta were struggling to stay afloat. She wanted to help them.
“I began working on my own time with some of those businesses to help them with marketing strategies and media, trying to find ways to keep them going,” says Jess. “The company where I was working full-time found out about it, and they made it clear they did not like me splitting my time.”
“In general, I really loved my time at that agency, but the demand that I dedicate all of my time to them was too much. They told me that if I wanted to continue helping those businesses, I’d be demoted. That was just too much for me.”
Even though Jess knew it was time to make a change, she had to face the unknowns that often come with leaving full-time work.
Would the lack of a predictable paycheck make it harder to pay bills?
Would it be possible to save for retirement without a 401(k)?
What about healthcare?
Finding freedom in flexible work
But Jess knew she had marketable skills, and those skills were in demand. More importantly, she desperately wanted a different type of life.
“When I first made the decision to go independent, people asked me if I was scared,” she says. “It was scary, but making the change turned out to be 1000% worth it. Since then, I’ve never experienced a lack of work.”
“I’m also involved in a greater diversity of work than I was before. I honestly feel that I have more stability in my life now than I did when I was at the agency. After all, if they lost one of the clients I supported, there was a good chance they’d let me go.”
Jess makes it clear that if you have the drive, the desire, and a positive outlook, you can definitely succeed on your own. It’s a mistake to let the unknowns and uncertainties of independent work hold you back.
“I’m very aware that there can be some downsides to being on your own,” she says. “Everything is a give and take. But the benefits of being on your own can certainly outweigh any disadvantages, especially when you have We Are Rosie as a partner.”
Working for yourself, not by yourself
She doesn’t skip a beat when asked if being part of the We Are Rosie community helped her transition successfully to independent work.
“They have been wonderful, right from the start,” she says. “When I told them of my decision, within the first few days they were sending me opportunities for work. But they also were quick to caution me not to take on too much too soon. They reminded me why I made this move in the first place.”
“They’re such a joyful group to be around. They’re almost like part of my family now. They’re an incredible resource to have, especially at the start, so you don’t feel like you have to find your way all by yourself.”
Jess is also quick to add that her decision to go out on her own had a ripple effect in her community of friends. She says a number of them followed her into working independently, and they’ve enjoyed the same flexibility and quality-of-life improvements.
“There’s a community of us who have opted out of full-time work,” says Jess. “Every time I run into one of them, they seem a lot happier; they just have an aura about them now.”
“I think it’s because they’re able to truly live their lives and not have their jobs completely control them. Being independent allows you to prioritize yourself and your family in ways that full-time work simply doesn’t.”
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