The theme for this years European Freelancers Week is ‘Freelance Ecosystems in Europe.’
The goal is to help you find the people, movements, organizations and communities that exist to make your freelancing a little less lonely.
But what are ‘Ecosystems’ in everyday freelance life, and where do you find them?
You probably have an idea of the concept, but ‘Ecosystem’ sounds like something a theorist sitting in a library writing their next paper about the future of work would talk about.
But as you scramble to finish one bit of work, find the next bit of work and work out when you need to pay your taxes, are you thinking about Ecosystems?
If you are like me, ‘find an ecosystem’ is in the same place as your intention to sort out your website like you have been meaning to do since you started being a freelancer!
So, in reality, you probably are not thinking ‘oh, I need an ecosystem!’
We’re here to help in two ways; first, this post here will help you find the ecosystems that are already around.
If you can’t find them, we’ll show you how to start your own in European Freelancers Week (it is easier than you think).
The second way is with interviews like the one you are reading here, I interviewed myself!
We are inviting people like you to share their story in this google form here with the questions below.
It’s not all glamour and gleam, but its still our dream!
Everyone has a different experience of what it is to be a freelancer and this shaped by how you grew up, the place you live in now and what is important to you today.
The Freelancing world is so much more than white men with perfect white teeth drinking flat whites in an ideal coworking space funded by venture capital.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll bring you stories from all over Europe to help you connect with stories from others building a freelancer life.
Simply answer the questions and upload a picture.
We’ll help you edit it and get it published in the next few weeks, get the basic idea in the form and we’ll help you.
Especially if English is not your first language to write in, we can help edit it!
Also, share the interview form with other people who you’d like to shine a light on.
Do you know some who would inspire other people to either get started or up their freelance game? Share the form link!
I’m working an on a podcast network with several channels including shows about Coworking, Coliving, The Commons, Freelancing and writing.
I love it because I get to meet and interview people from all of these worlds.
When you have a dedicated recorded conversation with someone, you get to connect with them and then connect them with 1000’s of other people.
The podcast keeps me curious, I love the people I work with, and I am always learning on a knife-edge how to make it all work.
First of all, in Mainyard Studios, the coworking space I am part of.
Every morning I spend 15 minutes talking with Yann and Tash in the kitchen about books, I love these micro-interactions.
This coworking space has a community lunch every Wednesday where we all eat together and friends connected to the coworking space join in too.
At these events the topics are specific, so we all get to geek out!
Online I am part of Freelancer Heroes Facebook group which is 7K+ UK based freelancers. This has been great for connecting with people around the UK, we meet up once a year for Freelancer Heros Day in Wolverhampton and for local events too.
I’m a member of two online learning communities “The Content Marketing” Academy for business coaching and in “Make Your Mark” for learning about managing a WordPress website. And of course all the people I meet through the European coworking community!
There’s a small section of people who are connected to all of these places or ecosystems.
And through this cross-section is where the most in-depth learning, support and referrals come from, that is my real ecosystem.
Photo Credit Eric Van den Broek, Coworking Europe
The most significant benefit is learning how to be a freelancer.
No one teaches you how to do this, and at first, I thought everyone knew what they were doing except me.
I started out in freelancing as a ‘freelance event manager’, I had formal hospitality qualifications and years of experience.
I knew everyone in the industry, and I was part of a group who had progressed together, so we took care of each other.
When I made the blind jump into marketing in 2006, I had to find a new ecosystem.
The jump came because I’d was asked to create a website for the event staffing agency I worked at.
I enjoyed my newfound role of putting words on this internet thing, I stumbled across a book called Purple Cow by Seth Godin and was hooked.
For a few years, I struggled to work things out and started going to networking groups. In 2008 I found Meetup.com and twitter, which led to discovering freelancer and coworking Meet Ups, like New Work Cities, but I was in London and NWC was in New York!
London is a great place to be a freelancer!
But one tricky thing is the way freelancing is recognised by places like government, National Health Service and financial organisations
When you have a job, there is a consideration for you if you are sick or off work paternity.
I know many freelancers and independent workers who have been put in jeopardy because it is a grey area.
Being signed off sick and keeping up with house payments while being freelance or other independent ways of working is not as clear.
It seems the independent workforce is exploding and legislation from traditional establishments is slow to adapt to our needs.
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