Carrie Bradshaw, the iconic freelancer who worked from home at a desk in front of her window, was many Millennial women’s first exposure to what it means to freelance full-time. Every week, she wrote columns that were based on thoughtful questions she had collected.For many Millennial women, their first exposure to a full-time freelancer was Carrie Bradshaw, who iconically sat at her desk in front of her window, thoughtfully typing questions that summarized the topic of that week’s column. Much has been written on the financial impossibility of Carrie’s freelance lifestyle—drinking martinis and wearing couture—when she didn’t appear to spend much time working.
[Related: Levo’s Entry-Level Salary Report]
For Millennials, freelancing has become a symbol of honor because it allows them to have control over their work schedule and location. In other words, most young freelancers work extremely hard. Unfortunately, there is a major pay discrepancy based on experience level and gender. A large part of freelancing is being comfortable negotiating for what you deserve- but how much of that can be contributed to the fact that women are freelance more often than not?
Read on to discover how full-time freelancers feel about their present earnings and where they see themselves developing in 2016:
$26,000 “The feast or famine scenario is very true as a freelancer in media. However, I see it as the future for many media professionals. Freelancing will not necessarily make you rich, but offers a chance to do more meaningful work and stay open to the numerous possibilities in life. I make less than I did at my 9-to-5, but I was terribly unhappy before. As a freelancer, I have learned more about myself than if I had just stayed in a stagnant role at my old job. Sometimes getting back down to basics is better for your health. Future expansion of my business will include toolkits and e-books. I’m really looking forward to that creative process.” —Erin, 27, social media marketer for non-profits in Denver, Colo.
$30,000 “I definitely make less than I did at my last job as a magazine editor. My highest salary was $42,500. I work full-time at a summer camp every summer and that helps a lot. I am definitely not sufficiently comfortable financially and I live paycheck to paycheck. Freelancing seems like a fun life and to an extent it is, but at times it sure is scary!” —Kate, 30, piano teacher and writer in Washington, D.C.
$40,000 “I’ve been freelancing full-time since I graduated from college in June 2013. Each year I’m growing and making a little more. I’m lucky that I get to travel a lot for my work and don’t have to spend much money on groceries because I eat out so frequently. The independence (I can take conference calls while laying in bed…not that I make a habit of that) and flexibility to travel is the biggest perk of what I do. I do hope my income continues to grow this year, of course. I know seasoned freelancers that make six figures and hope that I can reach that point as well.” —Genevieve, 24, food and travel writer in Chicago
$50,000 “I have only worked as a freelancer in the entertainment industry. I think this salary would be fantastic if I lived anywhere except New York. The number is high but the cost of living here means I am still living paycheck to paycheck paying for rent, insurance, food, internet, etc. At the end of the two weeks between paychecks, I am precariously close to $0 in my bank account. I have absolutely no savings after two years of work. I am not comfortable because if I get sick or miss a few days of work, the balance can be thrown off and I will find myself unable to pay for a basic bill. I will earn less this year than last year since I will be going to full time graduate school in the fall.” —Sierra, 23, production assistant in New York City
$70,000 “I am happy with how much I’ve been making, and it definitely is more than I made working a day job. Although there are more costs involved as a freelancer (i.e., healthcare, self-employment tax, equipment), I love the freedom and flexibility. I do have plans on growing my income by getting more clients and possibly launching a product to generate an additional stream of revenue. I am also a fiction writer, so I would like focus on completing some personal projects as well.” —Jackie, finance writer in Los Angeles
$81,000 “I work more than the typical 40 hour work week to have what I have and to make what I make. And I would make that choice every single day even if I had a 9-to-5 job. Passion trumps practicality for me.” —Hope, 27, fashion and entertainment marketing manager in New York City
$125,000 “I am head-over-heels in love with my company and what I get to do every day. My favorite quote for people who are thinking about taking the leap? There’s always more money to be made, more projects to be found, and more clients to have in your practice. The hustle is not always easy but it is rewarding. The first part of taking the leap is securing the salary you need to survive; for me, it was a match of my full-time salary. From there, the sky is truly the limit. I have big plans to grow this year and I already make more than I made in a 9-5. I work more, of course, but I choose my clients and projects, I choose when and where to work and I choose how I work.” —Victoria, 27, digital media marketer in New York City