Freelancing can be a great, but sometimes isolating experience- whether it’s a part-time or full-time profession. You’re out there on your own and it can feel like you’re in competition with every other freelancer for jobs and clients. But treating other freelance web designers, developers, writers, etc., as colleagues rather than competitors can actually be beneficial for everyone. Let’s explore why this perspective will help you build a better career and valuable relationships.
It may sound counterintuitive at first, particularly to freelancers just starting out, but treating others as co-workers instead of competition is actually great for everyone’s business (including your clients’). Collaborating with others who have the same or similar specialization can help develop your skillset, expose you to new tools and methods, and build a greater network. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate and share information with fabulous freelancers from around the country- every person I connect with offers new connections, perspectives, and opportunities for collaboration.
Working with others can help build up a network for potential referrals that go in both directions- I often refer to folks I’ve worked or collaborated with in the past for paid online marketing, graphic design, social media, and even web design if my skills or schedule aren’t the right fit for a project. Likewise, my business comes almost exclusively from direct referrals from past clients or contractors I’ve worked with.
The coworker mindset helps foster an atmosphere of collaboration, which is especially important in larger projects where multiple people are needed to complete a job. It encourages everyone involved to pool their resources and use their individual strengths to bring the project to its completion faster, more efficiently, and in a way that benefits your client.
Building Skills and Toolsets
Working with others can give you the opportunity to learn new strategies and tactics that you otherwise may not have been exposed to. As my freelancer friends will likely tell you, I talk (sometimes too much) about my favorite tools, classes, and conferences. Freelancers often share experiences, methods, and tools that are necessary for success, allowing everyone to learn from each other and stay ahead of the game. When we work together, we all benefit from each other’s knowledge.
Finally, working side by side with other freelancers can give you a much-needed support system, whether that’s social or professional. Stuck on a project? Someone in your freelancing network may have dealt with a similar challenge and have a suggested solution. Technical problems, interpersonal conflicts, and getting general advice are all way easier with a group of supportive fellow freelancers and contractors.
Thankfully, I have very rarely encountered folks who have such a competitive mindset that is detrimental to a project and I hope that that trend continues in the future. Thinking of fellow freelance designers (or any type of contractor) as coworkers rather than competitors has a ton of advantages for everyone involved— it creates new opportunities while fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, understanding, and learning.