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Recent years have shaken up the world of work, and there’s never been a better time to try something new. For freelancers and the freelance-curious, nothing sounds better than working for yourself.
Of course, freelancing comes with its pros and cons. You reap great benefits by blazing your own trail of a career, but with risk to your mental health, thanks to feelings of loneliness due to professional isolation.
Don’t worry: it’s possible to freelance and have a fulfilling social and professional life. Freelancer communities have been around for a long time. They give solopreneurs and freelancers a place to commune, seek guidance, and blow off steam. Not to mention that they can be helpful in growing your business.
If you’ve been getting by on your lonesome up until now, we’ve got good news for you. Freelancer communities are as diverse and numbered as the people that build them. In this article, we will help you decide if joining a freelancer community is for you, and point you in the direction of some of the best.
What are freelancer communities?
A freelancer community is a group of individuals who share a common desire and motivation to become and/or maintain a freelancing career. Those in a community will share ideas, collaborate, and support each other in areas such as career development, business building, and work/life balance.
What exactly counts as a ‘community’ is in the eye of the beholder. For many freelancers, this means virtual communities – websites, forums, blogs, and social media accounts all allow for commentary and discussion.
In-person freelancer communities and co-working spaces can also be found in many cities. These allow people to get the face-to-face interactions freelancers may lack in their professional lives, as well as offering a place to work away from your home office.
The purpose of freelance communities
Many freelancers spend the majority of our time working alone. You wake up, have breakfast or a coffee, switch your laptop on, and start working. You finish work in the evening, close your laptop, and go on with your nightly activities. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum. That means much more control over schedules and workloads, but a lot less room for work-based social interactions.
Freelancer communities aim to fill in the social gaps by offering opportunities to meet like-minded individuals. They’re there as an alternative to rolling up in your desk chair to ask for advice.
Of course, it’s not just about the social connections. Members of these communities often offer advice, share resources, and give insightful feedback on each other’s work. People also link up via these communities to collaborate on projects and form partnerships.
Why you should join a freelancer community (or two)
Some people join a freelancer community in hopes of meeting new people. Others may be looking for career guidance and opportunities. The good news is that regardless of your priorities, there are several benefits to becoming part of a professional freelancer community.
Freelancer communities are a great way to connect with others in your industry. They make it easy to find people working in your niche with similar interests. You can share tips and advice, and collaborate on projects. Even just commenting on something like a LinkedIn blog post may introduce you to your next top client.
And if you don’t want quite so much interaction, some communities simply act as a newsletter platform, giving you the best leads on freelance job opportunities.
Career development and education
While degrees and qualifications can teach you a lot, there’s some things you only pick up with real-world experience. Often, professional growth comes from working as a team or from good managers and co-workers.
While freelancers get to choose their bosses as they choose clients, there’s not always much time for career development. With a freelancing community, you can learn a lot from others working in your field. This can be accomplished by one-on-ones, how-to guides, webinars, workshops, and other community elements.
Those who make up a good freelancer community will help you acquire new skills, bestow best practices, and teach new techniques that contribute to your ongoing education. And, once you’ve developed those skills, you can pay the community back by sharing them too!
If you’re just starting out, you’re likely to be stuck on the big question: how do I land my first freelance client? And, for those further into their careers, the question will have developed into ‘where do I find my next one?’
Freelance communities make it easier for you to get started. One way that new gigs can find their way to you is by way of the aforementioned community referrals. Some freelancer communities also have job boards or other resources that can help you find new clients and projects.
Professional and social support
Freelancing allows people to work how, when, and from where they want. Whether that’s living as digital nomads traversing the globe, or simply having a cozy home office set up, this level of freedom is one of the main benefits of the freelancer life. The trade off is that it can be a lonely path.
Although the road is less traveled, freelancers can find much-needed support from online in-person communities. Many groups like Facebook and LinkedIn allow beginners to mix things up with veterans and experts in their respective fields. These spaces offer ample opportunity for meet-ups and finding informal mentorships.
Plenty of freelancer communities also offer channels for finding formal mentorships to help guide you over any obstacles in your independent career. Freelance mentors can guide you from anything to building a resume to finding the best virtual business phone number provider.
Boost your reputation
Joining a freelance community isn’t just all about you and what you stand to gain from it. You need to give back from time to time. As part of a support group, you will be able to reach out and provide sage advice or insightful feedback for one of your peers. Maybe you will spend time mentoring someone new, or providing helpful resources you’ve made.
The best part of all: the more you give, the more you get. Whether adding useful blog posts (like this one) or participating in meetups and workshops, you will be demonstrating your talents. People will view you as a subject matter expert and increasingly ask for your input.
With a reputation as someone experienced and knowledgeable, you can sure bet more opportunities will come your way.
Access to resources
When you join a freelancer group, you will gain access to many free (and sometimes paid) resources. These events and materials can include webinars, training courses, group chats, networking socials, and more. And, as these resources are built by freelancers for freelancers, you can rest assured knowing you are receiving practical knowledge and actionable techniques.
We really could go on and on about the joys of joining a freelancer community, but then we would miss out on the headline of this article!
Types of freelancer communities
Before we get stuck in with specific groups, it’s important to explain the types of freelancer communities available.
- Unions and nonprofit organizations. These communities are run through a combination of funding channels. While providing a community they also work as a lobbyist to improve the conditions of freelancers everywhere (a great example is t the Freelancers Union)
- Professionally run or sponsored organizations. This encompasses any freelancer groups and communities that are organized by a company or an individual. Many offer a wealth of access to resources, communication channels, job boards, and more.
