Three Ways to Build Alliances With Fellow Freelancers

A recent blog post on the Society of Professional Journalists’ site rang true for us. The blogger attended a Mediabistro event in Seattle and wrote:

“The crowd is usually a mix of editors, journalists, PR and marketing folks, and the conversations were lively and informative. We shared ideas, contacts, success stories, pitching tips and a few assignments-gone-wrong tales of woe. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed mixing it up with my peers.”

Interestingly enough though her non-freelance friend attending the event didn’t quite understand how freelancers could be helpful to each other and freely offer suggestions and connections considering they’re in the same field and competing for the same work.

Dana Neuts pointed out her friend was surprised to hear her offer suggestions to a marketing copywriter who sought advice. She quipped, “Why did I do it? Because that’s what the freelance community is like, at least in my experience.”

Instead of feeling like competitors, especially if you’re new to freelancers, we can accomplish more by simply being helpful. Plus, it’s good karma. Here are three ways to build alliances with other freelancers.

1. Pay it forward and offer to make introductions. Or at least provide contact names. Landing a new client may be challenging for starters if you don’t even know who’s on top of the masthead. With an attitude of we’re all in this together and treating others how you want to be treated, helping someone out can go a long way.

2. Share rates. Go ahead — do it! How else will you know that you’re under charging a client? Not sure what the going rate is for a freelance social media gig? Post it on the Mediabistro boards and encourage others to talk about it openly and share what they’re getting paid.

The only way to get a temperature of the water by networking is to be open and honest. It’s not like you’re revealing your annual income — you’re simply stating what a going rate is for a particular responsibility. The same applies to some hard-to-research rates for gigs like public speaking and ghostwriting.

3. Be nice. The advice your mother gave you really rings true. Simply be a good person. Be appreciative, be nice, and it’ll get you far in life. Think about it this way: There’s an abundance of outlets whether you’re a freelance publicist or writer, graphic designer or social media guru. Whether it’s non-profits, corporate clients or brick and mortar magazines, you probably have a niche that makes you unique. You’re different from other freelancers and downright marketable.

In fact, some freelancers may even forge alliances with each other to market their strengths to the same client for a specific project. Overall, in our do good post for the day, Neuts reminded us in her piece,

“We have each developed our own niche. My specialties are business and community stories, Annika Hipple is focused on travel and hospitality, Crai S. Bower specializes in travel, adventure and humor. Even when our specialties do cross over, there are so many stories to be told that the prospect of two of us pitching the same story with the same angle to the same outlet at the same time are virtually nil.”