Salary Story: By Going Freelance I Doubled My Salary To 80k

Illustrated by Madeleine Martinez.
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. Published stories receive £100.
Age: 31
Location: Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire
Current industry and job title: Public Relations, Freelance PR Manager
Current salary: Up to £80,000
Number of years employed since school or university: Nine
Starting salary: £18,000 in 2012
Biggest salary jump: £51,000 in 2020 to £80,000 in 2021
Biggest salary drop: £33,000 to £39,000 in 2017. Although not a drop technically, moving from a full-time job into freelance work impacted me materially, with no pension, paid holiday or sick leave.
Biggest negotiation regret: I wish that early on in my career I had known my worth. Now that I'm a freelancer and responsible for setting my own rates, I recognise a lot of the early missteps I made when I listened to older people in my field, who had a vested interest in keeping me feeling grateful for the small wages I was earning in return for bad treatment and a poor work/life balance. It's far easier to secure a wage you're happy with when you join a new business than it is to negotiate afterwards so always, always open negotiations from a higher position than you'd be happy to accept.
Best salary advice: Think about what you value in a job package – do you mainly care about the salary or do you really value the pension, private healthcare, paid sabbatical or any other perks? If you don't mind a bit of risk, consider becoming a freelancer. Yes, the risk is increased – there's no paid sick leave or holiday pay – but your day rate is higher to compensate for that and you have the added benefit of freedom to work for whoever you want. As a freelancer I'm my own boss, so I give myself a lot of promotions! I also only work for and with people whose values genuinely align with my own.