Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Five years ago, freelancing was already a growing demographic. The pandemic only boosted freelancer numbers; now, there are more freelancers than ever! We won't sugarcoat it: freelancing can be tough. But we can learn so much from the people who've been where you are now — and succeeded.
Here's where our guest Tia Meyer Grado, and the Freelancing Females can help.
In this episode of The Pollen Podcast, Tia, the founder of Freelancing Females, shares how she initially started the group as a resource and support for fellow female freelancers. Over time, the community grew to a point where she decided it could become a business to support freelancers further. She encourages freelancers to get paid what they're worth and finally have the time for themselves!
Listen to this episode and be empowered by Tia’s journey and community.
Create your own creative entrepreneurship story of clarity, professional confidence, and profit. Join Diana’s 90-day group course Camp Clarity and learn everything you wish you already knew, like how to land dream clients, harness the power of social media, and make the money you deserve. Learn more here.
🔥 Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
Be inspired by Tia’s journey to creating and growing her company, Freelancing Females.
Learn how to focus on a particular craft as a freelancer and how you don’t need to get it right immediately.
Discover the future of Freelancing Females and how it can help you grow as a freelancer.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia
Free Time: Lose the Busywork, Love Your Business by Jenny Blake
For the Love of Freelance Podcast by Freelancing Females
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🎧 Episode Highlights
[05:57] What Tia’s Learned From Freelancing Females
Tia is the founder of Freelancing Females, For the Love of Freelance Podcast, and is soon opening a business called The Freelance Shop.
Freelancing Females is a global community. It now has over 300,000 members.
She shares a recent challenge in improving their membership system. The membership system requires more continuous work compared to previous one-off services.
Early on, she also hired an agency for branding but failed to ask the right questions. She eventually went to another person who redid the branding.
[15:02] How Freelancing Females Started
Freelancing Females started as a Facebook group where freelancers can ask questions and support each other.
Over 500 people joined the group during the first month. When Tia hosted their first event, more than 50 women showed up.
This made Tia realize how a community like this was needed and then proceeded to create a website.
Most companies create a product and build a community around it. Freelancing Females went the other way around.
[19:04] Freelancing Females’ Growth
Despite being offered investments and acquisitions, Tia turned them down. She wanted to make all the decisions for the community's direction.
As the group grew, it demanded more resources and time than Tia could sustainably provide.
Through I Fund Women and fundraising, Tia got enough funds to create a website.
Freelancing Females currently earns money through their membership directory, job board, and partnership with companies.
The Freelancing Females’ Facebook group is still free for anyone to join.
[26:17] How Freelancing is Different for Women
Five years ago, Tia observed how Facebook groups for freelancers tended to be harsher. Most women also don’t feel comfortable posting there.
Companies tend to pay freelancing women 40% less than their male counterparts.
Tia wants to ensure women freelancers get fair pay and receive resources and support.
[28:24] The Culture of Sharing Pricing
Freelancers typically learn and do more than people working nine to five jobs.
Tia encouraged women to share their rates because it creates a ripple effect of everyone raising their rates.
Raising prices also helps clients realize the worth of their services and not expect the cheapest rates.
Tia: “We are freelancers and you're hiring us because our talents are very specific and very niched down and we worked very hard to educate ourselves and learn those talents….you have so many hats and you have to be your own lawyer, your consultant, your salesperson, et cetera. So I'd say freelancers have a lot to give and I do not want that to go to waste.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[32:48] What Made Tia Who She is Today
Tia was an only child and grew up in Connecticut. She was very independent for her age.
Her experiences and support allowed her to go out solo and create the life she wanted.
Every experience, both good and bad, shapes who you are. Permit yourself to make mistakes.
Tia entered college as a music student but shifted to PR and marketing. She eventually worked for a corporation and did event planning.
In the full episode, Tia shares how building communities and getting laid off helped her realize she could utilize her contacts and work with clients directly.
Tia: “All these small steps shape you into who you are. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but even the mistakes definitely help that.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[41:29] Tia’s Advice for Struggling Freelancers
Freelancing is a world of possibilities. You can freelance in anything.
Ask yourself: what do I truly love, and what am I good at?
Be open to opportunities and services. You’ll eventually get clarity on what you like and are good at.
You don’t need to be in your dream situation immediately. Allow yourself to work on several things.
Give yourself grace and time.
Tia: “The one beauty about freelancing that I've learned is that there are jobs that you don't even know what's out there, you could pretty much freelance in anything. When you go to college, you have these certain degrees that you can get, freelancing gives you the ability to go beyond those bounds.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[45:31] Future of Freelancing Females
More people are freelancing because of the pandemic.
