• Advice

No freelancer is an island! Why you need a professional network

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

My freelance writing business began in full force on the luckiest day of the year: March 17,2017.I had a year’s worth of savings, a client that assured me enough work to cover the equivalent of a quarter of my take-home pay, and spousal healthcare coverage.

Cut to the first Monday. Still giddy with all that flexibility, I opened an email from my one and only client. It read, “Sorry! Our budget was slashed and we have to let you go! We loved working with you, though!”

You can imagine the freakout that followed.

Years later, I know that to succeed as solo writers-for-hire, we need to mix and mingle to our collective competitive advantage. Here's why you need a network.

Professional backup

Together, we will always have work. Commissions for referrals are a great way to support other freelancers and to ensure future referrals. I have paid a commission to another freelancer who referred me to a successful job. I encourage other writers to do the same.

A freelancer’s network is an asset to their clients. We cannot and should not do it all. Clients deserve the best service, and when writers can refer out they are providing added value to clients.

Community encouragement

Now that I am a part of the gig economy I am responsible to my business purpose as written: do the most good for the most people. How can one person do that much from a home office?

Most freelance writers spend their days physically alone, having given up the the esprit de corps of office life. But human beings are social by nature. We derive meaning, purpose, and joy from living, working and playing together.

As writers, we need the communion of others while working. When I write next to another freelancer, we may not be making something together — but we are making it side-by-side.

No freelancer is an island

An important differential between contract and salaried worker is this: freelancers are able to develop broader networks with deeper expertise than our salaried counterparts. Freelancers work alone but when needed, are able to tap their network to advise, consult and solve problems effectively. All served by one.

As more and more people these days choose the gig economy over salaried work, we must remember that we are a collective.

Laura Kim LLC provides writing solutions and fundraising expertise from her home office just outside Portland, Oregon.