Freelancing can be a lonely endeavor, but when thousands of lonely and creative freelancers band together in online groups and forums–we can make magic. Whatever needs, goals or questions you may have regarding your freelance career, there’s a community out there where you can get it figured out—and probably make some freelancer friends along the way.
If you’re a creative person with entrepreneurial ambitions, it’s a good idea to put together a mix of different people or communities who can each play one or more important roles in the progression of your career: mentor, idea-bouncer, financial wizard, social butterfly of the industry and even a shoulder to cry on.
Here are a few online communities to try on for size:
Goal: Instant support and feedback, self-promotion, networking
Resource: Facebook group
Why: Trying to reduce the time you spend on Facebook? Then don’t join a Facebook group. The comments and posts in these often closed or secret groups will come at you fast and furious, so although you will receive tons of excellent advice and sincere support and make great connections, be sure to turn off your notifications setting once you join. For photography and videography, try Fstoppers. For freelance writers, try Rockin the Side Gig.
Goal: Collaboration, support, job seeking
Resource: Freelancers Union Hives
Why: Currently hosting 242 different “Hives” or groups, the Freelancers Union Hives community is a connecting point for “hundreds of thousands” of freelancers to discuss and collaborate online or create local meet ups. You can even start your own Hive if you want. Sign up for a free membership with Freelancers Union to join the Hives community.
Goal: Networking, self-promotion, job seeking
Resource: LinkedIn group
Why: Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Sign up now before anyone finds out, and fill out your profile completely. LinkedIn offers over 3,100 freelance-related open and private groups in English (groups in Spanish, Italian, Dutch and French are also available). You can create your own group if you don’t find what you are looking for. If you are seeking to build relationships and market yourself, this is the place to do it.
Goal: Human contact with like-minded souls, classes and workshops
Why: Even if it is work-related, chatting online or scrolling endlessly through forum threads can be a big drain on your energy. There comes a time when you need to get your ass out of the chair, get out of the house and talk to a fellow freelancer face to face, like a normal person. Search for freelance-themed groups on your city’s MeetUp page, or you can always start your own MeetUp group if you don’t find anything to your liking.
However, keep this in mind as you enter into your community camaraderie: Just as important as finding the right kind of people or communities is knowing when to move on to a new mentor or new community.
If you’ve been part of a group for a few months or a year and feel that there’s nothing left to learn, if you no longer feel a connection to the members, the information or the discussions—it likely means that you’ve outgrown the group and have moved onto a different phase of your career or simply shifted your goals. (Although it could also mean that the group itself has changed in a way that doesn’t benefit you anymore.)
Don’t waste time reading online discussions or attending group meetings that are no longer relevant–just spend a few minutes unsubscribing from newsletters and removing yourself from online groups. As any serious freelancer knows, time is most certainly money.