There are a lot of startups and businesses eager to get a freelancer as their customer.
Through my work with the Freelance Jungle, I’ve become a little bit of a sought after commodity because of this. One thing I have noticed from the 5 approaches from co-working places in Sydney in as many months is that freelancers are valuable.
I’ve seen from the offers of e-Bidding sites willing to pay for our drinks that this is a crowd that people want to woo.
But despite the multiple offers of free space and the occasional offer to pick up our bar tab, I am yet to find an offer that is really a head turner.
Why? Well, it’s pretty simple, really.
None of these offers make my life easier or make for a better experience for Freelance Jungle members. These offers are pretty one-sided.
Here’s why you should build on an offering to create a mutual exchange if you plan to get a freelancer on side
1) Be clear on what you are offering.
Are you trying to get a freelancer on side by offering rooms? I appreciate the offers of free spaces, but I already have free spaces to choose from. I know the places in Sydney I can take my members for a drink without paying a hire fee or a minimum spend. So having a free room doesn’t solve a problem for me.
Which leads to me the next point…
2) Make life easier for the customer.
Walking into a pub means people can eat what they want, buy their own drinks and spend what they can afford. The Freelance Jungle is a popular way to have dinner for example. It’s also a popular way to catch up when you’re skint and can’t afford too much of a financial investment but still want the company and advice.
Walking into a co-working joint for an evening means someone has to organise the drinks, the food, and hope everyone likes eating chips and dip.
This increases my workload and my stress levels while offering a less appealing option catering wise. This is of no logical benefit to me.
Let’s be honest here.
You want access to my database of freelancers who turn up to the freelance events I run.
You want me sending out your promotional material to my audience that I have painstakingly built over the last 6 years. You want me to offer your space or your service to my audience that listen to what I have to say.
This is great- it means I am doing something right. To get a freelancer on-side, you think I might be a viable pathway.
The problem is, the assumption I’m a goofball or that freelancers aren’t that business savvy is erroneous. To get a freelancer interested, you have to start treating us like equals. Not plebs.
Beyond (attempting to) stroke my ego, here is what I want from you in turn:
- An understanding that my opinion cannot be bought
- A respect for my audience of freelancers and the challenges they face
- Some kind of solution that makes their life and my life easier on an ongoing basis
- Some kind of extension of that understanding by offering to lessen the burden of and/or solve some of the challenges we face
- An understanding that to get a freelancer to listen, you need to respect us first
And do your bloody research, please.
It’s very clear from my website I don’t carry paid advertisements.
If you asked me, you’d know I refuse to carry paid blog posts on my site. I will not take money to endorse products or services I do not believe in. In fact, I’ve never taken money even for things I do believe in.
Not one of these organisations and companies offering to ‘help’ the Freelance Jungle has ever attended an actual Freelance Jungle.
If they had, they’d realise we never have presentations so offers to come and present simply demonstrate how little you know about your intended target audience.
Being nice to freelancers isn’t rocket science
It isn’t hard to get a freelancer on side. If you are a business keen on helping freelancers, let me give you a little direction. I don’t want you walking away thinking I am unreasonable or a cranky nut-job. I’m just frustrated I have to keep sending the same tired email back to the same tired approaches.
I do want a hand because I can’t solve all this on my own.
Here’s what Freelance Jungle participants already do without you:
- Exchange leads for work
- Discuss their pain points
- Get their work done
- Find other freelancers to work with
- Get basic advice on common problems and customer management
- Drink, eat and be merry
- Network with their peers
- Discover training courses
- Find their way out of a paper bag when it comes to business
We occasionally have a wobbly about these things, but generally know how to pull ourselves up without too much trouble.
Here’s what freelancers need help with that’s a bit trickier to come by:
- Access to proper advice from solicitors and accountants that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg
- Access to debt collection agencies and advice on how to deal with clients that have decided they shouldn’t have to pay
- Some ongoing loyalty and support for your local industry. “I can pay some dude in India $500 to build my website” being applauded by Australian entrepreneurs on a regular basis leaves us really, really cold. You want us as customers spending money? Support us being able to make it, too
- Mental health and stress support
- Low barrier ways to test out our ideas as we try to diversify
- Low cost places to run their training events. News flash- we can’t afford $1K a day or to pay you 50% of the ticket sales if we run a training event. Especially if we are trying it for the first time
- Training that matters. We’re already running a quasi support group and the problems are far more real than what software to buy or which hot-desk to hire. Come talk, or better yet, listen and you’ll soon find out what they are
- Access to your database. It simply isn’t fair to want lists of freelancers and heaps of introductions to them if you don’t want to share who YOU have on your books
- Lead generation. If you have startups and businesses as your customers, it seems logical you should introduce us to them
- Someone to get a freelancer and respect them. Yes, I’ve brought up the respect thing a couple of times now but seriously- build some
The bottom line on ways to get a freelancer to care about your offer
Yes, I am protective of my freelance audience and Freelance Jungle participants. It’s because I have their best interests at heart. I’ve spent the last four years not only freelancing, but trying to work out ways to support the other freelancers around me. These guys trust me because I haven’t sold out and I don’t sell their details.
So if you want access, you have to earn it.
I am looking to work with anyone who can make freelancing in Australia gain the recognition it deserves as long as you respect it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
This sentiment isn’t unusual. I’d wager this is how most people feel about their businesses, audiences, lives and wallets.
So if you are going to court a freelancer as a customer, think about how you can solve the target’s problem first. Start from the end result and work backwards to see if you can make it happen.
And stop sending the emails and join us for a beer, please.