Being an independent creative of any kind often comes with the implied idea that other freelancers are your competition, but it’s time to think of them as your community.
With 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide, it’s easy to see why that blatant competitive mindset is so prevalent among creatives. There are so many other people who might be doing the same kind of work you are.
But what if we shifted our mindset of other creatives being our direct competition to something more mutually beneficial for all of us? This idea that we are all competing with each other can move into the idea that as creatives, there’s an endless community available to us!
Community is something we’re all familiar with. Applying the idea that we’re all in this together can really build an important collaborative and supportive space for you, the other creatives you know, and the larger community as a whole.
A wealth of knowledge and communication
No matter what kind of creative you are, you’re often going at things alone for the most part. Reaching out to and engaging with other creatives is a way to cut back on some of that isolation you often deal with! You’ll be able to build some meaningful relationships with other creatives along the way.
Other creatives in your niche and outside of it are all going to know different things to you. You might be a writer in the health space while other creatives you know work in graphic design, photography, and art. By engaging with creatives that operate both in your niche and outside of it, you’re all opening up to the opportunity to get to know each other and learn more as creatives.
Sharing knowledge with each other and just generally staying in touch is a way to build mutual respect and trust among all of you. Will there potentially come a time where you and another creative are looking at the same gig or area of work? Yes. But in a community where respect is often a building block among individuals, you will hopefully have an understanding between each other if that ever comes!
Landing more work + passing on opportunities
Having a community of other creatives is potentially one way to land more work for whatever niche you’re in. Perhaps, as a graphic designer, you know other graphic designers within your community. A situation might come up where someone you know might have too much work on their plate and they pass your name onto a potential client that they can’t take on at the moment. This established connection between you and another creative has led to a referral.
As an entrepreneur or freelancer of any kind, you know that your network is crucial to your work. People you know and connect with have the potential to pass on possible work to you. To further back this idea, in a 2014 survey run by the Freelancers Union, 81% of freelancers surveyed said that they referred work to other freelance and independent workers.
And of course, referring work is not a one-way street. You can return the favor. If you have a full workload, you’ll be able to pass on names and potential work to other creatives that you have come to know. The creative community is one of support and you and others all take part in it!
It can be lonely
As a creative, whether you’re working at home, from a co-working space, or from your fave cafe spot, it can sometimes be a bit lonely. So much of our jobs as independent creatives hinders around us being self sufficient, that we might often hit a wall of loneliness.
If you approach your other creatives as community rather than competition, you might find there’s the potential for both professional networking and new friends out there. A sense of community can be a very impactful thing in a creative’s life. You can have other people who work similarly to you to chat with, discuss the industry you’re in, and possibly even meet up with if you’re in a local area with each other.
Whether you build up your own community or join pre-existing creative or freelance communities, you’ll find that being able to have friendly conversations can help battle some of the loneliness that might spring up for you!
In the spaces that are formed by creatives, the competitive mindset is an easy one to keep. By taking the time to establish a community and get involved with other creatives though, you’re opening up so many possibilities. With a diverse network behind you, you’re going to see so many personal and professional benefits arise!