Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ladies, Forget Flexible – Be A Free Agent Instead

I just started a new job as beauty editor at L'Oréal. Yes, hooray!!! I'm so happy! The beauty giant has lots of major skin care and cosmetics brands under its umbrella like L'Oréal Paris, Maybelline, Kiehl's, Garnier, Kerastase, and many more. Lucky me, I get to work from home because I was hired as a consultant, and I'm so happy I registered my writing services as a legitimate business because I was able to get this dream client! Instead of getting a flexible job, which I had been hoping for these past year, I got a client that let me work wherever I want, whenever I want, as long as I submitted what they needed every month. It truly is a dream come true! Thank you, God!

Testing out lipsticks at home.

Flexible jobs appeal to women, especially mothers. A mom not only needs to be able to get her career on track, she also has to raise a child/children at the same time. People call working mamas supermoms but we all know none of us can be the best at both job and motherhood at the same time.

That's why I've been exploring income-generating pursuits like blogging, consulting, and hopefully one day, selling real things for working mamas. The farther I get away from my employment days, the more I see that entrepreneurship is the way for us mommies. You don't have to put up a brick-and-mortar store. A free agent, a.k.a. freelancer in our parts, can be your way to a life of satisfying career and devoted motherhood.

Here are the benefits of going freelance:

1. I Have Unlimited Options
Women will not and should not stop until the glass ceiling is gone forever. Until that happens, it is essential to understand and accept that it exists. Fellow feminists might see this as a slight, but it is far from it. By recognising that a glass ceiling is apparent in a particular company, you can move to a business without one. At the least, you can go to an organisation where the limit isn't as low and there is room to grow.

Freelancers get to take advantage of better opportunities merely because they are, well, unfaithful. We were raised to believe that happiness lies in finishing college, getting a job in a big company, getting married and having kids, and retiring from that same company 20 years later. Loyalty to that one company till you die! Looking around for work, getting rakets and sidelines, going freelance—these were frowned on. But I know that staying in one company limits you. It limits your professional circle, it limits the skills you know, it limits your pay. I should know because the last 5 years were WILD! But I've learned more as a freelancer in the last 5 years than I ever did as a magazine editor for 10.

I said yes to many things, like hosting an event with RJ Ledesma. I'd never have done this had I stayed employed!

2. I Can Make More Money
The gender pay gap has been an issue of debate for years. In 2017, organizations such as the BBC still don’t pay women as much as men. It’s a feature of the industry which is as infuriating as the glass ceiling for women. 

Thankfully, your role as a free agent lets you earn as much as possible. Too many men and women stay in workplaces where the opportunity for promotion is low. Ever read that Forbes article, "Employees who stay in companies longer than 2 years get paid 50% less"? Again, it’s a loyalty thing which we can’t seem to get over. As a result, an average person’s wage stagnates and gets lower as the rate of inflation increases. 

Women who are willing to switch roles give themselves the best opportunity to avoid low wages. As long as you take an offer with a higher yearly salary, there is no reason to get paid less than a man. In fact, what I love about being a freelancer is I earn more now than I did as an employee. Sure, there are stressful times like when clients don't pay on time, and so my husband and I are not averse to looking for employment, just some little job that can pay us every 15 days, while the blog and the writing business continue to be the main income source.

I learned to paint for a client. They paid me to paint my walls so why say no???

3. I Can Build My Life Around My Kids
Moms don’t have it easy because the cost of starting a family is high. Not only do we women have to spend so much on pregnancy, child birth, and child care, but we also lose out from a career point of view. Businesses may provide maternity leave and pay, yet a mother’s career is bound to languish because she has to take nine months off. Then there is the difficulty of being a mom who has a full-time job. 

Being a freelancer won’t solve the first issue, but it can help the second. Mothers who are not tied down to a position don’t have to build their life around their job. Also, because free agents pick and choose, it is possible to secure a position with flexitime. Coming in late and leaving early is an excellent way to make sure the kids are safe and secure. 

This is my life now really—family first, then whatever spare time I have, that's when I work. And crazily enough, this has resulted to more money! What! Didn't they say you have to work 10-14 hours a day just to get ahead? Well, when you're a freelancer, you don't have to work that hard. Just work smart... whenever you want to!
Like Cheka Kramer, I'm a mommy who puts her family first. It's so wonderful that prioritizing our kids worked out so well for us!

4. I Can Meet More People Who Can Propel Me Forward
As you can tell by the tone of the article, there are lots of roadblocks for women and mothers in the workplace. So it makes sense to try and hurdle as many of them as possible. Many of the obstacles are ingrained in the industry and really hard to jump over. 

However, you can sidestep any obstacle with the right people by your side. All you need to do is call them and ask for a favor. In my case, I've had to ask people how I can help them or how we can work together. That was how Ginger Arboleda of Manila Workshops and Taxumo created the Boss Bellas workshop series. She had an idea but she didn't have time to devote to it so she passed it on to me! Even my L'Oreal job came to me because I sent an email to a former colleague, just asking for a favor to put in a good word for me. She did and I got the job!

It shouldn’t come as a shock, but staying in one job won’t help your career. Yep, I said it. Women who move around the industry are more likely to meet new people in varying sectors of business. Should a free agent need help, their little black book will be full of potential candidates. Yes, it is possible to network while staying in a job, but it takes a lot of effort for moms to go to events after a hard day at work.

Ginger and me at our first Boss Bellas Workshop this year. God bless my working mama friend!

5. Life's Exciting!
The reason freelancing is an excellent option is the excitement factor. Yes, it might be frightening at times, but since you never really know what each day has in store, freelance life can get the blood pumping. Rather than rolling out of bed in the morning, dreading another boring day at work with people you despise haha, you will jump out refreshed and ready to tackle the day because who knows what will happen today??? 

The problem with this, however, is I have a hard time keeping my schedules straight. Like yesterday I told my accountant, "I don't know if I can see you this week because I don't know what my week looks like yet." She is endlessly frustrated with me, I know! 

I also know many freelancers who work not just from anywhere, but from fantabulous locales, too. They work while traveling, or their work sends them all over the world. The idea of making money while living near a beach is an enticing prospect. Lots of people ask questions such as “how do I become an international nurse?” or, “how do I find a job abroad?” Pretty cool except that, personally, as a mama to little boys, traveling doesn't excite me. That's why I took on this life so that I won't have to leave my kids, right? Well, us new moms may not be tempted to travel any time soon, but kids do grow up. Maybe one day, when the kids are busy with school and friends, I can be more mobile without any hassle. It's an exciting prospect, right? But if you're employed with a set number of leaves, you don’t have the chance to exploit the globalisation of the industry. 

"We'll have to meet on Skype, Felicia, since I'm working from this fabulous AirBnB in Canada!"

Ultimately, women and mothers need flexibility in their careers. There are other ways to secure it, such as sticking with a job which offers a balance between life and work—but this kind of job is very rare. In my experience, being a free agent not only provides flexibility but pays more and increases opportunities. 

Try exploring it, mamas! If you can provide a service or product, offer it to friends and family. They'll spread the word. Sooner or later, you just might have enough raket to actually make it your legit biz. That's how I did it! Good luck!


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