Online communities are becoming a vital part of virtually any website or app you use day to day. Whether it’s a support forum or a YouTube channel to chat about gaming, its very obvious many people get off on contributing to a space that’s focused around a specific interest or goal.
Today, software makers, consumers, and kids use their own networks/sub-communities to voice their latest thoughts and ideas. As a result, the Twitters, Facebooks, Instragrams, Reddits and more are bringing a collection of people together (no matter the size) to communicate among one another however they please.
Over the last few years we started to take a zoomed out look at what a community is and why its important to those that contribute. Through obvious and not so obvious cues we determined that while communities are hot, there are some that just don’t exist yet that need too. We aim to enhance a specific niche by creating a new platform. Learn more about it below.
When I first started getting into the design world I did odd jobs to make a few bucks here and there. Friends, family, my band, others bands, and some low ball clients got the beginnings of my graphic design career. I really enjoyed the variety of work, being my own boss, and allowing myself to say no to certain work. Before I really knew freelancing could be a long-term job I ignored that it actually could be. Based on social norms, persuasion from peers, I assumed I absolutely had to go to school, get a degree, and then a job working for some big company somewhere. Boy was I wrong…
After going to college and getting some foundational knowledge down I started interning at local agencies.
In doing so, I realized immediately that I was never really a great team player. That’s not to say that I can’t work within those constraints (I do today) but more so that I wanted to own what I was working on without too many people hovering over my shoulders.
My internship was nearing end. I was getting paid hardly anything. I was also driving roughly an hour to and from the agency I interned at. I was miserable and thought there had to be a better way.
Interning was good experience for me but it was also a learning experience that you might otherwise not think may be the norm. Unlike others I’ve heard from in my situation I learned immediately I wanted to work for myself. My version of future success looked like getting the salary I wanted without having a boss. I was determined to make this happen (and still want to today).
My internship ended abruptly (I pretty much just stopped going) and decided to grind my way towards a freelancing career.
Starting out, I took anything I could get. I found some crappy work designing info-graphics, publications, and more but at this same time I began transitioning in to web design. The world was focusing less and less on print and I saw this coming while in college.
One thing I rarely regret is teaching myself both web design and foundational coding while in college for graphic design. None of my teachers were teaching these concepts and looking back I feel like I wasted so much time and energy because that’s literally all I do today.
Side note: Kids, if you know what you want to do and it doesn’t involve obtaining a college degree for a ridiculous amount of money, move forward and try your hand without college. The worst that could happen is you go later (which you probably won’t need to do)
Remote work wasn’t widely popular yet
I was on the forefront of when remote work became more normal in our industry. I wanted to be my own boss, work from where I wanted, and when I wanted. Commuting, offices, drama, and annoying colleagues were, and still are, a total buzzkill for me. Being an introvert made that promise of pursing freelancing full-time even more validated.
Combining my growing freelancing career with my new love for remote work made working fun again. I saved so much time not commuting or being bothered by co-workers in an office that I often got work done in less than 30 hours a week. This gave me time to learn new things, explore the great outdoors, and ultimately lead a nicer life.
Things got better
About 2-3 years into freelancing I was getting good at scoping leads. At this time I mainly scoured the internet looking for freelance remote jobs. Looking back I remember how painful it was to constantly hunt for semi-decent looking gigs but I managed to land some that really accelerated my career.
Today there are sites for this but most of them are shit (freelancer.com, upwork.com, etc..) You can make money on these sites but you de-value your offering the second you sign up. Trust me, don’t bother.
My best years of freelancing occurred when I found a client that sourced their agency to other big-name clients. I was sub-contracted but managed to work for some really well-known brands. The work was exciting, paid well, and was on-going. You can’t get a much better outcome.
Fast-forward to today
Today, I work for a popular online design community called Dribbble. Alyssa and I keep Couple of Creatives running on the side. We both started as freelancers and wanted to maintain some of that spark even though I took a full-time role.
We take on less projects but still keep our doors open. I’d be hard pressed to say that I don’t miss freelancing because I absolutely do but growing older means making tougher decisions for my families sake.
When I freelanced in the past I only had a dog to take care of. Now I have a wife, a son, a new kiddo on the way, two dogs and a mortgage. Freelancing has many perks but the dry times are consistent enough for a growing family to suffer unless you have repeat clients you can count on. I could have this but those clients still didn’t provide insurance plans…lol
All of this is not to say that I don’t condone freelancing anymore. In fact, If you’re considering it I absolutely encourage you to try it for a while. This is especially true if you happen to not have to take care of family members or a mortgage.
There is so much to know about freelancing and you can really only learn through others or by making mistakes and learning from those like I did over the past 10 years. The experience up to today has been thrilling for us but we are looking to turn a new leaf.
Pay It Forward
Instead of being a full-time freelancers we decided to build a new community for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike.
The name of the community is pending but we have a short and sweet tagline for what it’s all about:
A community made for freelancers built by freelancers
The community will be an invite-only online resource we predict could be the best place to:
- Learn about getting started with freelancing
- Further your freelance knowledge/experience
- Meet and chat with other like-minded freelancers
- Find high-quality freelance jobs/roles that are reviewed before being published
- Find long term clients and/or repeat clients
- Celebrate wins, discuss losses, and rally for what freelancers believe in
- Gain advice, knowledge, and inspiration for running your own business
- Post freelance jobs/roles
- Post relatable freelance questions, blog posts, success stories, failures, and more
- Find freelance meetups, post freelance meetups
And that’s only scratching the surface. Our key goals are to maintain a high-quality pool of freelancers that talk the talk and walk the walk. Between those select few we will issue invites so that those people can invite others who have what it takes to join the community and contribute successfully.
Wrapping up for now
This blog post officially announces the first public mention of the new freelance community we are building. We hope to solidify a name soon and start sharing more as progress transpires.
Alyssa and I are building this while I work full-time and Alyssa raises our kiddos. Things will happen, but they may be slow. Rushing never helped anything or anyone 😉
Soon we’ll build a landing page where you can subscribe to get notified of updates as they come up until our initial launch.
The community will be invite-only to keep quality levels high. Any freelancer can request an invite but we review every one that gets submitted. You can expect more details on the reviewing process to come soon.
We are building this with intention in mind because we are passionate long-time freelancers who want other freelancers to succeed. The platform we hope will be a new way to give back and make freelancing become an even more popular way of life for many.
Thanks for reading,