It doesn’t matter what your profession is. You may be a creative freelancer or an IT contractor, but you will share a common bond with anyone who works independently.
If you are nervous about leaving behind your friends, team and the perks of corporate life then be reassured that you’ll be coming into the huge, welcoming hug of a freelance family.
Spend any time with other freelancers and you’ll be astonished at the generosity, the time and the resources that other, relative strangers, will offer you.
Here are 10 ways the freelance family makes you realize how work should be.
1. We look out for each other
This simple truth is what made me realize that I would be OK, when I went freelance. The first few months of freelancing can be very scary. You feel as if you are adrift from your normal moorings and that no one is looking out for you.
Well we are. Everyone feels like this when they first start working for themselves and so we identify with that feeling. Don’t be surprised if another freelancer suggests a coffee for no apparent reason. It’ll simply be because they want you to feel you’re not alone.
2. We share knowledge
Freelancers are incredibly generous with their expertise and skills. We can’t all be good at everything, so teaming up with another freelancer to complete the circle is sensible. We see a lot of collaborations between freelancers with different skill sets, whether it’s to help launch a new business or team up on a client proposal.
3. We share resources
Likewise, why go to the effort of developing or buying the things you need to run your business when someone else might already have cracked the problem or have spare stuff that you can use. For example, desk-sharing sites like the wonderful Desk Camping – where small businesses have occasional spare desks that you can use in exchange for your skills. Or you can join one of our co-working groups where people share skills all the time.
4. We share a sense of humour about work
The wonderful thing about families is having a shared sense of humour. Freelancers often share a strong sense of fun and humour, particularly about their experiences back in ‘proper jobs’. We know how to poke fun at ourselves too – and you’ll find a group of freelancers are less rigid and more informal than some other professional groups.
5. We tend to have balance in our lives
Freelancers are generally quite good at knowing what’s important in their lives. They don’t understand the concept of work life balance, because they lead lives that include work as part of the mix.
That doesn’t mean that they are lazy (on the contrary, freelancers often work ridiculously long hours when the work is there), but they will often juggle their day to make room for their real family and friends, or to stay healthy, or give themselves time to open up to creativity.
6. We pay it forward
If you haven’t heard this expression, pay it forward is simply giving something without getting an immediate return. The idea that people are prepared to give up time, money or resources without getting paid or recompensed in any way is what underpins the freelance economy and what makes it such a wonderful family to be part of.
You do occasionally find that some people misinterpret this generosity for ‘getting things for free’. That isn’t what freelance means, and the important thing to remember here is that we are all in this together.
7. We are interested in your story
Freelancers often have portfolio careers and lives. Which makes for many interesting conversations as people often balance the ying and the yang in their lives by doing completely different things. Have you heard about the freelance lawyer who is a farmer or the personal trainer who writes crime fiction?
So a conversation with a freelancer can make for a fascinating hour or two and it will throw light on the reality of motivation and how people end up doing what they love.
8. We help solve your problems
This isn’t to suggest that you need to become a therapist, but simply that freelancers are natural problem solvers. Its kind of what we do. Why try and solve it yourself when it’s likely that another freelancer has worked it out already?
This obviously works on a practical basis, but don’t forget that we all suffer from the same feelings of isolation and occasional lack of confidence or motivation too. You’ll get tons of empathy from another freelancer, I can guarantee it.
9. We help find you work
This is another extraordinary and magic thing about the way the freelance family works. It’s counter-intuitive, but actually most freelancers are interested in your success, regardless if you are in competition for the same kinds of work. In fact, new clients are often found through other freelancers who have either recommended you because you have a complementary skill set or because the job is too big for one person.
10. We don’t judge you
Most of us get it wrong at some point in our freelance career. We find it hard to admit that it isn’t all going well all of the time. In the freelance family, we understand that and our starting assumption isn’t that you aren’t any good at your job, but that you are struggling. So we’ll offer to help.
Convinced? We’d love to hear your freelance experiences? Why not share them in the comments below.