Being a freelance writer can be a lonely gig. Most of the time, the “freedom” part is achieved by being categorically disassociated with any one business. You probably get on Upwork or a similar platform, have a small (or large) roster of clients, manage your own processes and operations, and subsequently get a little sliver of aforementioned freedom. But this freedom comes at a cost, and I’m increasingly seeing writers a little hungry for connection and community.
Now, when I personally talk about community, I don’t mean shelling out thousands of bucks for a copywriting guru to work with a cohort of people for six to eight weeks (after which you are somehow mysteriously and magically transformed into a competent writer with market-ready skills) (I have feelings about this). What I do mean is finding other like minded writers whom you admire, who have skills that differ from yours, and who you connect with often enough to learn from.
This kind of professional club of working writers is something a lot of us kind of want, but don’t know how to find. It’s one of the reasons I actually started Hire a Writer. Whether or not you’re an extrovert like me, you may be hungry for feedback that doesn’t come from a client, hungry to see how other writers structure their work or approach certain kinds of copywriting, or hungry to make human connections with other intelligent and articulate individuals.
Why You Should Work With Other Writers
I realize I prematurely listed a bunch of benefits above, but in my career as a writer, I’ve found five key reasons to pursue relationships with other writers.
1. Other Writers Will Answer Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask
As you observe how another freelance or professional writer shapes their career, you’re going to immediately have ‘Oh, duh’ or ‘Aha’ moments. This can be about everything from how to manage daily writing schedules to how to name files in your Google Drive. Client invoicing? Sales management? Productizing and pricing your work? Number of clients? Emails? Blogs? Pillars? All of it - you’re going to get to peek behind a curtain on how other people have built successful writing careers, and immediately see opportunities on your own. I coach a lot of writers, and this is a big differentiator for the ones who make it to six figures and beyond: they’ve watched how other people do it, connected strategically, and not started from scratch. Only a fool thinks they’re doing something new: learn from other writers, and you won’t be reinventing the wheel.
2. You Get Feedback on More Than Your Writing Work
Clients and editors will effectively tear you apart, so you can build better work. That’s healthy and important, as is editing your own work, but there’s a lot more to a writer than just words on a page. Your success as a career writer requires you to hone sales skills, refine your identity and build a network of relationships. What you are and aren’t doing well is often a mystery, unless you have clear data points setup to measure success. Other writers can look into your Instagram presence, your LinkedIn profile, your personal writer blog, your email newsletter and provide real feedback on what they do and don’t like. What’s more, when you get close to other writers, they’ll let you see how they’ve done it. You can take what you like and present them with feedback on what you don’t. This is immensely valuable, and gives you clear insight that you can do something about.
3. You Get Creative Energy and Ideas
This one is huge for me. Writing is an inherently creative career, and no one is an endlessly self-sufficient source of good ideas. Other writers, in almost any context, can spark fresh thoughts in your own mind. Listen to what they’re doing. Read their work. Ask them to brainstorm. This is something hugely missed by solopreneurs, and I do think it’s a genuine risk of being on your own. You simply cannot and will not continuously generate enough brilliance to sustain your own work. So, build connections with people who inspire you. I always tell my writers they need to read a lot: it’s the only way to refill all of the words we expend in a given week. The second most important thing is to be weird, be wacky, be wild, and think freely, living in your gray space for at least a little time a week, so you can train your brain to be creative on demand.
4. You Get a Break From Leading Communication
As a writer, you are on the frontlines of leading communication for all of your clients, and even for your own career. The most long-term, profitable client relationships are one in which I am making most of the decisions about what we say. This is great, but it’s also another creative expenditure. And, at the end of the day, being in charge of all communication is another risk: you could live in an echo chamber, without any real checks and balances against whether what you have to say works. Other writers will unravel this a bit, poking holes in your logic, finding flaws in your humor, uncovering areas of weakness or sloppiness. You need that desperately if you’re going to continue to be successful. Relationships are a give and take, and relationships with other writers give you a chance to receive and follow and nod along, taking something in for once, rather than just spewing it out.
5. You Have Professional Friendships
This is unique, this little life of ours in the freelance writing world. We’re in a lot of businesses, we see a lot of people, we work with designers and developers and marketers. That’s all good and fun, but the people with whom we will most often have the deepest kinship are other writers. These professional friendships are exceptionally important to our long-term wellbeing. Not only do other writers understand your life, they can be a source of social support. I’ve never been a solopreneur, nor do I want to be. And even if you do, all of us get by with a little help from our friends.
Find Writer Groups
There are a few ways to go about finding writer groups. Here at Hire a Writer, we’ve kept the core team small because we don’t want to lose personal connections. That’s key. You can’t join a random Reddit thread and hope to go deep. I mean, maybe. But for the most part, the best writers I’ve met have been through personal connections. You’ll see them across a Zoom chat make a Shakespeare pun under their breath and… you just know.
My best recommendation is be aware: follow other writers online, sign up for the newsletters, subscribe to their blogs, connect with them on LinkedIn. Not only will it give you the chance to find your own little writer group, it will give you access to their talent, should you ever want to refer someone to them in the future (spoiler alert: you will).
Every so often, our little Hire a Writer world opens up to someone new. You can always reach out to see if we’re hiring. If you do, be prepared for weird Slacks and edifying bi-weekly training, which are two different things it was odd to put together in a sentence. But I don’t edit these blogs.