16 Ways freelancers can help one another

Apr 17, 2014

When Sara Horowitz was misclassified as an independent contractor twenty years ago, she decided to band together with other misclassified workers to start a Union with the belief that when freelancers help one another, we’re all stronger.

Today, the same principle holds true. When freelancers connect and help one another, our lives and our businesses improve. That’s why Freelancers Union exists!

Here are 16 things you can do to help a fellow freelancer:

1. Change your mindset. The first thing you can do -- which is the foundation of all the other things in this list -- is get out of a competitive mindset that prevents you from interacting with other freelancers and sharing your experience with them. More connections = more gigs, solidarity, sharing experiences, more referrals, etc.

**2. Have too much work? **Refer your client to another freelancer in your field. This kind of thing comes back to you -- the more you refer, the more that other freelancer will want to return the favor when they’re busy!

3. Share how much you get paid. Some people are too nervous to talk about money, but I think sharing price ranges is crucial to prevent the “race to the bottom” in many freelance fields. If new freelancers try to price in the dark, they tend to price low, and this pushes the market’s rates down.

4. Write blog posts or start a podcast to talk about what you’re learning. Share your experience freelancing with other people in your field. Let other freelancers know what to do in certain situations that you’ve confronted. (This is also a great way to increase the size of your network.)

5. Buy local. Support local small businesses and farmers. As we explain here, supporting local businesses helps all non-traditional workers and builds healthy, prosperous communities.

6. Start a cooperative business or partnership. A fellow freelancer who understands the challenges of running a business can make a great business partner. Great things can happen when a graphic designer and programmer team up, or a writer and publicist. Plus, freelancers and coops are a match made in heaven.

7. Follow freelancers on social media. Retweets and shares are a great way to support the marketing efforts of other freelancers.

8. Congratulate fellow freelancers on product launches or successful projects. A quick email of encouragement or @mention means a lot to a freelancer who depends on social shares to reach new clients.

9. Mentor a new freelancer. Remember how challenging it was to get set up and find clients in the beginning? You don’t have to start a formal mentoring relationship; next time you go to a networking event, give your email address to a new freelancer and let them know they can reach out to you if they ever have questions.

10. Hire a freelancer to do work for your business. Rather than using a big company for your business cards or website, hire a freelance graphic designer or developer. Rather than using Turbotax, hire a freelance CPA. In both cases, your extra investment will really pay off.

11. Subcontract. If you’ve got more work than you can handle, consider subcontracting the work yourself. Many new freelancers start off subcontracting for other freelancers, and you can act both as a contractor and a mentor.

12. Go to an art opening or art show. Chances are your local community space, library, or coffee shop hosts the work of independent artists. Stay in touch with what’s happening and support local art by attending these events.

13. Volunteer for an organization that supports workers. The “Make a Difference” section of our Quiet Revolutionary map is filled with organizations that support workers, small businesses, and sustainable, creative communities.

14. Buy a freelancers merchandise, prints, etc. Many freelance artists, graphic designers, and illustrators make t-shirts, mugs, and prints of their work. Check out some independent artists who sell t-shirts here.

15. Set up your office in a co-working space. Many co-working spaces are founded by other small business owners and creatives who understand how important it is to connect. Working in a co-working space allows you to meet other freelancers regularly, which will help you do all the things on this list. Find co-working spaces in your neighborhood on our Quiet Revolutionary map under “Connect with Freelancers.”

16. Join Freelancers Union. Because hundreds of thousands of freelancers have banded together, we’re able to do big things that help all freelancers. Ask your friends to join us now.

Have you helped or been helped by a freelancer? Share your experiences!