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How to build your community as a freelancer and why it’s so important, with Kyle Prinsloo

“A community isn’t how you meet up. It’s the people.”

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3 min read

Freelancing is often thought of as a solo adventure, and in some ways, it is.

You need to handle the creative and the operations of your business on your own; you interface with clients and produce the work; and you don’t have coworkers to share the workload or bounce ideas off of.

That’s why your freelance community is so important.

“Communities can teach you things like how to price your services, how to get clients, how to differentiate yourself and how to think about hiring people,” says Kyle Prinsloo, leader of the Freelance Fam community who teaches independent workers how to build a profitable freelancing empire. Plus, “freelancing requires building a brand, doing SEO, cold calling and advertising—things that require constant feedback loops and learning.”

Your freelance community can provide just that—and hold you accountable to your goals. “When I started freelancing in 2015, a friend and I would set weekly and monthly goals, then check in with each other when the time was up,” Prinsloo says. “It was helpful in getting us both off the ground.” (Here's more on starting your freelance web design business.)

How to build your freelance community

So, if you’ve been going at it alone, perhaps it’s time to turn to a supportive community such as Freelance Fam to level up your business-of-one. Some things Prinsloo says to consider as you build your freelance community:

Don’t look for work, look for people

“Tools and platforms are irrelevant when it comes to community. You could use Slack, Discord, Circle, or it could be offline,” Prinsloo says. “A community isn’t how you meet up. It’s the people.”

That means you need to find people who are relevant to your business: just because you’re in a freelancing community, for instance, doesn’t mean it's the right one. Members might also fly solo, but if the nature of their work isn’t agency-related, specific conversations around things like pricing or scope creep might become a moot point.

So, how do you know a community has the right people for you? Look to the conversations people are having to see what kind of exchanges and knowledge is being shared.

“The more specific and niche, the better,” Prinsloo says. “It's better to have 1,000 members who are really committed and focused on the same goals than 100,000 non-committed members.”

Network intentionally

Once you’re in, it’s time to introduce yourself. Tell the community who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking to contribute and get out of the community.

“It’s always a positive to build your brand by showcasing your expertise,” Prinsloo says. “When you do so alongside professionals in adjacent spaces, it elevates your authority, which only furthers the opportunities that come your way in the long run.”

Make it a point to engage early and frequently. “Our community has a weekly video chat where we highlight struggles and offer advice. We also do website reviews, and sometimes participate in competitions,” adds Prinsloo.

Post your work strategically

When you post examples of your work, people are more likely to think of you for future projects. That said, there’s a fine line between showcasing your work and being a full-blown PR machine.

So, make sure you aren’t only talking about yourself. No more than one out of every five posts should be self promotional. The rest should answer questions your audience might have, or introduce them to new concepts that can be of value.

“Cement your thought leadership by giving away your knowledge,” says Prinsloo. It may seem counterintuitive, but selflessly giving away some great insights in your content (while still attaching your name to them of course) can help you skyrocket your brand.

Keep your friends close, and your competitors even closer

On that note, if you see other freelancers and agencies purely as competition, you might be due for a reframe. The truth is, other freelancers (and especially ‘competitors’) are a valuable source of knowledge, both in terms of what you should and shouldn’t do.

Prinsloo says: “The thing is, you need direction. You need goals. You need a blueprint, and seeing your competitor’s approaches is a good indicator of how others are already thinking on the same subject.”

Cross-check who other freelancers in your community consider their ideal clients to be. Are they similar to your’s? Then, research what they’re selling to this audience, and how they’re framing it. Finally, consider if there’s a better way to frame your offer, in line with the value that you’re providing, your current level of expertise and your competitor research.

Ultimately, doing business is a social act, even for those running their own freelance businesses. Use these strategies to organically find clients or referrals, connect with mentors and strike key partnerships that take your freelancing business to the next level.





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