The next goal for Freelancing Females is to become the place for freelancers to access resources as individuals and businesses.
They'll soon launch season two of their podcast, and open The Freelance Shop.
[48:07] Tia’s Lightning Round
Tia is a Pisces Sun, Capricorn Rising, and Capricorn Moon.
Everyone can be creative in many ways. For Tia, being creative is similar to curiosity, observation, and imagination.
Communities can be expansive. It helps you see different perspectives and how you can apply them to your own business and life.
Tia enjoys reading fun books aside from business-oriented ones. She’s currently reading a book about free time and how it’s more precious than money.
If money, time, and resources didn’t matter, Tia would want to create a van coffee shop.
Tia Meyers Grado is the founder of Freelancing Females, which started as a small group to discuss non-payment issues and has quickly grown into the world's largest community for freelancing women. Tia also started the For the Love of Freelancing Podcast.
Aside from Freelancing Females, Tia is a consultant for businesses focused on the freelance market and a coach to many freelancers. Previously, she was an events manager at JetBlue, then managed the community for the tech startup FiftyThree.
Enjoyed this Podcast on the Power of Community?
We often think freelancers do everything themselves, and this is true to a large extent. However, freelancers cannot exist in isolation. They need an expansive community to continuously grow — from referrals to improving their network, mindset, and even pricing.
Many people enter freelancing without knowing how to get paid what they're worth and end up getting taken advantage of. Let's get paid what we're due and live a better life!
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Tia Grado: We are freelancers and you're hiring us because our talents are very specific. And we worked very hard to educate ourselves and learn those talents. Once I went freelance, I learned so much more than I did in a typical nine to five because I wasn't within a box. You know, where was the learning from that? You know, as a freelancer, you have so many hats. So I say freelancers have a lot to give, and I do not want that to go to waste.
Diana: Welcome to Pollen, the podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Diana Davis, multi passionate creative, business coach, Gemini, manifesting generator, macha drinker, and travel junkie. I'm also the founder of Diana Davis Creative, where I went from a six figure photography business to coaching creative entrepreneurs like you. If you want to have a career and a life you love, you're in the right place.
On this show, I'll be coaching on all things, creative entrepreneurship, and you'll hear stories from fellow creative entrepreneurs that will show you it is possible to do life the way you want to. They'll share the nitty-gritty of their journeys, like the real shit, and how they are doing it differently. I'm stoked to have you along on this journey. Let's go.
Hi, Pollen listeners, we have another epic episode for you this week. But before we dig in, I want you to know what's going on in the world of DDC. We are opening our doors for the waitlists for all of our programs. Right now. The next camp clarity, round seven, it just turned two years old, insane, is starting in October, so you can hop on the waitlist right now. Link is in the show notes, link is in the bio and my Instagram, you can go to Diana Davis Creative and learn more about it. That is for the entrepreneur, who is in need of confidence, cache and clients. Learn more at my website.
We also have Ascend, my Higher Level Mastermind that is a super intimate group and such a beautiful sisterhood that starting again in November. We already have people filling the spots for that. So absolutely get on the waitlist and apply ASAP if you're interested in that. That is for the entrepreneur who is already getting clients having things flow in, but you're ready to expand, ascend and grow with a beautiful, incredible group of other women creative entrepreneurs.
The last thing that's so exciting, and this is what I talked about when I say detox your product suite, I have created and honestly morphed my one on one container. So I used to do one on one clients for three months, we'd have a call almost every week, we had a Slack channel. And it was amazing. But it was no longer lighting me up and it was no longer fitting with my lifestyle or my clients lifestyle. So we have launched a brand new container that is Voxer only. And it is basically having a coach in your back pocket.
So we're able to chat throughout the week, really workshop, anything that's on your mind, in your business, anything that's really activating right now are potent for you. And I am there. Instead of having zoom calls every week being tied to a schedule, Zoom fatigue, you can just have me at your fingertips basically on this walkie talkie app. I do this with my coach, and it's incredible. And I can't wait to work with the three people who I'm going to accept into that program. You can also apply for that in the show notes, and the link in my bio or on my website. Without further ado, here's the next episode.
This week's episode is a guest episode with my friend Tia who is the founder of Freelancing Females. If you don't know about Freelancing Females, you're going to learn all about it. Tia knows what it's like to not get paid. And it turns out she's not the only one. What started as a small group designed to discuss non payment issues quickly grew into the world's largest community of freelance women. What's really cool is I got to be a part of that when it was just getting started. Freelancing Females is now a safe haven for all who identify as women to share their wins, losses, fears and knowledge and our ever growing gig project based and freelance economy.
