Alexandra Fasulo writes of freelancing her way to freedom

— Photo from Freelance Fairytales

Alexandra Fasulo used a laptop — no corporate office needed — to build a lucrative career.

 

Alexandra Fasulo last month published her first book and calls it “my favorite thing I’ve ever done.”

She has done a lot while still in her 20s.

She owns the weekly gig economy newsletter, the Forum, as well as Fortuna Forum, a suite of online financial resources; she is a CNBC contributor; and she hosts the Freelance Fairytales podcast. She says she has over 900,000 followers across social media.

Fasulo describes her book, “Freelance Your Way to Freedom: How to Free Yourself From the Corporate World and Build the Life of Your Dreams,” published by John Wyle & Sons, as “a generic freelancing Bible.”

She had such fun writing the book, she says she has a running list of 20 other titles ready to go right now. Ten of them are business topics, including side hustles, freelancing, the business of want, and virtual assistants.

She also loves philosophy and writing poetry and, noting there are many books about dogs, wants to write about her Siamese cat who was her constant companion for 20-and-a-half years but died last summer.

Fasulo spoke to The Enterprise from the United Kingdom, where she is traveling through England and Scotland, which has inspired her to want to write fiction or fantasies, Fasulo said.

She grew up in Altamont, went to Voorheesville’s Clayton A. Bouton High School, and graduated from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.

She dedicated her book to her “momager,” a term she coined for her entrepreneurial mother, Lisa Fasulo, who owned a tattoo school that was featured in a reality television show by that name.

“My sister and I, we were definitely very heavily influenced by my mom and her entrepreneurial spirit, and she’s definitely a serial entrepreneur,” said Fasulo.

After Alexandra’s father, Michael Fasulo died in 2017, at age 55,  Lisa Fasulo and her daughters, Allegra and Alexandra, opened Michelangelo’s Paint Place in Guilderland.

“We were just kind of reaching in the dark …. It was very shocking for my whole family,” Fasulo said of her father’s death.

Her family opened the store to do something hands-on with other people, she said. After a catastrophic loss, it can be hard to reintegrate into society, Fasulo said.

“When people say something to you, you don’t even know what to say back to them,” she said. “So we felt that was like a bridge … to getting life back to normal and to just paint and be with people.”

She describes her family “all the way back” as “like a crazy art cyclone.”

Her paternal grandmother, Marijo Dougherty, whom she called Nana, was a printmaker and curator at the University at Albany Art Gallery and late in life was a caretaker of historic artifacts for Altamont, teaching villagers about their history.

“A lot of the things that I now believe were shaped by her …,” said Fasulo. “She was the original feminist in my life when I didn’t even know what that meant.”

Fasulo can remember when she was as young as 8, her Nana telling her, “Don’t be afraid to take up space … Don’t be timid. Don’t feel you need to take a step back just because you’re a woman.”

Fasulo went on, “When I was young, at first, I was like, ‘Whoa, Nana, chill.’ But, as Fasulo got older, she understood the importance of her grandmother’s view. 

Doughtery, who lived on Maple Avenue, “had a dragon sculpture coming in and out of the earth; she had a colored pencil fence; she had the craziest art you’ve ever seen …,” said Fasulo. “Drawing art was the centerpiece of her life and everything we did with her.”

Fasulo’s maternal grandmother, who lived in Albany, was an artist, too — a graphic designer and a fashion designer. “My aunt designed her own clothing line,” said Fasulo.

Lisa Fasulo, as a tattoo artist, also had a keen sense of business. Her grandfather, Alexandra’s great-grandfather, had an electrical-supply company that he kept afloat during the Great Depression, which later prospered. Lisa Fasulo kept her grandfather’s bookkeeping ledgers — with profits written in black and losses in red — to show her daughters, teaching them he survived through hard times.

Lisa Fasulo attributed her own success to lack of fear.

Alexandra Fasulo said her mother’s family was of German descent and her mother gave her and her sister the message: “Times might appear tough now … but the best is yet to come, rub some dirt on it …. like, you’re OK; keep going.”

She concluded, “I was actually very grateful for having that instilled in me when I needed it.”

Her book’s dedication, in its entirety, reads: “To my momager, who has played both mom and dad to my sister and me — thanks for teaching me to rub some dirt on it, get back up, and go out there and crush my dreams.”

Fasulo writes in her book that, after her years at college and two different office jobs “that groomed employees for a life of servitude, I slid right into the belief that I had to suffer in the name of responsibility as an adult, as if suffering was a normal exchange everyone had to engage in if they wanted  to own a house, a car, and pay off their debt.”

By her own account, Fasulo was crying on her keyboard as she worked at a public relations firm in New York City; she quit her job with no plan and no savings. 

She started working as a freelance writer, getting gigs through Fiverr, a global online marketplace for services and, through diligent work, began earning many times her former office salary.

“I declared myself financially free when I earned my millionth dollar on Fiverr,” Fasulo writes in her book. She was 27 with plans to invest in real estate as well as having six “side hustles.”

“If I were to stop working and do nothing starting today,” Fasulo writes, “my freelance writing agency which is now entirely managed by my best friend and virtual assistants, e-book sales, course sales, YouTube ad revenue, website ad revenue, investment property revenue, and TikTok Instagram Reels revenue, would comfortably support me for the rest of my life. I do not have to work another day if I do not want to.”

Her book, Fasulo says, is not about getting rich quick, although she has, but rather is “about laying the foundation in the remote-work economy that will help you achieve financial independence.”

Her growing online presence has engendered not only praise and admiration but also criticism and hatred. In her book, she acknowledges “online haters,” whom she thanks for her “fiery, determined, and passionate work ethic.” She writes, “Without your constant insults and accusations, I wouldn’t be half of the force I am today.”

At first, Fasulo said, she was not prepared for the hatred. “I was upset by it. I would lash out at people, back at them online. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing with this kind of random, out-of-nowhere hate.”

She then read mindset and spirituality books and came to believe that the haters had their own problems. “There’s nothing to actually do with you,” she said of being targeted online, “and there’s something very freeing about it; truly understanding that has taken a couple of years … So now, when I see the hate comments, I just let it go, and go on my merry way.”

Much of the nastiness is misogynistic, aimed at Fasulo as a woman.

Originally, she saw herself as a “genderless entity,” she said. “All of this has made me concerned with sex … It’s been weaponized against me so much, it’s made me passionate about other women getting into business because I really had no idea how horrible it is out there.

“It’s tough out there if you’re a woman, especially a young woman … It’s really toxic.”

So Fasulo has become a champion for other women who are following her. She particularly likes helping young, single mothers who “can’t go 9 to 5 so they don’t know how to pay their bills.” Once they learn how to freelance from home, said Fasulo, they are set free.

“I think obviously the world benefits when everybody feels they can join in on the fun,” she said.

Although Fasulo said she’s aware that there should be a “target market” for her book, she thinks almost everyone could benefit from it.

She said “Freelance Your Way to Freedom” is useful for people who hate their jobs and want to strike out on their own, or for people who love their jobs and want to make some money on the side.

“So far, 18-year-old students in high school … to people in their seventies have read this book,” Fasulo said, “and I have had all of them tell me there is something in it that is helpful.”

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