Dear Freelancers, 

How we work is changing (duh). 

We all know your way of working is becoming the norm. Yesterday everyone thought you were a blogger; today you’re the ‘future’ of work.  

But what most freelancers don’t see is that there’s a deeper change beneath the surface. You’re not becoming the future, you’re becoming obsolete. 

Think about it like the flip phone. At the time that you got your first Motorola Razr, or even better, the T-Mobile Sidekick, technology seemed like it was moving crazy fast. Then, before you knew it, there was a phone that had no buttons and could connect to the internet. Overnight, this phone became the norm, the flip phone became a distant relic, and Nokia became a meme rather than a valuable business.  

Today, you’re at risk of being the flip phone. In this article, we’ll show you why (and explain how to be the iPhone). 

The Change In Action

Last week I intro’ed a freelancer to a hiring manager at a big tech company. 

The hiring manager was a PM in a product group, and she told me she “just needed a writer.”

I wrote the email, then saw this response later that night: 

“I’ve been tasked with writing 3 papers with slightly different audiences and purposes. Writing is not my skill set as I’m on an innovation team here that is focused on customer, market research conducting experiments, etc. Now we are at the point we have enough data and are in a crunch to get our findings out the door.”

Now think about it. On your own, could you spin around three different whitepapers in under two months? Of course not. No matter how good you are. 

Instead, you’ll have to reject the opportunity. Or worse, accept it and then not deliver, burning the bridge for working with this big tech company.  

 

The New Type of Freelancer 

Fortunately, the freelancer I introduced to the tech company understands the secret to being a freelancer today – scale. 

In this case, scale means delivering 3 different whitepapers in 2 months on time and on budget.

Every business scales through people and processes. For companies, ‘people’ are full-time employees. For freelancers, you can’t afford to hire full-time employees, and you don’t want to – what freelancer leaves corporate life wanting to become a middle manager with no salary and benefits? 

BUT – you still can’t be an individual. You need diversity in skill sets and the capacity to get the work done on time. 

Take Max Pete, a freelancer who specializes in Squarespace website design and advertising through social media and Google. Max takes on a variety of projects simultaneously. One day it’s a full website redesign; the next day it’s launching an ad campaign. Max is a clear subject matter expert on his offerings, but he can’t do everything himself. He still needs to sleep (and time for surfing). 

So what does he do?

“I keep an ongoing list of talented freelancers in my network who specializes in my field + other fields where I may need some help, especially graphic design and branding. Having others in my network is incredibly important to scale and grow in your business.” 

Same with Helen Dibble. When this client expects 3 different whitepapers in 2 months, she taps into her network of trusted freelancers – we’ll call it her talent cloud – to enable the diverse skill set this project requires. As she says, 

“Working as a team makes us all better. Sure, I could take this work on myself. But no one can proof their own work well. And no one can be an expert in everything. As a solo copywriter, a project of this size would stress me out. And that’s not why I got into this game.

“At Incredibble, we’ve got Excel-loving data nerds, headline-popping advertising geeks, SEO sleuths and people who do nothing but proofread. We’ve got people who nail ‘corporate friendly’ and others who smash ‘consumer cool’ out of the park. We’re a community and we collaborate, meaning we can take on a rich and diverse number of opportunities. And two (or more) brains on a job definitely leads to a stronger result.”

Scale is the future you need to be ready for as a freelancer. And working with fellow freelancers is your secret to scale. 

 

Why the Freelancer Collective is the Future  

Clients need you to scale. 

When I was leading enterprises to hire and work with you, we kept running into a problem: It was too hard to hire you for expensive projects.

It was easy for low-risk and low-complexity projects, like writing a blog post, designing an infographic, or market research. And the unit metrics were incredible: 

  • Faster: From 30 days to 2 days
  • Cheaper: 50-90% cost savings
  • Better: In an agency, clients don’t know who’s doing the work. In freelance, they have complete visibility into who you are and what you’ve done prior. When they see your experience and your portfolio, most clients are amazed they have access to you. 

BUT for high complexity projects (the ones you want!) – the clients just kept going to an agency

Why? Because the agency didn’t say no. They could (in theory) do everything. And why was that? Because they could scale! 

According to Liane Scult, leader that built Microsoft’s internal freelance program, 

“Companies are increasingly trusting freelancers to take on work that used to be done by 10+ person teams or trusted agencies. These projects are complex and demanding. Some require multiple diverse skill sets and the flexibility to quickly ramp up the volume of production. While traditionally working with freelancers meant hiring an individual freelancer, and expecting them to do all the work, today’s projects require more of an agency experience. 

“You have your go-to freelancer. They scope the work and take ownership of the outcomes. Behind the scenes, similar to what people call the ‘Hollywood model,’ they have their go-to network of freelancers they collaborate with. It’s a truly remarkable process to experience!” 

 

What This Means For YOU

GOOD news: As we discussed in our article “How COVID-19 Has Changed Everything,” you’ve now gone from a ‘nice to have’ resource to a necessity. Organizations NEED you to grow their businesses. 

BAD news: While they’re shifting from spending on an agency to spending on you, their expectations are still the same – they need you to say yes, and to deliver team-sized outcomes on time and on budget. 

Which means you NEED to be like Max and Helen. 

Don’t worry. You’re not behind. You’re still way way ahead of the curve. But you need to understand how to scale your freelance business.  

To help, we’re accepting 50 applicants to run on Venture L in the month of June. Each applicant receives 1:1 advisory from our team along with access to the platform. 

Application: https://venturel.io/app/

We’re also offering free access to our Ultimate Guide on Freelancing Course. You’ll learn why the freelance economy is growing like crazy, why companies hire freelancers, what companies are increasingly expecting, how to position yourself, and how to scale your freelance business.    

Secure your seat: https://venturel.io/ultimate-guide-to-freelancing-course/

You’ve got this! And we’re here for you every step of the way.

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CEO of Venture L, Author of The Human Cloud

Matthew R Mottola is a global leader on the Human Cloud - the transition from physical and full time work to digital, remote, independent models.

At Microsoft, in joint partnership with Upwork, he built the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit - the unlock for enterprises to embrace the human cloud at scale - bringing Microsoft from nascent to an industry leader in under two years.

At Gigster, he built Ideation - enabling freelance developers, data scientists, and product managers to consistently generate what should be built in the software development lifecycle.

His work has been featured by Forbes and Fortune to name a few. He is an international keynote speaker, speaking at leading conferences Remote Work Summit and YPO’s Innovation Week to name a few. He is the author of StartUp Not StartDown, upcoming book The Human Cloud, and contributor to leading industry reports.