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Why Freelancers and Remote Workers Need Community

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It’s not until you leave your day job behind that you realize just how many interactions you had with people — how many relationships you developed.

Yes, even the ones you didn’t particularly enjoy.

Have you ever rolled your chair over to a friend’s workstation? Gone to lunch with co-workers? Been invited to a holiday party? What about seeing other people’s faces on your way into the office? Interacting with a barista at your favorite coffee shop?

Have you ever asked a co-worker a question because you didn’t know the answer? Received constructive criticism from a boss or manager?

Those valuable interactions are how we learn and grow. But when you quit your job to become a freelancer or start working remotely, you leave all of that behind.

The Reality of Working From Home

When you quit your job to pursue full-time freelancing, everything changes. At first, it will be exciting and liberating. But it won’t take long for the harsh realities of working from home to set in.

Here’s how most days will look from now on:

You’ll wake up and get ready for the day, but you won’t commute. You’ll sit down at your desk and start work, but never leave your home.

You’ll work alone in your home office as the days, weeks, and months blur together. You’ll go to bed at night and start over again the next day.

You’ll report to no one but yourself.

You’ll have no boss or co-workers to resent anymore. If you’re single, you won’t smile at anyone. You won’t argue with anyone. You’ll have nothing to complain about and you’ll have to make a conscious effort to exercise your vocal cords.

Over time, you’ll maintain friendships with varying degrees of success. But other than your freelance clients, you’ll rarely interact with another professional.

Freelancing can be incredibly lonely and isolating. It demands that you be independent and self-motivated.

You might have a nicer view. You can go to coffee shops or co-working spaces, but how much do you really interact with people there? How many of them are going through the same career transition you are? How many of them will be able to give you sound freelancing advice?

If you’re in a relationship and have a family, freelancing might not be so isolating, but you still won’t have any freelance professionals to communicate with.

When you start freelancing, you don’t just need human interaction to maintain sanity. You need people to learn from as you make one of the most dramatic and risky career shifts imaginable.

Freelancers Have Questions

No matter where you are in your freelancing journey, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed with questions.

If you haven’t started freelancing yet, you might be wondering:

  • Where do I find clients?
  • How much should I charge?
  • Can I derive a rate from my salary?
  • How do taxes work?
  • Isn’t health insurance super expensive?
  • What if I can’t find enough projects?
  • What’s it really like working from home?

If you’re freelancing part-time, you might have asked yourself:

  • Am I charging enough?
  • How can I raise my rates?
  • Should I have my own website?
  • What happens when a client doesn’t pay me?
  • Does my contract include everything it should?
  • How can I get more clients to find me?
  • How do I transition to full-time freelancing?
  • What’s value-based pricing?
  • Should I form an LLC or an S-Corp?

If you’re freelancing full-time, you might be thinking:

  • Did I make the right decision?
  • How can I lower my tax rate?
  • What should I improve on my website?
  • How can I get better clients?
  • How should I manage multiple projects at once?
  • When are taxes due?
  • Who do I ask if I have questions about freelancing?

No matter where you are in your freelancing journey, you’ll always have questions. Freelancing is uncharted territory for most people. It’s not common knowledge you can discuss with family and friends. So the best answers will always come from talking to other experienced freelancers.

Unlike traditional employment, there are also many paths to freelancing success. The corporate ladder doesn’t exist. No two freelancers will have the same experience, which means we can all learn from each other.

Blogs, Newsletters, Podcasts, and YouTube Videos Aren’t Enough

I subscribe to plenty of blogs, newsletters, and YouTube channels. Podcasts are great too, but they’re all a one-way street. Most of the time you’re left with more questions than answers, but no one to ask them to.

Not to mention, have you ever noticed how much contradicting advice is out there?

One person found success in doing low-cost Fiverr gigs. Someone else is making six-figures selling assets on stock marketplaces. Everyone seems to have different thoughts about pricing and billing.

Some freelancers suggest cold calls and emails. Others (like me) recommend attracting clients to your own website.

Most articles are just fluffy clickbait headlines more concerned with SEO value than actually helping freelancers. It’s increasingly difficult to find sound freelancing advice online.

But even when you do, who should you listen to? What advice should you follow?

Freelancing advice must be tailored to your specific career path, skill level, capabilities, goals, and personality.

Everyone’s freelancing journey is unique and there are many paths to success.

Without having a conversation with other freelancers, you’re left to figure that out on your own — through a costly and time-consuming process of trial and error.

It’s during that trial and error process that most freelancers get frustrated, fail, and go back to full-time employment having wasted years of precious time and effort.

👉  Maybe you want to transition from television production to UX design or just want someone to tell you how to improve your portfolio website.

👉  Maybe you’re wondering if you’re underpricing your services or how to find your first paying freelance clients when you have no experience.

👉  Maybe you’re feeling uninspired right now and can’t figure out how other designers stay motivated and productive when working from home every day.

