Talking Shop With Fellow Freelancers
I found one of my long-term clients in my area through a freelancer I know. I chose my CPA based on advice from another freelancer who lives near by. Having a solid network of connections with other freelancers in your area can make a big difference in a freelance career — even simply getting together every few weeks and talking shop can make help you make the connections you need.
Good Clients and Bad
Whenever freelancers get together, it seems like we immediately discuss our clients. Talking about clients with other freelancers who live in your area can be an eye-opener: I got together last week with a couple of freelancers I know. A certain client that most of us have at least considered working with came up — as well as the fact that he tries to get every freelancer he works with to drop their prices for the first project or two, and then refuses to renegotiate rates down the road. Having this sort of information at your disposal can make a big difference when you’re thinking about taking on a new project. It’s not all bad news, though. Among our group, we’ve been able to pass clients along to whoever can do the best job for them — as well as take on new projects jointly.
You can get a lot of useful information about clients you want to work with (as well as those you don’t) by making connections with other freelancers. For this sort of information, it can be important to actually network with freelancers who actually live in your geographic area: while many of us find a significant portion of our clients online these days, most of us still find a lot of our clients locally, through word-of-mouth and networking.
Your freelance friends provide a support structure for your business that other connections might not be able to help with. A connection who can land you a new client may not be able to help you find a health insurance option in your area. Just in a short conversation about freelancing — just talking shop — I’ve gotten leads on a co-working space, the name and number of a new insurance agent and half a dozen marketing tricks I haven’t tried before.
Finding Other Freelancers
In some areas, it’s easier to find some like-minded freelancers than in others. Some cities have reoccurring networking events just for freelancers. Others have a co-working space or coffee shop where a lot of freelancers hang out. It’s worth learning about where the other freelancers in town are — and if there’s not any sort of existing group, it isn’t too hard to start one. Creating a freelance Meetup or recruiting a few fellow freelancers off of social networking sites can give you a starting point for a group to regularly discuss freelance topics.
The most important factor is having a place to meet. If there isn’t a freelance hang out, find a restaurant or bar that doesn’t mind having a table that hangs out for a while beyond simply eating. Many neighborhood restaurants are cool about such meetings, as long as you order a meal while you’re there. A useful indicator can be whether a restaurant has WiFi or a Twitter account. Either can demonstrate that the location is a little more willing to have guests that sit around and talk for most of an evening.