After working in marketing and community Tia channeled her experience into building Freelancing Females from the ground up in May of 2017, which was the year that I got laid off and when went full time, “freelance”, I now call myself an entrepreneur. Now Freelancing Females is 300,000 members strong — insane — all of whom are vetted active freelancers. Tia keeps a hands-on role and executive leadership while working on her newest ventures, For the Love of Freelance Podcast and The Freelance Shop launching in September. If you want to find Tia, check any dog friendly Austin coffee shop. She loves to travel, spoil her dog Mango, sample every iced coffee available to womankind, and basically just live her best freelance life.
You're gonna love this episode. It's really a how-I-built-this, and kind of an accidental career for Tia that she's just totally embraced. So check it out, rate it, review it, share it on Instagram, we would love love, love to see where you're listening and enjoy.
Hello Pollen listeners. I am so excited to have my friend Tia of Freelancing Females in the room in the house. She is such a good friend way back in the day from New York when Freelancing Females was just a little baby community, which is so cool. I'm so excited to have you. Hello.
Tia: Hi. Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for having me.
Diana: Yes. Where are you calling in from now?
Tia: I'm calling in from Austin, Texas.
Diana: Never thought Tia would move from New York to really anywhere. Thought she would be a New Yorker the whole time. I've known her into the rest of life. But you know, Austin, Texas, apparently is where it's at.
Tia: Once a New Yorker…
Diana: Yeah, always a New Yorker. Right?
Tia: …always a New Yorker.
Diana: For sure. So let's dig into your story. I want you to introduce yourself, as you would now like who is Tia at this moment?
Tia: Okay. Yeah, I'm Tia. I am the founder of Freelancing Females. I also have recently founded a podcast called For the Love of Freelance and coming up soon a new business called The Freelance Shop. So we're all in on the freelance life over here.
Diana: I love it. I can't wait to hear about it.
Tia: But I am a founder true and true. And I have worked for myself for the past six years now and have loved every moment of learning and trials and tribulations. And this year is probably one of our biggest growth years. So really excited to be chatting after all these years.
Diana: Yes, I know. It's been such a cool evolution to see. Speaking of, we're just gonna jump right into what you said: the trials and tribulations and we'll get to your whole winding road. But what would you say would maybe be like a couple of top trials and tribulations that you've gone through building this and what is Freelancing Females for the people who don't know in the back?
Tia: Yes, so Freelancing Females is a worldwide community of over 300,000, freelance women. And we provide mentorship, job opportunities and support to women.
Diana: Amazing, and it is so helpful. I've gotten so many jobs out of it. It was actually I think, like maybe the first couple of weeks of getting laid off for me from publishing and Hearst, the magazine world, I found Freelancing Females, and we were actually able to connect right away because there wasn't, I mean, you are such a present founder. You're not like way behind the scenes, like most people could actually have a chat with you if they really wanted to, which was so cool, but it was a lot smaller at that time. Do you remember that would have been 2017? Like how?
Tia: Yeah, right. When we started, we had, you know, a few 1000 people in the community at the time. And I really was able to do a lot of hands-on events because I had just left the event space not long ago. And that was you know, my pride and joy of meeting our community and I love doing it. I still do. But yeah, now everybody is spread out around the world and COVID definitely changed that a little bit.
Diana : Yeah, absolutely. Which is kind of a double edged sword but also a silver lining right where you could expand globally and didn't have to be in New York as much and that kind of thing. But yeah, I found Freelancing Females and definitely met up with you. We were also in the same neighborhood, which was really cool. I lived in Carroll Gardens. You lived in Gowanus, meet up in Greenpoint, and do all these events and yeah, I definitely got gigs from Freelancing Females and also hired my accountant through Freelancing Females — Candace, who I had on the podcast a while ago just through recommendations.
Like anywhere I had any sort of question around health insurance for freelancers, all of that stuff, I always went to Freelancing Females. So really cool. So, yeah, people should check it out. And we'll drop all the links in the bottom. And it is definitely evolved from that Facebook group, which we'll talk about. But top level, what are those trials and tribulations?
Tia: Oh, gosh, okay, trials and tribulations lately, or in the past, you know, 10 years?
