• Advice

Grow your network, grow your business

By Ciera Chapman
Ciera Chapman is a freelance editor and writer. She's been working as a professional writer for nearly a decade and has been a founding partner and senior copywriter of a design firm or three. A wife and mother, dreamer and doer. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter!

Freelancing tends to be as lonely as it is liberating. You're a one-person show, and you're doing your best to keep that from showing. Your job consumes most of your life, but it's your choice on how, when, and where it all happens.

That's the freedom you wanted, right? That's why you ditched the nine-to-five and jumped head-first into working for yourself. You just didn't expect to be so alone so often. As much as I love my alone time, it can be a drag to have to rely on just one person (myself) for all the work that goes into my business.

The solution? Collaboration, connection, and communication. Staying in touch with your industry peers and reaching out to freelancers in other industries are both essential to staying afloat in your own career. The people who succeed the most at being their own boss not only seek out other freelancers, they collaborate rather than compete.

Many of us were drawn to the Freelancers Union in the first place by a need to have a united community of like-minded professionals. Membership in Freelancers Union obviously has other appeals such as benefits and resources, but now that they’ve launched Hives, our ability to interact with other freelancers has broadened in the best way possible.

There are lots of new features and upgrades being made to the Hives community every day, but let's talk about what you can do to make the most of joining a Hive (or several) now so that it directly benefits you and your work.

  1. Consider your Freelancers Union profile to be your business card in the world of Hives. Keep it updated, fresh, and interesting. Your peers are the internal customers who can help expand your external customer base. Their opinion of you is important, too.

  2. If you can't find a Hive that addresses a need you have, create a new one that does! If you are a Hive leader, be willing to pour some extra time and attention into that Hive. Get to know all the Hive members, and be as involved with all of the conversations happening as you can. Add other Hive leaders to share the load as needed.

  3. Be an active and proactive Hive participant. Try to check in on your Hives at least once a week. Subscribe to the weekly Hive digest emails. Comment on the Hive conversation threads that interest you or that you feel you can add something to. Read the profiles of other Hive members and explore their portfolios. Arrange to meet up with other freelancers in your area. Ask for help in finding new projects or in getting introductions to freelancers in another industry. Find ways to pay it forward by sharing what talents and resources you can for free (without selling yourself short).

  4. Do more than have conversations in the Hive - share video tutorials, inspiring quotes, royalty-free stock images, information for industry events, reference documents, job postings, and so on. The more Hive members share what they've got, the more everyone in the Hive benefits and succeeds.

  5. Be open minded. Be open to learning from other freelancers, even if they haven't been working on their own or in the industry for as long as you have. Be open to collaborating on projects with other freelancers whenever possible, whether they share your job title or whether they work in another field that complements yours. Be open to different work methodologies than yours. Be open to sending contracts you can't take on to other freelancers who need the work. What goes around comes around.

  6. Give feedback to Freelancers Union on ways they can improve the way Hives work.

Is there anything I forgot? Comment below with your ideas on how to make Hives thrive!

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