When I first arrived in Sydney, I was desperately trying to seek PR and Social Media freelance gigs to keep me busy until I found a stable and secure job role. You would think it would be pretty straight forward within in our connected online world but I found it a lot harder than expected. Nina Hendy is someone I have followed whist being in Australia (or you could say stalked ;-) ) as she provides fantastic advice on how to network, approach journalists and create the content people want to read.
I received an email about Nina’s new project The Freelance Collective and instantly wanted to know more. The guest post below explains why and how this community for ambitious freelances in Australia all started.
Freelancing Made Easy
Spruiking yourself as a freelancer can be difficult, not to mention expensive. Aside from that, it’s not something that comes easy to most of us.
I’ve been freelancing for more than a decade, and have a bit of experience in the delicate art of self-promotion. And it hasn’t been an easy road, let me tell you.
I started out with a decent LinkedIn profile, learning that the summary section is best used to sell your skills, while upgrading my subscription to a LinkedIn Premium account (which costs more than $700 a year) gave me the ability to see who was looking at my profile. It bought in a little work, which was great.
Upgrading my ordinary website to something more professional was the next step. While it is possible to build a site for free, it wasn’t my core strength as a journalist and wordsmith, so I made the decision to outsource this task to a website developer. It ended up costing a lot more than I thought it would, but I was thrilled with the results. It’s pretty different to what others in my field are doing, and I decided to update my red typewriter logo while I was at it.
My name and number was listed on a few sites like mUmbrella and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance under their freelance listing section, but it only gave me the chance to list a bit of a brief blurb on what I do and my name and number, which made it pretty tough for a potential client to decide whether I was the right fit for them.
While my organic search results in Google for my name were great, I was finding it impossible to get found if someone was searching for a freelance journalist or wordsmith. So, I made some enquiries into hiring an SEO expert to help with this, who quoted close to $1000 for the work. And given I didn’t want to take a paid advert as a journalist because I didn’t think it was a good look to have to take an ad as a journalist, the SEO expert wasn’t able to give me any guarantees that they would be able to get the results I was going for.
It presented an interesting case for an entirely new approach to marketing as a freelancer, and prompted a series of video conferences with others in my network and website developers to see if the idea in my head could actually solve a massive problem for others just like me.
Why not build a place for freelancers to actually create their own profile page; tell their story in a compelling way, provide links to their social media feeds, website, and samples of their work?
A New Idea
The Freelance Collective was born, giving creative freelancers across 23 industry sectors the chance to join, and sit back and let the clients find them when they’re in the market for someone with their skills. Freelance PRs, bloggers, copywriters, photographers, website developers, journalists, editors, marketing folks and those in related fields are jumping on board, excited about the possibility of telling their story in their own words and letting the clients find them.
The other beautiful thing about The Freelance Collective is that it gives quality freelancers real visibility in a cluttered and confusing freelance market. What a freelancer ‘does’ and the service they offer can be pretty broad, after all.
Aside from that, somewhere along the line, freelancers have become a faceless economy. I believe this has come about because a client will hire a content marketing agency to create a series of blogs, for example, who will then outsource the actual writing work to a freelancer. Usually, that freelancer completes the work and sends it in to the content marketing agency, not speaking to the client at all. The problem with this is that the client forking out for an expert to write for them has absolutely no idea who actually did the work, and whether the freelance is an expert in writing about startups for example, or someone based in India who has absolutely no clue about the Australian startup scene, except for what they’ve read online.
But profile holders on The Freelance Collective are vetted to ensure they’re good quality. They also have to be based in Australia and be available for work.
We wanted to level the playing field, too, so freelancers aren’t required to add in how much they charge or where they’re based, because the best freelancer for a client based in Sydney could well be living in the back of Ballarat.
It costs $9/month to sign up to The Freelance Collective and we’ve got weekly freelance tips and advice, and a private Facebook page for profile holders to bounce around ideas, find collaborations and feel like they’re part of the freelancing community.
Nina Hendy is the founder of The Freelance Collective – Australia’s home for creative freelance talent.
Follow Nina on Twitter @NinaHendy