Your questions are unique! Blogs (even mine) can never fully answer your specific questions the same way a conversation with another freelancer could.

Freelancers Need Community

We are more digitally connected than ever before, but we’ve never felt more alone. There’s an urgency, especially among freelancers, to be seen, known, and valued.

Freelancers have questions, but no one to ask them to.

We all feel a growing desperation to converse with others. As humans, we ultimately crave the very social connections we were so happy to leave behind at our day jobs.

I made countless mistakes when I first started freelancing. Some mistakes cost me time, others cost me clients. I had little idea what I was doing and had to learn the hard way through years of trial and error.

I wanted to ask the experts who were writing articles and recording videos, but they were always out of reach. Had I been able to talk to other experienced freelancers and asked specific questions, I could have saved years of experimenting and cultivated valuable network connections in the process.

So what’s the solution? Where can you connect with other freelancers? Does a place like that even exist?

The Freelance Institute

Thankfully, I’ve seen more online communities being formed in the last few years. There are many Facebook and Slack groups available to join and some freelancing experts offer access to their own private community with the purchase of a premium course or subscription.

But most of them aren’t focused on helping freelancers learn. For the most part, they are casual chatrooms that offer little value.

I’ve often thought about why I spend so much time trying to help other freelancers for what is, in reality, very little reward. My articles and products generate a tiny fraction of my overall income, so what’s the point? Why keep going? What’s my mission?

I love helping others succeed at freelancing.

Freelancing has changed my entire life for the better and I want to help others find their own version of success. I love teaching and sharing what I know. I enjoy the uniqueness of each conversation I have with freelancers from all over the world.

I love answering people’s questions. It brightens my day when I get to provide valuable insight for someone who struggled to find the answer to their question in a Google search. It warms my heart when someone takes the time to reply to one of my newsletter emails.

That’s why I decided to create a community for freelancers called The Freelance Institute.

It’s a place where freelancers from anywhere in the world can connect with each other, ask questions, develop relationships, and overcome the loneliness freelancing so often supplies in abundance. It’s a place where freelancers can learn from one another and connect with like-minded peers.

It’s a place where I can help other people succeed at freelancing.

But at the same time, we can all learn from each other — and our community is set up perfect for that.

Similar to Facebook and forums, conversations can unfold in organized spaces with many people contributing their unique perspectives. The result is well-rounded, tailored freelancing advice created just for you in a matter of minutes.

Unlike blogs, YouTube videos, and podcasts, you get to respond! You can ask follow-up questions, ask for clarity, and validate your thinking.

Join a Community for Freelancers

Since starting the community, I’ve worked hard to make sure it’s extremely high-quality — just like my blog, newsletter, products, and services. I’ve always prioritized quality over quantity and I rarely push sales and marketing.

But today I’m inviting you to join what I hope becomes one of the greatest online communities for freelancers and remote workers (at a time when we all need community more than ever).

You can chat with me every day, ask questions to like-minded professionals, casually share what you did over the weekend, or send DMs to people you become friends with.

You can keep all your freelancing friends at your finger tips on the Circle platform. If an unexpected client situation arises, you can get solid advice quickly. When you need feedback on your portfolio website or aren’t sure how to reply to an email, we’ll be there to help you.

The Freelance Institute is a place for you to learn, grow, connect, and thrive regardless of where you are in your freelancing or remote-work journey.

Here’s what our community members are saying:

💬  “I joined the community to talk to other freelancers, bounce ideas off them, and learn — I’ve always wondered where to go for that!

💬  “I joined The Freelance Institute because I needed some guidance early on in my freelance career. It’s amazing to be able to learn from and connect with expert freelancers. I have no doubt that their advice will help me take my business to the next level!”

💬  “Every year, I spend thousands on events and courses to help my freelancing business. The Freelance Institute doesn’t replace intensive skills-building courses, but it does allow me to ask questions directly to experts, network, and troubleshoot any problems I’m having. $10 a month is a steal.”

💬  “The Freelance Institute has quickly become my new secret weapon. I’ve met so many talented people who have helped me take my business to the next level. There’s nothing else like it!”

💬  “I can’t afford to make mistakes when vetting new freelance clients so this community and Matt’s experience has been golden for me!”

💬  “Since this community is private & paid, the quality standards are extremely high. You can always rely on the community members to get the best freelancing advice.”

💬  “Not only have a received extremely actionable advice from The Freelance Institute, I’ve also gained access to a network of incredibly talented freelancers which has lead to making great connections and receiving more work for my business. I would definitely recommend any freelancer in any industry to join!”

So what are you waiting for? Join me in The Freelance Institute — a community for freelancers and remote workers.

Last updated on April 26th, 2021

About Matt Olpinski
I've been freelancing since 2009 and have worked with over 100+ clients including some of the biggest brands in the world. I later started my own company Matthew’s Design Co. and now teaches 50,000+ freelancers each year how to succeed through his personal blog, newsletter, and community for freelancers.