You know how it’s way easier to go to get in shape when you have a buddy who is pushing you to go the extra mile, lift the extra rep, or put down the extra cupcake? That mode of support smoothly translates into the freelance world as well. To keep those creative muscles flexed, it helps to be surrounded by individuals who have similar goals and skills. For writers, the community is massive and offers ample destinations for you to contribute. From broad groups to niche, there’s likely a writing community out there for you right now.
If you don’t already belong to one, here are ten freelance communities worth checking out. Let’s create together:
For Sharing Ideas
For those of us who have been meaning to write that novel, but have never really gotten around to it, there’s National Novel Writing Month. The name, conveniently, says it all. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. It sounds daunting, but you’ll be in the thick of it with others crafting their own stories. As you make progress, you are awarded participation badges. When it feels like you’ve hit a wall, there resources available— like in-house advice and “pep talks” from well-known authors.
Imagine every instant messaging system you’ve ever used: AIM, Skype, Gchat. Now, picture it being infinitely better. Slack is so special because it goes beyond instant messaging capabilities like your phone goes beyond… phone capabilities. For example, you can upload and share documents to get real-time edits and feedback. Organization between channel participants is also highly customizable, and instead of accumulating a list of contacts, you can just join a group. Our suggestion? #Freelance, which is a great way to have some company during those quiet days working along. It also helps that users will share ideas and client leads, too.
Not to be outdone by Slack, behemoth social network Facebook has launched a similar web app called Workplace. However, it hasn’t become widely available yet, so if you want to get things done with the Blue and White you’re most likely going to be working with Groups. Facebook Groups has grown drastically over the past few years. Today, they have become repositories for awesome link lists, and extensive Reddit-esque comment threads. There’s also the possibility that someone could pass along a request for freelance work that is right up your alley!
For the General Work Search
Elance and oDesk were both folded into Upwork, bringing three great freelance communities together. The new Upwork allows you to put your best freelance foot forward. In addition to the standard profile, you can take certification exams and display your score to show off to potential clients. If you’re working around the clock, there’s a premium option that dramatically increases the number of client connects you can have. It also allows you to see the bid range for any job, so you can negotiate for the right amount.
This is a community that prides itself on the idea that anything that you want done, can get done. In that respect, it’s sort of like Upwork, but Freelancer Community comes with its own integrated software that lets both the client and the freelancer track hours, progress, and communication. On top of that, it also includes a search engine that allows you to find the resources you need to develop new skills from UX to a new coding language.
It’s a Freelancer’s Social Network, with a generous splash of the matchmaking characteristics of Tinder. Many of the communities on this list make it the freelancer’s responsibility to find work— you complete a profile, they set you up with the resources or the connections, and you make magic happen. But this works the other way. After creating your profile, you’re matched to jobs that would seem like a good fit. Once there’s mutual interest, you’ll be contacted for an interview.
This is a client-facing service that connects businesses with qualified freelancers. Instead of looking for the actual posting, users look for the “Peeps” (that’s you, the freelancer), which displays their skillset and community rating. It’s hidden away on the site, but they do have a page where you can sign up to share your freelance talents!
The Niche Freelancer
The Society of Professional Journalists was founded in 1909 with the mission to “inspire and educate journalists… and protect the First Amendment”. It’s awesome that they’ve expanded and included some top-notch online resources for the freelancers among us, too. Building out a freelance career in journalism means that you’ll need to develop a robust network, and SPJ has the tools to make that happen, thanks to the Freelance Community Chat and the Freelance Directory. Also of note is their “Journalist’s Toolbox”, which is full of resources to elevate your stories and make them all the more appealing to editors.
From the makers of some seriously gorgeous WordPress themes comes Envato Studio, a freelance community built for graphic artists and designers. There is one caveat: the service providers are hand-picked by Envato. But once you’re in, a world of opportunity will open with projects that span web design, audio, and mobile development. If you already have a solid portfolio and experience under your belt, it may do you well to register interest…they just may contact you!
CareerBuilder already made a name for themselves as one of the internet’s largest job boards. Sologig is their venture into the engineering and IT professional niche. The layout is pretty barebones, and it’s not particularly freelance-first. But those opportunities do exist on those boards— even engineering firms need technical writers and web developers!