Diana: If you could pick like two big ones, over the course of Freelancing Females,
Tia: Okay. We actually just had a big trial and tribulation where we built out a really wonderful directory of freelancers. And we decided to partner with a website builder who was coming out with a new product that would have changed the way our membership was. And we were promised the world I would say in terms of it had all the same features that we had already been utilizing, if not more, and it was a really wonderful, big name company that you're just so excited to work with, because we'd been utilizing them for a while now. And I still love their product, I think it was just that they came out with this new product of theirs way too soon, and we became the guinea pig of their product.
It caused, I'd say, like 12 months of extra work for us in terms of like, workarounds and just trying to fix the kinks. And going back to the company being like, we need these changes now, we need these systems put in place for us so that we can give our freelancers the best available resource and information as possible. And so we actually just decided that we were going to fully pivot from that company and move on to the next and create an even better product for freelancers, which will probably be coming out next year.
But you just, you got stuck in something because you create a membership or some type of offering that you're kind of consistently working on. Whereas a lot of other products that we have are one off, you know, if we need to change something completely, we can just change it. Whereas if you're in a membership or system, it's a lot harder, because that's an ongoing area that you're always consistently working through. So that was one of our biggest that we've been working on lately. And it also kind of made a step back.
The second, I would say, let's see. When I first started Freelancing Females, I felt like there was a need of utilizing a really great designer and spending the money on branding. And I had a larger name that actually said that they would work with us. And I was very excited. It was this agency that had become pretty popular. And we hired them right off the bat. And I didn't ask the right questions, I'd say because I thought that they would take us on and do really great work from the work that I had seen with the larger companies I worked with.
I think we were just their smaller fish in the sea that they just didn't really care about. And it ended up costing us about $10,000. And we ended up going with one off person who came in and redid our branding and did such an absolutely wonderful job. And it was a big learning opportunity to realize, you know, there's a lot behind the scenes that you just never realized until you start working on these things. And that's why I say you're always learning, you're always making mistakes. And as long as you really know when to pivot and how quickly to pivot. You'll keep going in business, but you're always going to make those typical mistakes. Yeah, especially at the beginning.
Diana: Such a good lesson to like, not try to hold on to it and make something out of just muck. It's like luck at this point. And it's slipping through your fingers and you're trying to like make it something because you spent ten grand on it instead of just like you know what, we're just going to move on and I could picture as a former designer, that kind of thing getting passed down to like, oh, yeah, here's a junior designer will throw this bone to you.
Tia: Here’s our intern!
Diana: Yeah, here's our intern. Shoot. Yeah, I love that. We're going to kind of skip around a little bit as far as like timeline, but I would love to just talk about this membership. So you started as a Facebook group. How did that even come about first of all?
Tia: The Facebook group started about five years ago. And this was prior to me thinking Freelancing Females would become anything more than just a Facebook group. And I started it because I was freelancing myself. I had done it for about a year and truly loved it. But when I started freelancing, that word wasn't thrown around much. I knew that when I was younger, my mom was a freelance paralegal and works for herself. But other than that, you know, I didn't have any friends or contacts that really freelanced before. I had very little space.
It's very isolating, which is one of the reasons why we started the Facebook group, but I started receiving a lot of women reaching out to me about how to freelance. What do I do? What do I charge? And I asked those same questions to the one contact that I had at the time, who freelanced How do I create a proposal? How do I reach out to clients and I kept repeating myself, and I wanted to create a place that people could go and ask the questions that needed to be asked, because I still had questions.
I was brand new, I was just learning this alongside everybody else, but maybe, you know, a few months ahead of them. And so I created a Facebook group where people could ask what to charge on typical clients, they could also post their own jobs, because if a photographer is working with a client, they might need a designer and et cetera.
So I added my friends, I added a few other freelancers that I knew. And it was also at the time that I just went through a large non payment issue with a bigger company in New York. And I was just like, this can't be the way that there's absolutely no resources for freelancers, especially women, because it is a very different world for us five years ago, and still today, but a little different now. And I just made a Facebook group. And the first month we had it up 500 people joined.
I hosted our first event in New York, and over 50 women came. And after that, I thought to myself, this is something that's needed. So why don't we create a website, at least for people to land on it to see where to go. And then from there, one of the things about Freelancing Females was five years ago, we set out to create a space for women, and gender minority freelancers to collaborate and connect and create a life around their passions through education, and resources and inspiration. But most companies come up with a product, and then they strive to build community around it. And we did exactly the opposite of where we cultivated and cared for our community, offering them products and services and opportunities.
From the Facebook group that then evolved into us asking what the freelancers needed, and learning what our community needed and building it from there.
Diana: Yeah, that community piece literally gave me chills, it's like, starting with your why first, truly, and then letting the rest come afterwards and actually listening to your people to hear what they need.
