The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, Part Two: Find Your Community

Oct 30, 2017 | Stephen Jackson

Believe it or not, freelancers make up a staggering one-third of the U.S. workforce. That’s according to a report from 2016, and that number has almost undoubtedly grown since then. In fact, that same study found that this group of bold individuals contributes an estimated $1 trillion dollars to the economy each year.

To give you some perspective on just how much money that is, if you were to count to one million (one-one-thousand-two-one-thousand…) it would take about 11 days. To one trillion? 31,710 years.

And that’s how much a trillion dollars is.

As such, there are tons of resources out there for people like you (if you’re reading and you’re a freelancer) and I thought it’d be helpful to point you in the direction of some things I’ve found to be useful in my own journey as a hired hand. If you haven’t already, go check our post on staying sane while working from home and the first installment of the Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

All set? Now let’s dive in a bit deeper, with two other tips straight from the desk of a fellow lone worker bee.

Join Freelancers Union

Drawing from her experience as a union organizer, Founder and Executive Director Sara Horowitz founded Freelancers Union in 2003 and in 2008 launched the Freelancers Insurance Company. She’s also a prolific writer, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and a whole bunch of other heavy-hitter publications.

“Freelancers Union gives independent workers a powerful voice through policy advocacy, research, and thought leadership. We aim to ensure that independent contractors receive adequate rights, protections and professional benefits,” writes Horowitz on the Union’s website.

Joining the union is absolutely free (as long as you qualify), and members are eligible for an impressive amount of diverse perks, including access to a National Benefits Platform, and many discounts, like up to $500 off your first class at General Assembly.

But even if you don’t join (there’s no reason you shouldn’t) you should slide over to their website and peruse all the resources they have to offer. They even have an app that will help you find a lawyer if you find yourself in a dispute with a client!

Get Educated

Working a self-driven schedule provides you with a unique opportunity to take a course you might otherwise be unable to if you are locked into a 9-to-5. For example, I’m currently taking a course at San Francisco City College in Adobe Premiere, an industry standard in video-editing software. Once the course is done, I’ll be able to put that skill on a resume. Bam.

Interestingly enough, the “textbook” for this class I’ve mentioned this before is a module on, a great online video learning platform. It’s not necessarily free, but it might be. As I mentioned in another post, your local public library might offer a free account (the one in San Francisco does). For that matter, if you live in SF, City College is completely free, so if you’re in the Bay Area, take advantage of it.

Even if your local college is not free, and you’re still in need of an extra push to go take a class somewhere, remember this: if you are a student — even if you’re just taking a single credit — you get student discounts on everything from computers and software to museums and movies. Spend the $30 a unit, and well, it might just pay for itself.

It’s also worth noting the unbelievable amount of things available on YouTube these days. Like, there are so many that it would be pointless to start listing them here. Basically, if you want to learn anything, from audio production to motorcycle maintenance you can teach yourself from the comfort of your home office.