I did a freelancer good deed the other day.
I was offered some work that there was no way I had the time to do justice to, so I passed it on to another freelancer.
If you had told me four months ago I would ever be the position to do that I would have laughed in your face. Not in a mean way, just because I wouldn’t have believed you.
Turning work away? Surely not!
Giving work to a potential rival? NO WAY.
But I’m fast discovering that the freelance community is generally really supportive of each other.
It was a concern of mine before I started out.
I have always loved being part of a journalist team. I love it when you have a team all pulling in the same direction to make something happen, whether that’s getting a really great story out there, campaigning for change, or just campaigning for the boss to buy you all lunch.
There’s nothing quite like having that support network and camaraderie.
Striking out in the freelance world I was very aware that I was Going It Alone.
While on a small team I might be vying against my colleagues for the centre-spread, in the freelance world I’m going up against hundreds of other people for the very limited amount of space which is available to non-staffers. I thought it would be a fierce frenzy; competitive and more than a bit cut-throat.
Just before I left my job, a company invited me along to a freelance drinks event – who knew one of the perks of freelance would be new events?!
And the group of people there could not have been nicer. People I had never met were giving me tips or editors names who they thought I should contact, the details of agencies if I wanted to do some corporate work, and taking my email address in case they could pass any work my way.
I left feeling baffled but pleasantly surprised by my new group of peers. Freelancers are….nice?!
I then joined a Facebook group of freelancers and the sense of community there is pretty incredible too – people share ideas, tips, contacts and plain ol’ rants when they’re having a bad day.
It might not be the same as having a colleague who can buy you coffee when you’re
hungover tired because you worked so hard, take you out to lunch if you’re having a rough day, or pass you a great story they don’t have time to follow up but I think knowing that network is there is pretty invaluable even if I don’t use it much.
And stepping up and doing a freelancer good deed gave me the same fuzzy feeling I get from helping out any colleague.
If lack of support is something putting anyone off of going freelancer, I’d cross it off your ‘cons’ list.