Tia: We did a lot of surveys. And you know, it was wonderful to really learn what was needed then. And today, we're kind of relearning that exact question
Diana: Always changing. So we went from Facebook group, and we started these events and products. But when you know, can we talk about like the wasn't technically a Kickstarter? And what was it??
Tia: Yeah, we fund…we fund women. I Fund Women.
Diana: I Fund Women. Okay, can we talk about that? And like, how so you're freelancing on the side? And can we ask, what were you? What kind of freelance were you doing at the time,
Tia: I did social media consulting. And at the time, I was getting paid pretty highly,
Diana: I would say, and this was like, your side, hustle, Freelancing Females.
Tia: This is my side hustle.
Diana: Like your love that probably wasn't making a whole lot at the time, right?
Diana: And you're moderating this Facebook group, which I remember talking to you and you just being like, I can't do this anymore. Like, this is crazy. I think it was 100k people at the time, and it was just, you know, you were filtering every post and making sure it was appropriate. And other than that, all the stuff. So you decide, okay, let's bring this into something more into something made into something more valuable. What did that process looks like? How did you decide to get funding? What did that look like? Was it easy? Was it hard? Like, tell us that story?
Tia: Yeah. So I never wanted to take on an investor. And I've been true to myself for the past five years, and we've been offered investments. We've actually been offered acquisitions this past year. And one of the things that I cared very deeply about was that right now I can make my own mistakes. And I can make all the decisions for where we want to bring the community. And once I bring on an investor, that would change it completely.
I'd seen that before within friends, companies within the tech startup that I had been previous to freelancing. And I didn't want someone to come in and say, “Well, this is where you need to go.” So to build Freelancing Females at the beginning, really, we needed just a Kickstarter of funds. And I had been putting all of my time and effort into our Facebook group, which was an absolute wonderful community. But our freelancers were asking for more things, more resources more of our time. And I was moderating in the Facebook group every single day on my own. And that is hours of moderation. There was not a day that I wasn't in the Facebook group for the first few years of Freelancing Females.
I just got not paid because it's a free resource. And I got burned out. So within, I'd say, like, almost at the end of our second year, as we were starting to build out more of a community and asking the questions of what people needed. It was, you know, a directory and a job board, and just access to our resources. So I had found this newer company at the time called I Fund Women where it was kind of like a Kickstarter, but you were able to receive all of your funds. It was marketed directly towards women, they had a really wonderful mission, there was a lot of opportunity at the time, and we needed to start asking our community for help. We helped them for many years, this was the time for us to ask for help.
I didn't want to give away a percentage of my company or anything of the sort. So this was a really great way for us to kind of bring in a little bit of funds. Nothing crazy. We brought in about $35,000, which, you know, seems like a good amount of money. But once you start developing a website and everything else, those funds go by very quickly. We reached out to friends and family and the community and we successfully raised those funds.
I also had a really crazy idea while I was living in Gowanus, Brooklyn, that why don't we have a physical pop up shop that are freelancers who have physical products, send them into us as a donation, and we sell those products, and those products, then help us fund this crowdfunding campaign. Additionally, and it was a really great way for us to meet more of our community at the time, we just had a blast, and it was amazing. And it meant so much to us.
So that was how we started to fund Freelancing Females and just you know, get that kickstart of cash flow that we needed to create a larger, well,create Freelancing Females into a true company, versus just a community.
Diana: So from there, how does Freelancing Females make money now, how is it sustainable?
Tia: We have a few different ways now that Freelancing Females makes money. And one of them is our directory of freelancers. It is a membership that people pay to belong to, and they can advertise their services for potential clients to come to them. Wecond, we make money through our job board people post to our job board now. And that is really a nice passive income stream for us. We have created it so it's not such a high lift. And then the third way is partners, larger companies trying to reach our community. So we have a large newsletter, we have a large social following, Facebook group, and we reach around the world. So partners come to us.
We are very picky about who we talk about, we ensure that it's going to be a company that we would want to use ourselves and you know, it could be an invoicing software. It could be Zoom or Slack or Notion. And they'll come to us and say hey, we want to advertise on your podcast or through your newsletter or in other ways, and then we work with them on that. I'd say that that's where our largest chunk of money comes from. We try to keep our funds very low for what we charge our freelancers, we have the free component of our community, and then the paid component. But as freelancers we understand that everybody's on a budget, so we try to keep our components for them very low and the businesses that hire.
Diana: What does the free component look like now? Is it the Facebook page still?
