I don’t get it.
I see other freelancers (‘the competition’, if you will) being super-protective and not giving each other a hand up where it’s obvious they need to or simply could.
This contrasts massively with many of my entrepreneur friends and mastermind pals who recognise that sharing is caring. And caring is a damn powerful business tool, by the way.
Is this what sets apart freelancers from entrepreneurs? Is the entrepreneur mindset more collaborative, progressive, open?
I think so.
You don’t have to keep your cards close to your chest and make like you’re in competition. There’s plenty to go round. And if not, just make it so!
Being closed off to other freelancers means being closed off to opportunities as well as learning. You don’t have to close down and hide your stuff from the competition. Sharing is far more fun. And lucrative.
1 Connect and create
Especially in the writing, editing and publishing fields, more relationships and interactions equals more potential to create.
And we all love creating. Writers and editors creativity queens. So it all goes beautifully full circle. Writing , structural editing, copyediting and proofreading are sister skills. Create connections with your sisters!
Examples? Interviews, podcasts, panel talks, guest posting, writing articles for each others’ publications, skill swaps, collaborative products and services where you each deliver a part.
2 Share because it works
I’m discovering heaps of great free content that has been invaluable to shaping my business and stepping it up. I’m thinking the likes of Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, who’s so damn generous and at the time of writing provides free monthly group coaching calls for those wanting to start a small business.
She’s not the only one who shares for free. Many of the best entrepreneurs out there are not worried about sharing their knowledge. They know the value of giving, as opposed to keeping it all to themselves. And so they position themselves as the experts in their own respective spaces. Clever.
3 Partner up because it’s easier
Other people are going to take your venture the next level. You’re not going to do it all alone.
Much as we like to think we have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, it just doesn’t have to be so damn difficult.
Here’s a thought. Business life could be easy. But life isn’t going to get easier until you get other people on board.
Since embracing coaching and outsourcing, my business has gone to a whole new level. Other people’s expertise has been invaluable to me and I was so ready to get some help. What’s more, it’s all online. From bookkeeping and tax returns to VAs, from transcription projects to cleaning, let others lighten the load.
4 Refer and refer alike
Make referrals. Give testimonials generously.
If you can’t take on a job, give your clients another way to solve their problem by referring a freelance friend. Dangerous? Not if you know they’re excellent, kind, trustworthy. Be discerning.
I agonised over this one, but here’s the thing. You could let down my client and refuse a job and that would be the end of it. The lasting impression would be that I didn’t take the job, end of story.
By referring other excellent providers, you position myself as a person who knows others in the industry. You give off an impression of being well-connected, making you the go-to person. In other words, you are creating value for your client.
The lasting impression in that scenario is one of a very beneficial and helpful relationship and you haven’t let them down.
In my experience, other freelancers have never ‘stolen’ my regular clients, even though they did a fine job. In fact, if they do an amazing job, it reflects well on you, while you already have the long, established relationship with the client.
You may want to try this if you’re getting work from a client that you’re trying to step away from. This way, you don’t leave the relationship on bad terms, but politely offload it. Sometimes you just have to admit it’s not a great fit.
So stop, collaborate and listen!
The competition doesn’t have to be the enemy. The ‘competition’ could help you grow and service your clients better. Flip that fear on its head and connect.
Got a success story where partnerships have helped your business soar? Share in the comments.