How to build an online freelance community—no matter where you're freelancing from.
There are so many upsides to being a freelancer. You have more freedom and flexibility—especially in terms of when and where you work, or who you work with.
But all of that freedom and flexibility isn’t without its challenges. There’s a certain level of camaraderie that happens when you work in an office. Maybe you become friendly with the people you work with, making it easy to bounce ideas off of each other. And, if you’re lucky, you can find a mentor who can help you take your career to the next level.
Unfortunately, those opportunities are harder to come by when you’re running your own show. But there’s a solution: finding a freelance community. And the best part? It doesn’t matter where you live or work from—you can find your people right from your laptop.
Why Is Community So Important?
A community is simply a group of people that you have something in common with. And as a human being, it’s only natural that you want to find a group that brings you a sense of belonging, supports you and provides a safe space to share experiences.
Specifically, freelancer communities can help you expand your professional network and support you throughout several challenges, such as:
- Helping you fight off isolation. If you get lonely throughout the workday and crave some social interaction, message your freelancer community throughout the day (or even schedule Zoom coffee breaks). It’s a great way to keep feelings of isolation at bay.
- Providing you with a sounding board. Need someone to bounce ideas off of or talk through an issue? Look to the people in your network. Because they are also independently employed, they can understand your perspective and give helpful insights.
- Connecting you with potential mentors. If your network is primarily made up of other freelancers who do what you do, chances are, there’s someone who is a few steps ahead of you in their freelance career—making them the perfect candidate for mentorship.
- Opening you up to new jobs. Many communities have job boards with exclusive freelancing opportunities—and even if they don’t, often freelancers will share jobs they were offered but weren’t quite the right fit to see if they can find someone else to take on the job.
- Expanding your network outside of your geographic area. Chances are, there are other freelancers in your area. But finding a community online removes any geographical barriers—so you can find the one that feels best to you, no matter where you call home.
Where to Find Your Community Online
Clearly, connecting with a freelancer network online is important. But where, exactly, do you find that network? Here are nine places where you can find your fellow independent workers on the web:
Facebook Groups can be a great way to connect with freelancers in your niche, industry or area. For example, if you aim to travel the world while you build your business, you might want to check out the Digital Nomads Around the World Facebook Group (currently 134,500 members strong). Or if you’re a writer and want to connect with other freelancers who write for a living, you might consider joining The Write Life.
The point is, there is a Facebook Group for every type of freelancer out there—so if you want to join a community for freelancers and immerse yourself in a place where other freelancers network and connect, it’s a great place to start.
LinkedIn isn’t just about finding jobs. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn also has plenty of groups specifically targeted toward contractors and independent workers, like the Freelance Writers’ Connection, Independent Contractors Alliance or FlexJobs LinkedIn Group. You can also build your network on LinkedIn by searching for other freelancers in your niche, industry or area and connecting directly.
The social networking platform Reddit has a group (known as a subreddit) for just about every topic known to humanity—and that includes freelancing.
The r/freelance subreddit (which currently has nearly 160,000 members) is a place where freelancers can ask questions, offer encouragement or share helpful tips with others. Once you’re a member, you can ask a question or make a comment to the group—or, you can share your insights by responding to someone else’s question or comment.
So what kind of freelancing ground do they cover in r/freelance? Recent topics in the feed range from how to effectively collect payment on a late invoice, helpful tools and resources for running a web design business, and how to handle referrals. If that kind of information sounds helpful, this subreddit could be a good place to check out.
Slack has become the go-to platform for work-related communication. There are a ton of Slack channels for freelancers like Workfromanywhere, Remotely One or Online Geniuses, which is targeted towards freelance digital marketers. These channels allow you to connect with other independent contractors for real-time conversations, virtual coworking, digital networking and—let’s be honest—all the hilarious memes.
Twitter may not be the first social media platform you think of when it comes to professional networking, but engaging in Twitter chats on freelancing can be a great way to build community. For example, #FreelanceChat meets every Thursday at 12 p.m. ET to discuss everything from fixed rates versus hourly pricing, and how to use blogging to build your freelance career.
If you want to get more specific with your Twitter networking, you can also create Twitter lists of people by geography or interest so you can easily find fellow freelancers in your area, niche or industry.
Quora is a question-and-answer site. Basically, anyone can log in to the site and post a question—and then any other members of Quora can share their answers. There are TONS of questions related to freelancing (there are even questions specifically about where to find a community of freelancers!), so it can be a great way to get helpful information and connect with other contractors at the same time.
Meetup is known for its in-person events, groups and get-togethers—but they also have a lot of virtual meetups, which can be a great way to connect with other freelancers and build a community on the web.
8. Professional Associations
Many professional organizations like the Graphic Artists Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors also host online events, conferences and meetups, which can be a great way to connect with other freelancers and build your network. Plus, if you decide you want to take those connections into the real world, you can also join your local chapter!
9. Freelance Work Platforms
There are a ton of platforms out there aimed at helping freelancers find work, build their careers, get connected with resources or get connected with other freelancers. Some are work-focused (like Upwork or Freelancer), some are resource-focused (like Freelancer’s Union) and some are connection-focused (like The Freelance Institute).
Get Out There and Build Your Online Community
Being a freelancer is awesome—but it can also be a lonely experience. Having a community of other freelancers can help you avoid feelings of isolation, connect with like-minded people to share ideas and insights, and grow your professional network around the world.
Time to get out there and find your freelance community!
This post was updated in September, 2020.