Tia: It’s the Facebook page still. Yeah. So you can definitely jump in there. There's years of resources and answers to questions that you probably don't even need to post yourself anymore, you could just do a quick search. And then we have our aid component, which is a private Slack channel, the directory, and we also host workshops and events, and we have a private newsletter for them.
Diana: Cool, amazing. So cool. And first of all, the Freelancing Females newsletter is epic. Truly, it's one of my favorites to get and I don't love newsletters. Second of all, the design is fabulous. And as a designer, that's part of one of the reasons I love it, because it's so well designed. So I, you know, $10,000 aside in the trash, I'm glad that it ended up the way that it did, because it's beautiful. You mentioned the differences for women specifically in the freelance world. Can you touch on what that means? Like, what kind of differences are happening for women, freelancers?
Tia: Yeah, so five years ago, when I started looking into Facebook groups and looking for resources for myself, I started to see that in the male and female groups, people were a little bit harsher, they were a little bit more cheap on what they were selling their products for. And women didn't feel as comfortable posting about, you know, what can I charge or the true rawness of their questions that we really received through the community.
And throughout the years, we've had some incredible stories of women who are facing different types of struggles, such as sexual abuse, and they're looking for some cash funds to get themselves out of a rut so that they could leave those relationships or single moms or, you know, a student with larger loans.
We just have a lot of really wonderful stories who have come through the community. And I knew that freelance women were paid about 40% less when I started Freelancing Females and we wanted to have a world in the freelance community where our women could grow stronger and get paid what they were worth, and raise their rates and have a resource that they could come to and be really raw about exactly what their questions were. And that's why we decided to, you know, just make it a community for women.
Diana: Yeah, I love that. I am such an advocate for talking about rates and money. And when I was at timing, I've told the story on the podcast before but I was negotiating a raise, and I couldn't first of all, couldn't get one. They told me I was just lucky to like, not be laid off with the rest of the crew. And no one would tell me what they were making. So I had no idea what to even put out there as a number, right? And that was part of the reason why when I became a photographer, and especially a business coach talking about rates, and I know rates have been a huge part of Freelancing Females and sharing each other's rates and even having like your rate sheet.
Can you kind of touch on that and what that means to you? And why obviously, you know, we want to, the rising tide lifts all ships, and we want to not have the 40% gap, of course, but what have you seen? What are the positives that have come out of sharing that stuff that you've seen to be transparent and not so taboo with the money thing?
Tia: So many things. So when I first started, really the biggest platforms for freelancers were Fiverr. And those types of websites and by the way, are freelancers and you're hiring us because our talents are very specific and very niche down and we worked very hard to educate ourselves and learn those talents. And once I went freelance, I learned so much more than I did in a typical nine to five because I wasn't within a box of what I had to be doing.
Right? You know how to typical nine to five job and that was my specific job, but where was the learning from that where it was the mistakes that you learned from where it was, you know, as a freelancer, you have so many hats and you have to be your own lawyer, your consultant, your or salesperson, et cetera. I'd say freelancers have a lot to give. And I do not want that to go to waste.
So when I first started, we decided that what to charge was going to be one of our very specific questions within the Facebook group. And we encourage people to talk about it, because if somebody is charging, you know, $15 an hour versus somebody who's charging $50 an hour, and we can get them to raise their rates, then it'll intentionally start raising everybody's rates, because employers will come to other women and realize that they're not just going to get the cheapest rate out there anymore. And so we started fighting against what the Fiverrs are.
I think it has changed a lot. We've had so many women come to us and say, I've raised my rates three times, and I'm able to take on less clients and live more of my life, or I've been able to get myself out of die, or I've I mean, there's incredible stories, but it doesn't happen unless there's change with it. And many people and I'd say, you know, now that we've been able to reach hundreds of 1000s of women there has been changed in the past five years.
Diana: That's just like, I could cry. It's so beautiful. And so part of like, our mission is just aligned so much. And yeah, I think what you said, the way you explained how a freelancer is so valuable, or an entrepreneur is so valuable, they are is so important, because we do kind of look at it as like the throwaways, right? Unfortunately, like the societies just go like, okay, they're just bumming it, they're not working for anyone, they just want to have freedom and they're willing to take on $5 projects, to just like, be able to ski in Colorado, you know, and live wherever, whatever, right? And it's like, no.
These people are the ones who are actually taking initiative, taking the leaps to go out on their own to actually learn the skill set to be the accountant and the invoice or, and the customer manager and the HR and the actual artists all at the same time. So I think that's just really key is that we also as an audience, even if you're not a freelancer, we need to start raising our own standards of how we will pay people and not negotiate them down, like pay their rates and respect to them.
