Facebook has definitely been in the headlines lately, but it still carries a huge value. So, make sure you’ve reviewed your privacy settings, and let’s dive in, shall we?
Despite the growing tide of freelancers, this is still an emerging lifestyle we all need a little guidance in molding. It’s all part of crafting our #bestlife, amiright? As freelancers, we need more spaces to connect and combat the inevitable loneliness that comes with serving clients and not connecting with enough people who understand you. Communities and monthly events – like those from Rising Tide Society and the Freelancers Union – are great for in-person adult friending. But in the meantime, you need more regular support, encouragement and – let’s be honest – lifelines. It’s a daily grind and there are so many hats to wear as a freelancer – CEO, CTO, CFO, HR, admin, cheerleader, the list goes on – and that doesn’t even include the balance of your everyday life! So, here’s the rundown on how to make use of these special spaces where you can find people like you, promote yourself, and get any number of answers to your questions. All from your bed, coach, workspace. We don’t judge here.
This is by far the biggest contingent of Facebook groups that are out there for freelancers. They are often started by people within client management platforms – like Upwork and Lyft, by podcast hosts with day jobs – like Jenna Kutcher and Michael O’Neal, or by freelancer coaches – like Jenny Beresand others that require you to pay for a course they’re offering. Regardless of who started them, consider it one of your missions to look for groups you can follow or join that were started by people or companies you admire. Birds of a feather flock together – and you can have some comfort and trust about the community given who started it and why it was developed.
Many of these groups will ask you for a little more information about yourself before allowing you into the fold. They’ll also often have a pinned note at the top of the discussion thread or About page to let you know how to best engage with the community and any no-nos. Many of them will have designated days or ways to promote your own business and what you’d like to learn from the community. I love seeing these posts and giving feedback whenever someone asks for logo thoughts or how they should go about pricing their services. In addition, you’ll see a lot of people posting about their current frustrations. I find these the most wonderful posts because they’re so real – and seeing everyone surround individuals with care and help is beyond heartwarming. What in incredible show of humanity to embrace each others’ vulnerabilities. Something we can all look forward to contributing to, right?
These groups typically have an element of support, but they’re really where people post to get or hire for jobs. These groups typically focus on more established professions like marketing, writing, videography, accounting, etc. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into one of these fields, don’t be shy. Joining one of these groups can be really helpful to learning how to develop and market yourself. Learning the terms and needs within a field is half the battle. And if you’re just starting out you might find you can easily chime in with newer platforms or software than others might.
These groups tend to be fairly well-monitored, but as with any job postings be sure to be clear. If you’re posting a job, make sure you clearly state some of the needs and parameters, like you need a videographer for a wedding in Washington state in June and the client’s budget for this is $3,000-5,000. Being clear about the needs will help you get more targeted responses. If you’re looking for a job, ask for that level of clarity and make sure you define the scope in advance. Make sure, in subsequent correspondence, that you treat this like any other job where you would ask for contract signing and a deposit or payment in advance. Vet whoever you might be hiring or working for, so there are no surprises down the road.
Finally, I highly recommend that if you have a developed or are developing service, to consider creating a Facebook group. If you’re on a platform like Fiverr or Rover, you may not need or want one today. But if you have your own website or are developing your brand, you’ll want to start one because it’s a great place to start developing a coaching platform. The top 40% of freelancers out there have been developing their careers for longer than 5 years. And the top 20% have been at it longer or built a incredibles business in a shorter period. This means if you’re in that top 40%, you have a ton to share with the up-and-comers in your field. Paying it forward with your hard-earned lessons can become a great income source that compliments your continued client work.
Look to your favorite people in your space to get some best practices. If there aren’t any – wow, what a great blank canvas for you to take over! Just look at stars in other spaces to get some ideas. Generally, you can create this space however you’d like but be sure to include blog posts (on Medium or your own site), updates on when you might be at a conference or open for some office hours, pro tips on how you run your business everyday, etc. All this advice is really invaluable as you’ve spent years collecting it – and you’re still evolving beyond whatever you’re sharing with this community. So, go for it! Create a group (you can always rename it later!) and start engaging with your friends, family and all sorts of freelancers looking for your suggestions and help.
My friends wouldn’t say I’m an introvert… but I have my days of sheer overwhelm. For those days, I especially love Facebook groups, where I can just sit back at my kitchen table and post help, thoughts, and engage without putting on makeup and driving out to an event for an undefined period of time. Just join a few groups today and see where this takes you. I’m sure you’ll gain at least a few new friends. Till then, I’ll see you on Facebook – and all the other usual online.