Being an Empowered Female Freelancer with Writing on Glass
In a Honeybook study surveying more than 200,000 freelancers, freelancing women tend to set their rates lower than their male counterparts as low as 32%. Imbalances like these and empowering fellow women breaking into the gig economy is Stephanie Newman’s jam. She creates inspiring content for her site Writing on Glass and hosts courses through her feminist incubator to open the conversation for women in the gig economy.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been freelancing for two years, and before that I was a strategy consultant and a writer on the side. While I enjoyed being a strategist, I was so passionate about writing that my desire to focus on my independent creative work started to outweigh the benefits of having a full-time job. There were only so many years I felt comfortable relegating my writing life to early mornings and weekends! Freelancing has allowed me to prioritize what I want when I want, and I love it.
What inspired Writing on Glass?
Writing on Glass came from two strong impulses of mine: to write, and to share what I was learning about feminism. I started Writing on Glass the day after the 2016 election as a feminist blog. Honestly, I felt so downtrodden by Hillary’s loss, and her concession speech on breaking that final glass ceiling is what inspired me to start tracking my personal growth as a feminist. For me, that meant sharing the books I was reading by women and underrepresented groups, writing publicly about my journey as a working woman, and amplifying the voices of other females.
How did the community grow?
The audience that organically came to Writing on Glass consisted of so many other freelancers and creative women. Their feminist questions centered on finding financial freedom in patriarchal work cultures, overcoming creative self-doubt, and advocating for political change in a way that felt aligned with their strengths. In other words: How could they be feminist freelancers? I wanted to really serve these people, so Writing on Glass evolved into a platform that helps freelancers earn more money, find creative freedom, and yes, smash the patriarchy.
I’m really inspired by the Femcyclopedia. Tell us more on how you approach developing the coaching and the content of Writing on Glass.
Thank you! Before I write any content, I make sure that the subject matter meets two criteria: 1) it satisfies an area of curiosity for me; 2) it adds incredible value to my readers. With the Femcyclopedia, I realized that people needed an accessible way to engage with feminist literature. With my other blog content, I try to focus on resolving more specific pain points for my audience. If I’m hearing that they’re having trouble raising their rates or setting boundaries with clients, which feminist author can I spotlight who has lessons to help?
What’s the most common roadblock you’ve noticed for female freelancers starting out? Best advice to confront it?
Self-doubt. It’s unsurprising that we female freelancers second-guess ourselves. After all, statistics show that women are seen as less competent than men. We’re also less likely to be taken seriously. How does this translate into a freelancing roadblock? In my experience, it means that clients unwittingly ask me to work for free. They don’t do this maliciously. They’re just not used to working with women who refuse to accommodate out-of-scope demands.
The best advice I have for female freelancers is to very clearly communicate scope upfront, sign a contract, and stand firm on your terms every step of the project. Freelancers are business owners. And as a business owner, you shouldn’t be expected to do your clients free favors. Deliver the best work possible and add tremendous value? Yes. Give away the value of your work for free? No.
What are some of your favorite Croissant spaces?
I love Blender Workspace. It’s such an elegantly designed environment. And on the more whimsical side, there are lemurs on the wallpaper. Otherwise, I’m a big fan of Bond Flatiron, The Yard on the Upper West Side, and WorkHouse.
What’s next for you and for Writing on Glass?
I’m re-launching my online course Feminist Incubator on September 19. It’s a 4-week video training on how to start and scale your creative business as a feminist. What does that mean? It means that we focus on setting the foundation for a business that expresses your true self, brings you financial sustainability, and contributes to the more equal world you want to see. Better yet, we do this by drawing on feminist writers like Audre Lorde, Gloria Steinem, and Roxane Gay — all of whom freelanced at some point, by the way!
To join the waitlist for the Feminist Incubator, you can download my free guide 101 Resources for Feminist Creatives. Then you’ll get priority notice as soon as the course opens for enrollment in September.