Tia: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Beautiful. So we've learned a lot through many discussions about Freelancing Females.
Diana: Yeah. Oh, I love it so much. Okay, digging into more of your story specifically, who was Tia as like a little girl? In a nutshell?
Tia: I was an only child who lived in Connecticut, which I loved on the map border, so kind of middle of nowhere. And I grew up right across the street from my grandparents who were a plumber and I had a really close relationship with my family growing up and grew up riding tractors and helping my gramp and the garden and I had an Italian mom, who was an amazing cook, and she was a freelance paralegal. And I was always the one who is like, taking my books around with me and truly loved singing. That was one of my favorite things. And I did dance. So I guess a lot of solo activity. Yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. And I guess they really, truly loved like, leading the pack in the neighborhood of kids. So
Diana: I would say, okay, yeah. So the solo leader, like this mysterious solo leader, kind of, like you weren't, you weren't really solo, but you're independent. And like sufficient.
Tia: I was very independent at my age, especially growing up with mostly adults around I'd say.
Diana: Right. Do you think that has transferred obviously, the leader of the pack is transferred, but do you think things have transferred from being that little girl to now?
Tia: Yeah, I definitely would say that it helped shaped me to who I was and give me the ability to kind of go out on my own because I had a really great support system growing up who always encouraged that even if I made mistakes, and I was really thankful for that. I was a good student. I wasn't an amazing student, but I got honors. I didn't get high honors because I wanted to live my life and enjoy it also. Oh, yeah.
I think that's one thing that I really work on today, too, is making sure that what I'm doing and what I'm working towards is allowing me to have the life that I want to live. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, all these small steps shape you into who you are. And sometimes it doesn't seem like it. But even the mistakes definitely help that.
Diana: Yeah, I think that's so powerful, just like the permission to make mistakes, right? And having that some of you might be listening and going, I didn't have that I had really harsh parents, or I didn't have parents or I had a shitty situation. But we also have to be that for ourselves, right? Yes, we have to be the one who gives us ourselves permission to make mistakes. And sometimes it's easier because we grew up with that. And we got that training early.
But even if we didn't, it's so important, especially as entrepreneurs or freelancers, to give that permission to ourselves. So beautiful. So then we grow up, we go to high school, and we go to college. How did you decide what to go to college for? Did you have like, a grandiose idea at that time? Was there any inkling looking back? Oh, would have your own company like this?
Tia: Hell no. I wouldn't say and I was actually thinking this today, because I was just at a coffee shop by UT how much more opportunity and how much access kids today have in college. And when I first went to college, I went to college for music education, I did not think that I would be doing this at all. And I changed my major over to PR. I transferred schools. And then I left college with a PR and marketing degree. And I thought I'd be in corporate communications for years.
The first thing that I did was I went back to JetBlue — corporate. I had previously interned in college with them in their marketing department, and I took a job doing event planning with them in their corporate department. So think conferences, big fancy dinners, a new location opening. And I absolutely loved it. And I think that was one place where I started to see connection and community and camaraderie. And the corporate setting just wasn't for me.
And I was recruited by a tech startup after that called 53. And they had an app called Pencil or an app called Paper, and a stylus called Pencil. And I went to them to work through social media community and partnership.
Diana: Okay, we’re seeing the thread here.
Tia: You're seeing the thread. And I fell in love with community, I was working with an artists community, we had 25 million downloads on the iPad, every day I was working through like community support questions and social media and everything else. And I loved every moment of it. And then I'd say we were about two years in and I got laid off with about 60% of the company. Because a competitor came out to our product. Very, very large competitor that you might have the same computer as.
Diana: So we won't mention names. Yeah.
Tia: And I called my parents crying because I had a studio apartment in New York with a very high rent, and I truly did not know what was next for me. And I was like, Okay, I'm gonna give myself to the end of my lease and see how it goes. And I started reaching out to my contacts that I had created over the years through the community and everything else. I had a wonderful woman, Samantha Dion Baker, who reached out to me asking for some help on her social media channels. I thought to myself, well, I had a couple bad experiences with agency life in between that, but after those bad experiences, I said, “Why am I not making the money for myself, instead of the founder of this agency?” I could do exactly the same thing that I'm doing: take the contacts, make my own clients and all of that money could be mine. I can run it however I want to.
