The life of a freelancer can be lonely; the freedom to create and build your own destiny is empowering and thrilling, but it often comes with bouts of anxiety, isolation and uncertainty. Seeking out support is a critical step in ensuring the success and longevity of any freelancing venture.
The good news is that, while it might feel intimidating, there are other freelancers who have succeeded who can provide invaluable assistance. Having access to a strong, supportive community of freelancers who have experienced the same challenges, rejections and successes can be hugely beneficial in staying motivated, driven and even finding new business contacts.
Finding Support for Freelancers
The first step in seeking support for freelancers is to join an existing community. Doing so will ensure that freelancers are able to exchange information faster, find opportunities more efficiently and benefit from the collective wisdom of those that have gone before.
Where possible, freelancers should look for communities that are either specifically tailored to their niche or their particular area. Social media platforms are increasingly becoming an ideal choice for freelance networks, with freelancers posting opportunities and successes, sharing advice and tips and generally providing valuable peer-support.
Offline networks can also be incredibly useful for freelancers. Professional organizations, such as ‘The Freelancers Union’, hold regular meetings and gatherings that allow freelancers to mix and mingle on more formal terms. Incubator and co-working spaces abound, and accessing events, seminars and other gatherings provided by them can also be hugely beneficial. Whatever the particular connection, freelancers are likely to find that their fellow creative minds provide a great sense of mutual understanding.
Getting access to the right resources is also essential in helping to make a successful start as a freelancer. These could range from the basics, such as where to purchase office supplies on a budget, to managing finances and contracts, or understanding the latest technology trends.
Online resources are particularly helpful for freelancers today. Sites such as Freelancer Week, 99Designs and FreelancerHub are all geared towards helping freelancers make the most of the opportunities available. Similarly, a range of podcasts, blogs and other resources provide curated advice and information for the freelancing community.
In addition to the resources available online, freelancers should also consider attending relevant events and seminars. Seminars such as ‘Future of Work’ and ‘Finding Your Freelance Niche’, amongst others, provide an invaluable opportunity to network, learn and inspire.
Finally, startups, accelerators and other venture-backed initiatives can often provide assistance to freelancers with industry-specific knowledge and advice. Teams such as Techstars and Y Combinator are natural alleys for freelancers to explore, with resources and expertise that can catapult the business to greatness.
Breaking out of the day-to-day grind and staying creative and motivated can be one of the biggest challenges facing freelancers. To stay inspired, freelancers should be open to try and learn new things, both professionally and personally. Whenever there are new trends, freelancers should aim to find out how to adapt, bring new ideas to the table and spot important opportunities.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always necessary to be a solopreneur to be a successful freelancer. Spending time with other creatives, be they just starting out, current freelancers or even entrepreneurs, can help freelancers to gain valuable insights and ideas that can be transferred to their own business. Trusted mentors and peers can also act as a powerful sounding board when freelancers need to make important decisions.
Attending workshops, conferences and other tech-related events is another way to stay inspired; freelancers can source alternative ideas and solutions from their peers, access the latest industry thought-leaders and even discover potential new clients.
Focusing on Growth
Growth through skills-building should be a priority for all freelancers. Staying abreast of the latest trends and technologies, and being prepared for the future, will ensure that a freelancer’s skills are always current and transferable.
By reading industry-related news, articles, blogs and even attending webinars, freelancers can stay on top of the latest developments, learn new techniques and access valuable advice.
Developing and undertaking side projects, exploring different types of work, mentoring job-seekers and taking part in hackathons are all great ways to focus on growth-oriented activities. Getting involved in professional organisations, attending networking events and even taking on pro-bono work can also enable freelancers to discover new business connections and potential vacancies.
Being a successful freelancer requires much more than mastering technical skills. To survive, thrive and make a success of any freelance venture, freelancers need to be proactive in seeking out advice and support from the community, investing in the right resources to help their business grow, and staying inspired to always stay ahead of trends. With the right guidance, ideas and resources, the path to successful freelancing can certainly be smoother and more rewarding for all involved.