2 minute read

Launching a community

A new community for freelancers, independent of social media and tech.

There are plenty of reasons to not like Facebook, but the choice of freelance of groups on there is amazing. From the 6,000 strong Freelance Heroes to parent-focused Doing It For The Kids, and newer groups like the Being Freelance Community: help is never far away.

The founders of these groups have done an incredible job of fostering groups that have become actual communities. Supportive, positive and safe spaces for freelances to chat openly about their struggles and successes in the self-employed careers we find ourselves in.

And that is no mean feat. Many of us will have seen places that look like communities but, in reality, are nothing of the sort.

There are plenty of freelance groups that thrive outside of the Facebook sphere, too, mainly existing on Slack.

An independent space

Lots of freelancers prefer not to be on one or both of these platforms, and I’ve noticed a growing demand for a community that serves this group.

Independent Work is a community for these freelancers. It’s open to all and you don’t need to hand details over to a tech company.

It runs on Discourse, open source forum software that runs beautifully smoothly and can be accessed via an app when you’re on the move.

One member wrote to me recently and said they “didn’t know [they] needed a forum”. Forums are kind of old school, but they offer some really neat features:

  • Messages are kept forever
  • Conversations are threaded
  • The format encourages/rewards meaningful and considered discussions
  • Members are in control of their notifications (no work/personal blur)
  • Easy to search
  • Topic organisation is straightforward

And there are other things, too. 

To be open, or not to be open, that is the question

I’d intended the community to be open to the public, possibly with a private category for more sensitive discussions. I saw the advantages of this being:

  • A more accountable community
  • The encouragement of positive debate
  • Topics would become an open resource for members and non-members
  • Discussions could be linked to/referenced externally

However, the founding members raised three main concerns:

  1. It wasn’t clear that the community wasn’t hidden to the public
  2. They would be more likely to discuss things in more detail if the community was login-only
  3. While it’s open, search engines can index all of the content: that might not be desirable

With this in mind, the community is login-only. In future, I might set some public categories, perhaps of useful resources, but for the time-being the community will exist behind a login.

Like the sound of it?

If you’re a freelancer, we’d love you to join us

The community is free to join and is proving to be a genuinely enjoyable forum to discuss freelance topics. 

See you there.