As you might know, I've been working closely with the Freelancers Union for the past 6 months to develop Freelance 360, a professional development series to help freelancers live an integrated and satisfying life as a freely self employed person. (Pilot events are happening in New York and Portland, Oregon so far — see if there's one coming up near you.)
I loved this idea from the moment I heard about it last month. It breaks down the process of building a successful freelance life into steps that all of us can use to gauge where we are. Plus this frame makes it easy to figure out what you have to do if you want to reach for the next level. Here are the levels they've identified — see if you agree:
The Unfree Freelancer — You’re constantly stressed out about money — getting enough gigs to pay your rent and put food on the table is your only priority. (I meet a lot of freelancers at this level.)
The Hustling Freelancer — You’ve finally got some gigs, but they’re sporadic. Of course, things like insurance or savings or a real plan for the future are still out of reach. (Often, this is where my clients start out when they find me and are ready to get to work on improving their lives.)
The Empowered Freelancer — You’ve got some steady clients and maybe can even find some time for a vacation (but still check your email from the beach). Your network is small but growing. (A lot of my clients fit into this category.)
The Influential Freelancer — Clients are finding you. Your peers are asking your advice. You’re financially stable and healthy — you might even have life insurance! But you’re still missing that thriving community you need to be a truly successful freelancer. (This is often where I see people get a little complacent — things have improved so they are tempted take their foot off the gas a bit.)
The 360 Freelancer — Congratulations, you have achieved self-actualization! You are living a New Mutualist life! You’re looking to the future and seeing that you’re more successful when you work with your network. You’re happy and healthy and giving back — living a 360-degree freelance life. You might even start a cooperative business! (More and more freelancers are aiming for this — which will be easier now that we know it exists formally. In fact, all of the freelancers presenting at this year's Creative Freelancer Business Conference (May 12-16 in Boston) and this Thursday's "Strategies for Creative Freelancers" (online event are either already in this category or well on their way by generously sharing what they're learning with their peers.)
You can read more about each level here…and then let me (and them) know what your think and where you are on the pyramid.