I have found everything you said to be absolutely true.
1. I make less money than at my corporate job, but am much happier
2. it took about a 6 month learning curve for me to figure out how to make Upwork work in a way that worked for me
3. For a while I took jobs outside my area of expertise because they sounded interesting. But I've learned I can better compete and charge more in certain areas where I have strong credentials, and now I'm sticking (mostly) with that work
If I wanted to be a W-2, regardless of the economy, I could do so.
ETA: Of course I say that and a company finds me through a social media outlet asking to interview me for a full time j.o.b.
My answer is no, and while I understand how economic hardships may push people into freelancing, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.
Doing this because you have no other options is bad enough. Add the fact that people forced into freelancing don't necessarily have either the mindset or the skills that are needed for freelancing, and you get so many who fail miserably and get angry and come here to rant about how life is unfair.
I've freelanced for clients while employed and pulling down more than nice salaries in four states. When I finally made the decision to chuck the corporate game it was because I'd had more than enough of the petty nonsense.
Like most of the other commenters here - my skills were honed and proven; I knew how to run a business; I knew how to deal with people, and I knew how to sell myself and what I bring to client goal achievement.
Had I jumped into FL because of the economy and without years of training and experience, I couldn't have built a viable business as a FLer.
Had done freelancing off and on since graduation from college (more years ago than I am admitting to).
Taught middle and high school, and directed the student dramas, and love[d] the kids -- still miss those interactions. However, the state-mandated nonsense of teaching (at least here in Massachusetts) is choking the joy out of teaching -- and reducing time available to meet the needs of students. (Too much time required to feed bureaucratic-form-eating monsters with their insatiable, capricious, and ever-increasing appetites.)
The proverbial final straw that collapsed this particular camel (moi) fell onto me when this happened:
I filled in on less than a day's notice for a colleague whose husband had committed suicide and who (the colleague) was (understandably) taking the rest of the year off as a leave of absence. I did this not because I particularly needed the work, but because I knew that the kids (and faculty) needed the stability of a teacher they knew/were familiar with, especially under such difficult, sudden, and tragic circumstances, and because I had previously taught the exact series of lessons left behind by the widow, so that I knew the transition would be as smooth as possible for all concerned. I would be doing the work for reduced pay, as a per-diem long-term sub, and I agreed to that. (Rate of pay for a long-term sub is equal to the annual pay of a first-year teacher who holds only a BA degree, divided by 182 -- the number of days in our school year. No paid vacation days. No paid sick days. No paid personal days. Yet, a per-diem long-term sub is expected to attend all student-parent meetings, all faculty meetings, all open houses, etc., etc. with no extra pay, as a "regular" per diem substitute -- a "daily" sub -- would not have been expected to do.) This I agreed to do, all on a handshake, and on less than 24 hours' notice, because I loved the kids, loved the subject matter, enjoyed my colleagues, and felt as if it was more or less a public service.
The salary I had agreed to, on this handshake, was so de minimus, particularly after taxes and mandatory retirement and union contributions were taken out, that I looked upon my work as almost a volunteer gig.
The first day that I started at the fill-in job, I was already grading quizzes left by the previous teacher. I was assigning homework created by me. (Remember that I had taught this series of lessons before.) I stayed until at least 7 p.m. that first night, as I did most nights thereafter -- helping students, grading, preparing, responding to parents' concerns, etc. The second day of the fill-in, my "prep" periods were given over entirely to parent-teacher meetings for the good of struggling students. (Fine. Well and good.) In other words, I hit the ground running, and was not acting in the capacity of "just a sub." I became, immediately, the classroom teacher. The teacher of record in both form and substance.
Eleven days after I began this job, I opened my first paycheck, only to discover that, despite the handshake agreement I had come to with the principal I trusted, I was being paid NOT at the almost-volunteer-rate per-diem pay of a first-year teacher. No. I was being paid at the regular per-diem sub-rate pay: $65 (yes: sixty-five dollars!) per day. That's $65 before federal and state income taxes and mandatory Massachusetts teachers' retirement contributions (which apply to substitute teachers) were removed from the paycheck. Naturally, I thought that this was a bookkeeping error, and went directly to the principal, expecting a laugh and an apology.
Let's just say that I relied on a handshake, and my faith was mis-placed. No laugh, nor any apology, was forthcoming.
After that breathtaking lack of respect for my contributions to the school district where I had worked for almost 15 years... After that final, terrible straw fell onto my back and broke both my spine and my heart... I am now freelancing, instead of teaching middle and high school. (And I am earning as much money in less than two hours a day as I earned in one 12-hour day of the substitute teaching I described above.) (But I do miss the kids!)
Janean, at least, US education system is just as screwed as the French system. That's reassuring.
I only miss the kiddos (yes, even the "hard cases").
School admin can bleepity bleep bleep bleep off. (And I've been in admin, also one of the degrees is in School Admin -- boooooooo!!!)
I've been freelancing since university, and after a low-paying job with a startup, I took on freelancing full time. If I can help it, I'll never go back to a "regular" job because:
And as much as I criticize Upwork, I have to to be grateful that it's given me a lot of freedom
Reading Isabelle's reasons for preferring freelancing made me laugh. I identify with most of them, but my last full-time job before turning back to freelancing full time offered near-complete autonomy, unlimited paid time off, and the ability to work from home or any remote location I chose.
In the office, we had a music room stocked with guitars, keyboards, etc., old Commodore 64s with Oregon Trail on them, an X-box attached to the wall-mounted plasma in the kitchen, Starbucks' coffee 24/7, membership in a health club in the building...it was like the world's greatest freelancing gig with medical insurance.
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