Freelance writers spend much of their time alone, huddled in front of a computer screen. But the best and happiest freelancers are not merely diligent writers. They also nurture their creativity through connections with other writers. When we participate in communities of other writers, this transforms a sometimes lonely enterprise into a fun and rewarding profession. It’s the same in life, right? Relationships give daily life its vigor; conversations with friends and loved ones are where we try out ideas and discover more deeply who we are.
Relationships are an indispensable resource in our professional lives, too. Healthy professional connections do not merely lead to paid gigs. They also breathe life into what we do. Most freelancers entered this field because they wanted to be creative at work. And writing of all kinds–including copywriting–feels creative when we do it alongside and in conversation with other writers.
Not only can other writers help us refine our ideas and skills, but they also offer support, accountability, and copywriter resources. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to create community and cultivate creative relationships as a freelance writer.
Why Writers Need Communities
One way of thinking about writer communities is as a group of writers who have come together to expand their networks, discover new gigs, and exchange copywriter resources. But this framing feels altogether too transactional. When we think about writer communities merely as good places to find jobs, we limit their scope. Writer communities should support freelancers professionally and feed their creativity. To get the most out of your writer community–for it to matter to you–your engagement in it should go deeper than networking.
For both new and experienced freelancers, your fellow copywriters can offer support in various ways:
- Their experiences are a barometer of the industry. They know what people are paying and charging, which clients are great to work for, and how many hours you’ll really need for that new gig.
- They offer copywriter resources. Writers in these communities freely offer advice about which copywriting courses are worthwhile, what websites are helpful, and what not to do when seeking new gigs. They share their tools, too, including helpful templates writers can use to get started in the industry, or tailor for their own use.
- Experienced freelancers mentor newer writers. Because writers at all stages of their careers participate in these communities, new writers benefit from others’ expertise.
- They are a reality check on your frustrations with clients or writing tasks. They can help you discover if your exasperation is warranted or if you should do things differently in the future.
- They are expert commiserators. Nobody identifies with the ups and downs of a freelance career better than other freelancers.
- They can point you toward gigs that may be perfect for you, especially those jobs that aren’t the right fit for them.
In a thriving writer community, your fellow community members are invested in your success. When you surround yourself with other freelance writers, you gain access to not only brass-tacks advice but also moral support. And when your income often relies on securing that next gig, moral support is no small thing.
Join Up With the Good Ones
When working to create or join a community, begin with people you know and trust. You don’t need to be writing for the same industries or in the same style, and you need not limit yourself to communities made up of only copywriters. A vibrant writing community is one where different kinds of writers are working on different kinds of jobs. The critical ingredient is that you feel comfortable asking for and providing support in your community.
To discover communities where you can become a valued member, start close to home. Consider the relationships you’ve already established, both personal and professional. Ask yourself: do I see this person as someone who could offer me support in my work? Would I be willing to support them? If the answers to these questions are yes, then reach out. These people might be:
- fellow freelancers at an organization for which you are currently working
- supervisors and managers at your current organization(s)
- current or former clients and colleagues
- friends who work in related fields: journalism, advertising, nonprofit work, creative writing, corporate communications, etc.
When you reach out to people who like and respect you, you’re likely to spark their desire to collaborate. Simply by making it known that you’re looking for creative and professional support, you create the possibility that someone will offer it. Ideally, these folks are members of formal and informal writer communities, and you’ll receive an invitation!
Share Your Talents
Professional copywriters are typically proficient at writing for a few specific industries or on a particular set of topics. When we make our particular skill sets known to our writer communities, we increase our marketability. For example, a healthcare industry copywriter would likely be challenged to create copy for a car blog. But if their writer community includes an automotive industry copywriter, the gig would be an obvious fit. When members of writer communities learn about job opportunities in others’ areas of expertise, they tip off their fellow writers, who can follow up on promising leads.
A writing community is, ideally, a network rooted in relationships. If one writer refers another community member to a gig that is perfect for them, the favor will eventually be returned. We are not precisely the same kind of writers; we’re not competing for the same jobs. Instead, writer communities are groups of people pursuing similar goals who are invested in one another’s success. Sounds great, right?
So, Where Are These Writer Communities?
If you’re lucky, you’re already in a writer community; you just don’t know it yet. When you’ve reached out to the people in your existing circles, you may discover that some are already talking about writing gigs, copywriter resources, and other job opportunities. These conversations may be happening on a text chain you’re invited to join, in a Slack channel, or in a monthly virtual meeting. When they occur with people whose professional acumen you trust, these organic connections and conversations are incredibly valuable.
But more formalized online writer communities also exist, and they provide the same benefits! Over time, some of the members of these communities will become people you know and trust. Take some time to find the writer communities that feel right for you; each has its own character, emphasis, and vibe. There is an online writer community out there for everyone. Here are a few:
- Copywriter Exchange is a community of freelance writers in conversation. Its members ask questions, offer advice, and discuss the details of the trade. This community also provides articles and copywriter resources for new and experienced writers who want to level up.
- Community of Professional and Freelance Writers is a clearing house for all kinds of writing questions and ideas. Its members are working freelance writers who request and receive practical advice about working in the copywriting industry.
- The Freelance Writer’s Connection is a LinkedIn networking forum for writers. It includes links to copywriting courses, other membership organizations for copywriters, and a variety of other resources.
Be the Writer You Want to See in the World
Ultimately, the benefits you gain from participating in a writer community will be equal to your level of investment. If you are determined to not only do your work but also to be gratified by it, a community can help. The support of fellow writers is critical, especially when deadlines are stacking up and the writing tasks ahead make you feel less than inspired.
Writers who participate in communities are never really alone. Though most freelance copywriters spend a lot of time sitting alone at a desk, we also exist within the world of ideas and language that attracted us to this profession in the first place. When we write in community with others, we get to live in that world every day.
Jenny Noyce is a former academic with lots of practice researching, writing, and thinking. Now, she employs these skills on her clients’ behalf. Prior to working as a copywriter for Content Workshop, Jenny taught writing for many years, earned a PhD in English, and is parenting a couple of kids.
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