I had a pretty terrible experience with a founder of one of those agencies and after he yelled at another coworker of mine I just was like, “That's it. I'm not going to be doing this for someone else.” Wo I would say getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me. It might not look at it at the time or, but it gives you space to kind of take a step back and look at what you truly want to be doing. In between that time I experimented, I knew that I loved hospitality. I love food. I love talking to chefs. I love being the person that's sitting at the bar. I worked on a lot of hospitality clients, and that gave me the room to kind of experiment into “What do I like doing?” and offering a lot of different services that I finally niched down into social media consulting before I created Freelancing Females.
Diana: I love that. And I love just like, the idea of. First of all, as most everyone knows, on this podcast, hopefully by now that I was laid off as well, and it was the best day of my life. I called my mom and I was like, “Listen, I have news. And it sounds like bad news but I'm actually really excited” It was a little bit different because you were like, in a panic when it happened. I was like, let's fucking go. I'm out of here. But I still had no idea what I was going to do. And no idea that I would start my business at 27. I thought maybe like, 40, you know.
I would love for you to give any advice, because I think it's so important to be able to step back and have that space and not that you have to get laid off to do it. But just thinking for the people who are just starting out and not sure. Even like what side hustle to start it, they just know corporates not aligned, it's not working, because I didn't know where I was going either. When I was in the middle of corporate, I was like, we'll see I have no clue. Maybe I'll work at Well and Good or something like that.
But starting to say, I love hospitality, I love talking to the chefs like, I love food, and I love experiencing and really keeping track of those things. So that you can start to shape, your brain can kind of go, ooh, we like this thing, go down that path. Do you have advice as far as people just starting out like that?
Tia: Yeah, I would say the one beauty about freelancing that I've learned is that there are jobs that you don't even know what's out there, you could pretty much freelance in anything. And when you go to college, you have these certain degrees that you can get, freelancing gives you the ability to go beyond those bounds. And when I first started freelancing, I did ask those questions. I asked, “What do I truly love, but also what am I good at?” because we're not always good at the things that we love. And I wasn't gonna go become like an orchestra creator or something. So that's kind of how I wound up with doing social media for hospitality clients. And at the time, when I was freelancing, I allowed myself to kind of be open to other opportunities, whether that was a client or the services that I was offering.
So I offered, you know, I could help you create your Squarespace website. I could also help you take some photos of the images that you're going to be posting to social media. And that kind of got me through not only the experiences that I needed, but also what I really love doing and what I became really good at. And it wasn't until I was hired to do a social media strategy, that I had no idea what I was doing either when I said I would do a social media strategy that became my bread and butter product.
It was one off, I charge tens of thousands of dollars for it for different companies. I will not say that my first strategy I ever did was great, but I refined it as I went along. That was the one true product that was able to give me the opportunity to gain so much income as a freelancer. You never know.
Diana: Yeah, and also just the idea too. I think some people think they have to go for their dream situation right away. Right. And even with photography, that was what felt good to me at the time, but I did have graphic design freelance gigs happening underneath the surface that I wasn't really talking about to float me through that. So it's like, you don't have to just go. I'm just leaping into Freelancing Females full time, I've no idea how it's gonna make money, and let's see what happens. It's like you can have these other things that you're good at that you make money to float the other thing and it can take over.
Tia: Exactly. And you know, some of us do have the ability, that we're at a nine to five, and then we saved up enough money to kind of start experimenting on the side. And then when we're ready, we can take the leap. But others, you know, we might be thrown into it. And I just say like, give yourself grace and time.
Diana: Definitely. Yeah, so good. So where is Freelancing Females headed? We kind of got some sneak peeks way earlier here, but like, where are we headed with Freelancing Females?
Tia: I know. So I would say the community of freelancers is very different. We've gone through a whole pandemic. So many more of us are working from home. And I had a team member who had been on the team for about four years who just went to a full time job. And that was the time that I needed to take a step back and start questioning, where are we today? What do freelancers need today, and you know, five years in our community today is stronger than ever. It's the largest of its kind in the world. And I'm so proud to have created a communal space that, you know, we couldn't find in the freelancing world before. Yeah.
But wow, our community has grown bigger and stronger from here. And we started listening to our stories of our members, we realized that changes need to be made to live our mission more fully. So our next endeavor over the next year is to become the place for freelancers at any point in their journey to access resources to nurture themselves as both individuals and a business because it is so important, as a freelancer that you're not only thinking about the business side, but you're also thinking about the personal side.
We're going to be focusing a lot more on mentorship and self care, in addition to the community that we've created as essential components to the success of a freelancer and we have some really exciting things coming down the line. We had started a podcast last year, and we're going to be launching season two. And another area that we're going to be launching is the freelance shop, which will be templates, contracts, everything that you kind of need to work on your freelance business. Amazing. make your l