- Websites and forums. Blogs, job boards, and other websites offer freelancers a chance to communicate and arrange informal meetups. Many of these can be found with professional organizations, although some may exist independently.
- Social media groups. You can find freelancer groups on the most relevant social networks. These allow for a more casual experience when it comes to discussing the dos and don’ts of the trade.
Freelancer communities you should join right now
In addition to the benefits for freelancers, joining a freelancer community can also be a great way for employers to connect with talented professionals. If you’re looking to hire frontend developers consider joining a freelancer community to connect with like-minded individuals and potentially find new job opportunities.
Freelancer communities offer a great way to network, develop your career, gain access to resources, and receive social and professional support. Joining a community like Millo, Freelancers Union, The Global Freelance Mastermind, Upwork Community, Fiverr Forum, or Reddit r/freelance can provide you with numerous benefits and help you grow your freelance business.
There are many freelance communities available, catering to a range of different industries and professions. Here are some popular examples:
Just in case this is your first time on this blog, it’s time to highlight the Millo community. Few freelancer groups offer the polished experience that Millo presents. Between a mix of articles, the Freelance to Founder Podcast, a newsletter, social groups, and products, there’s something for everyone.
You can find a load of free resources on just about any freelancing topic your heart desires. The best thing is that any tips, strategies, or advice have been passed down by experts and seasoned veterans of the freelancer lifestyle.
You can also sign up for premium offerings and solutions. One of these, SolidGigs, gives you access to the best freelance jobs that match your skills and experience. These types of tools save you a ton of time and stress when trying to lock down that next gig.
Participating in the Millo community can help you build and grow the freelancing business of your dreams.
As far as we’re concerned, there aren’t many organizations that fit the bill that the Freelancer’s Union does. Established in 1995, this non-profit organization offers resources, advocacy, and community for freelancers.
If you live near New York City, perks include access to in-person meetups with names like “Wellness Wednesday.” However, every member gains access to useful online courses like “Managing Your Business Finances as a Freelancer.”
There is also an extensive knowledge base available to all and plenty of other resources for new and experienced freelancers. You can even seek some one-on-one guidance from customer support that can compare to apps like Aircall.
Depending on what state you live in, Freelancers Union can also hook you up with medical, dental, vision, or other small business benefits packages. With more than 500,000 current members, the organization is working tirelessly to make sure freelancers in the US have “everything they need to do their work on their terms.”
Best of all, you can sign up with the Freelancers Union for free!
The Global Freelance Mastermind
Not many freelance communities possess such a clear-cut purpose as The Global Freelance Mastermind. Featuring both a Facebook Group and LinkedIn Group, this group maintains a private space for freelancers to ask questions and learn from each other.
Once your join request has been approved by the moderators, you can start asking the experts important questions. Even if you are feeling a bit shy, you can scroll through the many questions previously asked. You will likely find someone who has already asked the same question you have. Even better, you will find that someone else has already crafted together the answer you were looking for!
Upwork continues to be one of the largest freelance platforms in the world. For better or worse, nearly every freelancer has spent time creating a profile and browsing jobs on Upwork. While finding well-paying gigs can sometimes feel like looking for life on Mars, many overlook the value of the Upwork community itself.
Between a blog, discussion forums, and community groups, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something you like. For instance, you can easily find a group of freelancers that shares the same profession, locations, and/or values that you do. This makes it easier to find and share advice with “your people.”
At the same time, with a bit of technique (which you can get from your community), gold can be mined from Upwork job postings. Freelancers know that golden clients are like romance partners—you sometimes find them where you least expect.
Speaking of large freelance platforms, you’re probably familiar with the highs and lows of working with Fiverr. Upwork vs Fiverr is a hotly debated topic. You’ve gotta start somewhere and there’s no reason you can’t use both.
Likewise with Upwork, finding suitable gigs on Fiverr may seem like trying to find a needle in the Pacific Ocean. However, with a bit of practice, many decently paying jobs are to be found. You can help streamline the Fiverr experience by spending time with other freelancers in the community. The best place to start is the Fiverr Forum.
From here you browse a wide range of topics including how to “buy” or “sell” on the platform. You can also find answers to common freelance questions as well as webinars and be able to connect with other freelancers and creatives doing the same work as you.
While technically a social media platform, Reddit has done wonders for freelancers in the English-speaking world. You can start with r/freelance where you will find nearly 450,000 members. Here it’s easy to lurk and find out what people are currently discussing and debating.
Of course, if you’re brave enough to risk the karma, you can ask a question, give advice, or simply vent the frustrations of being a freelancer. Best of all, it provides a completely anonymous place to discuss issues with current and potential clients.
Of course, the catch is that you will be receiving completely anonymous advice. Luckily, with the upvoting system, your peers will downvote any bad advice that might tank your freelance career.
Besides r/freelance, there is an undiscovered country of additional and niche freelance subreddits including r/DesignJobs, r/digitalnomad and r/forhire. Start with r/freelance and then dig deeper to find additional communities that fit with your career and values.
Join some freelancer communities
At this point, we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. Use these communities as a starting point for melting away the ice of freelancer isolation. You can also think of them as launching pads at the start of your new and improved freelancer career.
The best part is that the more you get involved, the more you will find. Who knows? Maybe you will meet your next big client just around the corner. Or maybe you will get some much-needed inspiration for career development.
With the support of the freelancer community, you are well-equipped to build the business you’ve always wanted!
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