I make a point of getting on the phone, going out to lunch, even traveling to see other freelancers. It’s a good business habit to get into and it pays off well. There are a lot of reasons why you should spend your time with other freelancers — doing so is making an investment in your freelance career.
1. Other Freelancers Earn You Money
Landing projects is probably the best reason for a freelancer to do anything. Your fellow freelancers are a great source of projects, for a variety of reasons:
- Clients ask the freelancers they trust for recommendations for help with other types of projects.
- Some freelancers subcontract out parts of the projects they take on.
- Freelancers often refer projects they pass on to other freelancers who are a better fit.
Honestly, it’s not as common as we think for freelancers to compete with one another for projects. Sure, if you and another freelancer do roughly the same thing, you may go head to head on a few proposals. But there are a lot of referrals passed around and a lot of work gets divided between multiple freelancers. Other freelancers can be a major source of income.
2. Other Freelancers Help You Avoid Bad Clients
In business, it’s a good idea to gossip like an old biddy. Whenever I get together with another freelancer, we always compare notes on who we’ve worked with. We talk about what clients are a breeze to work with and who is an absolute nightmare to handle.
I’ve gotten warned off of certain clients who may have offered plenty of money to bring me on, but in reality wouldn’t have been able to pay my invoices. I’m always glad to return that sort of favor.
There’s no official way to find out if someone is going to be a good client to work with. You can’t check one website and find reports from all the freelancers a person has worked with — maintaining such a site would open the owner up to all kinds of legal trouble. So we have to rely on talking to one another to get a picture of what a prospective client is really like. Your fellow freelancers are your best bet.
3. Other Freelancers Can Mentor You
When I first started out freelancing, there was a writer who helped me really get better at writing well and quickly. Without her help, most of my projects would drag on forever and I wouldn’t be particularly cost effective for most clients. Her mentorship was invaluable.
These sorts of relationships are rarely one way: I actually wound up helping that same freelancer with some social media problems because I had more experience in that area. We have an ongoing relationship that is mutually beneficial, even though we’re arguably competition for each other.
4. Other Freelancers Face the Same Problems You Do
We face the same problems, like being able to easily collect unpaid invoices. There are some more localized problems — the health insurance problems U.S. freelancers face aren’t an issue for Canadian freelancers — but having the help of other freelancers is invaluable. Other freelancers are the most likely people to know a workaround to help you accomplish something quickly, like getting health insurance from a professional organization when you can’t afford it on your own.
But having connections to other freelancers can mean a lot more. You can lobby local government to actually change some of the laws that adversely impact freelancers. If you can get enough people together, you can make a difference.
5. Other Freelancers are Your Support System
Sometimes you just need to sit and talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Your other friends and family can be great people, but if they’ve never had to work with a client who throws temper tantrums constantly, they will have a hard time understanding the situation. Having a support system that actually understands the type of problems you’re facing makes life a lot easier.