The Value of a Freelance Community

I remember visiting a house a few years ago for an end-of-the-year 5th grade graduation party for my oldest daughter. It was beautiful; tastefully decorated and filled with old paintings from an Inn in Maine the child’s grandparents used to own.

“Wow, I wonder what this mother does?” I thought to myself, mostly wondering how she could work and put on a middle-of-the day party for a house full of moms.

Later, I found out she was a consultant and owned her own business. It sounded so awesome. So brave. So perfect. And so like nothing I could do.

Not long after that, I found myself leaving my job of 10 years. My most immediate plans were to enjoy a summer free of working. I still look back on that summer as a pivotal time when I allowed my body to rest and my mind to wander with “what ifs.”

 

Could I really do this?

 

As the kids headed back to school, I found myself straddling a line: One day I was looking for a new job, the next, I wanted to do freelance work and, dare I think, start my own business. Ultimately, the decision became obvious.

With steady work from my past employer, a friend hired me to freelance good-paying gigs. I bought some equipment and started shooting and editing videos for non-profits that were thrilled to find quality and affordability. Could I really do this?

My answer came in the way of joining Freelance Austin. I met others who, just like me, were struggling with what this might look like. More importantly, there were others telling me what it looked like for them. I heard the same pieces of advice over and over:

  • Charge your value
  • Set boundaries
  • Have a network

Sometimes, these are ALL really hard. Sometimes I charge too little because I want the work. Sometimes I get too much work and end up working an entire weekend. Then, I find myself too tired to attend a networking event.

But I think it’s this last one we sometimes need to remember the most.

 

Knowledge in my back pocket

 

For me, Freelance Austin has provided a look into a world I’m just learning. I’ve attended meetings and workshops on topics I knew nothing about. Sure, some of those skills I’m still waiting to implement, but I know when the need arises, I’ll already have that knowledge in my back pocket.

I also know I could go to the next meeting and ask a dire question and come home with several solid ideas on how to proceed.

But there’s more. Having a freelance community gives me the emotional support to keep doing this. The understanding looks and knowing head shakes when I’m feeling overwhelmed or under-utilized. The willingness to talk about something as boring, but crucial, like taxes. It’s a room full of people that my friends, family, and children couldn’t possibly replace.

 

Feeding my business in key ways

 

I think it’s helpful to know exactly how something is feeding you. Freelance Austin feeds my business in these key ways:

  • On-going education
  • Knowledge base for ideas/problems
  • Community with like-minded people

I encourage you to spend a few minutes this week thinking about how a freelance community does or could feed you. Furthermore, how are YOU feeding this community? While I doubt the answers will surprise you, I bet they will remind you that self-care comes in many shapes and forms.

Jeanie Garrett

Jeanie Garrett is President of Grace Communications and Consulting, LLC. Jeanie began her business in 2018, and it combines her past experience of church security planning and video production. Jeanie has three daughters (one of whom is a Beagle) and is married to her best friend, Greg.
Jeanie Garrett

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