How freelancers are pooling their time, resources, and skills to build better communities

Jan 21, 2015

As a freelancer it can be all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and find yourself strapped for cash and time.

One way you can alleviate some of this stress is by collaborating and sharing with other freelancers, creating a bartering system where you exchange goods and services without exchanging any money. It’s a great way to save on funds and build a community.

Here are a few ways to share the love of sharing with your network of freelance buddies:

Build a Virtual Library

Have some great books that you would like to lend? With most ebooks you can loan them out for a short period of time. You can log which books are available and a checkout system by creating a basic spreadsheet on a shared Google excel sheet.

The books can be on any subject matter that might be useful to the members of your group—books on art, design, photography, writing, tech, or on the freelance life. You can also create a shared doc of home office supplies and other helpful wares that can be used among your group.

Host a Swap

Have stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of? You know what they say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So bring out that printer that’s been stowed away in your closet or stack of unwanted books and organize a swap. Maybe you can turn it into a fun potluck. Any unwanted items can be donated to a local charity.

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Create a Time Bank

Need help with designing a header image for your website? Have access to a meeting room that you’re willing to share? Try creating a time bank with friends or local freelancers, where you exchange hours instead of money. You can create a bulletin board of sorts through a group on Facebook and Google + to post “ads,” services you would like to offer and receive from fellow members. Just be sure to include an expiration date for each ad, or else you might receive emails two years after you post something!

You can choose to offer whatever services you want, and if there’s certain professional services you prefer not to offer within the time bank, that’s perfectly okay. A time bank is also a great way to gain some practice in a skill that you’re brushing up on and also to enlist help on an ongoing project. As most time banks have an online system to keep track of exchanges and time each member has in their “bank,” you can devise a clever way of tracking time you’ve earned by using time tracker software such as Toggl, Fanurio, or informally through email.

Host a Co-Working Session

Trying to stave off a case of the freelancer’s loner blues? Hosting a co-working session at your place or plan to meet up at a local coffee shop. To prevent it from becoming partytime, you can can use a digital productivity timer such as the free Focus Booster to do timed group sessions.

Organize a Workshop

Besides attending an After Hours mixer, organizing a workshop to discuss specific topics or share expertise is a great way to stay relevant and receive support in your group. Another good place to find people in your area to participate is through a location-focused Hive. You can also do a meetup via Skype or Google Hangout if your buddies don’t all live in the same vicinity.

Collaborating and pooling resources and skills with your freelancer pals is a fun way to share what you have and stay connected. You might also discover new ways of supporting one another and staying productive and inspired.

Freelancers, how have you collaborated with your friends and local community to share resources? Got any tips on how to start building a sharing community in your own city? Let us know in the comments!

Jackie Lam once scored a wood-burning pencil at a time bank swap. It is probably one of the best things she owns. She writes on frugal living in the gig economy at