As a freelancer, you’re online. A lot. And while you’re online it’s possible that you’ve run into other freelancers.
In fact, if you haven’t done so, you’re doing something wrong. Networking with freelancers in your industry and others is a great way to land new work and, perhaps more importantly, to keep up with industry trends.
With that said, it’s natural to feel a sense of jealousy when you meet people in a similar industry. They may brag about writing for that multinational corporation, or mention that they’ve landed a gig designing an app for a popular ecommerce site.
Stop. It’s critical to your career that you understand one thing: other freelancers are not your competition. They’re your colleagues.
Jealousy Impacts Your Career
If you’re jealous of other freelancers, it’s going to ooze from your pores as a lack of confidence. Your colleagues will pick up on this, making them less likely to refer clients to you. Your clients will pick up on this, and that’s why they’re hiring your “competition.”
Run your business as exactly what it is: your own, unique business. It’s your voice and your specific experience that will land you jobs. Not the fact that you beat out someone else.
Still not convinced? Here’s why you need to stop viewing others as your competition.
You Need the Work
Other freelancers aren’t as jealous as you are.
Manymanymanymanymany of my clients have come to me as referrals. Those recommendations were made by – you guessed it – other freelancers.
By networking with others in your industry, you open yourself to recommendations. Perhaps you’ve got experience with medical or financial writing. Your tech writing friend can refer you, as she doesn’t know jack about the topic.
The same goes across areas of expertise, too. Maybe your friend is editing a novel, and the author is in search of a cover artist. Be kind to others and they’ll consider you first.
Referrals are more common than you might think. Read that how you like; what I mean to say is that no, other freelancers aren’t as jealous as you are.
You Need the Knowledge
Even if you’ve been in the industry for decades, you don’t know everything. In fact, I just posted yesterday about a client who asked me how I was able to quickly find .edu sources. That client is, himself, a freelancer who has been in the industry for quite a long time.
You can learn a lot from your fellow freelancers.
You can learn a lot from your fellow freelancers. Whether you learn about new ways to meet clients (I’d never heard of Alignable until a Twitter contact recommended it) or just learn how to cite sources, keeping in contact with other freelancers is like a Continuing Education class. And it’s free.
You Need the Friends
Freelancing is a lonely life sometimes. You work from home unless you’re in a co-working space. You don’t always have time to call friends or family and, let’s face it – the Kardashians in the background isn’t exactly ace company.
Streaming the Kardashians in the background isn’t exactly ace company.
Networking with other freelancers is a good way to get a little social interaction in your life. They work from home, too, so they’re available to chat now and then during the day. Plus, they get it. They understand the ups and downs of working for yourself. Don’t turn down quality friendship by being jealous and petty.
You Need to Learn How to Be a Better Freelancer
Okay, so in some cases you’ll run into a colleague who is getting better jobs. She makes more money. She writes for Forbes, for heaven’s sake. You need to collaborate with that freelancer to determine what, exactly, she’s doing right.
Nine times out of ten, your fellow (more successful) freelancer will be willing to share tips and tricks with you. In fact, most are more than happy to, provided you’re not interfering with their work day or nagging them incessantly.
Collaborate with the “competition” to learn what they’re doing right.
Even if she refuses to talk to you (after all, she’s busy with Forbes) you can still learn from her. Checkout her social media activity, or explore how she’s branded herself. Learning about your perceived competition will teach you how to be a better freelancer.
In short, play nicely with others. You need your colleagues and they need you. Don’t throw shade on your perceived competition. Instead, share resources and make everyone’s career more successful.