It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a bunch of communities to build a freelancer from coworking spaces to online communities to conferences.
#Freelance life is a never-ending lesson – here are the many communities I need to be able to thrive!
It has taken years to find them, build relationships with them and sometimes even have to kiss and make up.
Why Do You Need A Community?
So there I was, gazing out the window of my studio in Mile End London.
The tree outside my window was mesmerising me as I ponder about all the things I have to do.
Running a business, project or getting any endeavour going is a hard and lonely thing.
To get it in perspective, not hard like a shot in the face like Malala, but hard in an ‘I’m a white male living in London’ kind of way.
I look at each job, and I’m amazed at how fast the answers come to me about who to ask and action to take.
But this has not always been the case.
The leading cause in the dramatic plummet in my mental health ten years ago was working from home on my own.
I was seeking to connect and suffered not having people to bounce off. It has taken a long time, but these days I have people all over the world.
These are people I work with, bounce off, and they help me keep my independence as a freelance consultant.
It’s a list, and here we go.
1. Mainyard Studios
(Weekly Community Lunch at Mainyard Studios Bow)
Of course, I am a big fan of coworking; it is the industry where I do all my marketing consulting.
Mainyard is the coworking space I work from in Bow.
It has been open since last July, and I was the first person to sign up I have the smallest studio – I have the broom cupboard.
Every day is full of short and lively conversations in the kitchen. We talk about websites, podcasting, movie making and music.
We shout book titles at each other and eat lunch together every Wednesday; it is fun, fast and affordable.
Join the free open coworking and lunch every month here.
Mainyard in Bow is also HQ to all the meetups I run, which leads me to…
2. Meet Up
(Monthly Podcast Meet-Up At Mainyard Studios Bow)
I’ve now been on Meetup.com for over 12 years. Some of the best people in my network have come from here.
Pretty much every month for 12 years, I’ve run a meetup, and for the last five years, I’ve run one every week.
They are all there on this page HERE We have Write Club, Podcast Meet up, Art Club and the Co-living Meet Up.
A whole range of people come and talk about what they are creating, working on and support each other.
The support is best at Write Club, people write together and then help each other out on writing struggles.
3. London Coworking Assembly
(February 2020 Breakfast at Air Space on Oxford Street)
The group started in a Facebook group 2014 after Coworking Europe in Lisbon the Facebook group was up and down for years until we moved it to Mighty Networks.
Then in 2018, we began to meet for breakfast every month in a different coworking space.
See the video below for how much the Lisbon Conference fun that was!
Every month 45 people who own or run a coworking space in London come together to eat, hug and talk about how to do better.
I love these people, we talk about ‘business stuff,’ and vital topics like:
– Rural / out of town coworking
– Affordable workspace
– Mayor of London Workspace group
– Business Rates
– Young people in London (with Urban MBA)
– Academic research in the workspace industry (RGCS / Coworking Library)
– European Freelancers Week
– National Coworking Day
We get never-ending support from Matt at FreeAgent.com and Hector at Included.io.
London based Coworking Space operators can join here.
4. European Coworking Assembly Team
(Coworking Libary Meet-Up in Warsaw 2020)
I’ve been part of this group for the last three years, and the London group I mentioned above has grown from this.
The European Coworking Assembly is an NFP that works to supports space owners in Europe.
Every Friday is a team call to work through our projects.
My main project is the Coworking Values podcast with the amazing and formidable Željko.
At each conference, we go to we run a ‘camp’ where we book out a hotel or Airbnb and have everyone stay with us.
Watch this video here for an idea of a ‘camp.’
The projects are the same as London with the addition of European Freelancers Week and Coworking Library.
5. Freelance Heroes
(Freelance Heros Day 2019)
Ed Goodman has started a Facebook group of UK based Freelancers started called the Freelance Heros.
I was in the first 500 to join, it is now over 8k and for me, it is the pulse of real-life freelancing in the UK.
Ed and Annie run the Facebook group with an iron fist, so there is no self-promotion or nasty political slanging.
People ask for help on every freelancer headache like price, money, legal, what to have for lunch, productivity and mental health.
The main Freelance Heros website is here.
There is a brilliant annual get together in Wolverhampton, and the next one is here.
(Side note: I’m doing a 45-minute talk at Freelancer Heros day this year on Radical Collaboration and I can’t wait.)
6. StoryBrand Guide community
(StoryBrand Guide Class of Feb 2020 Nashville)
Early in 2020, I became a licensed StoryBrand Guide.
Which means I’m 100% equipped to help people build sales funnels and marketing using the power of story.
What we can do is in the StoryBrand Book, Business Made Simple University and Marketing Made Simple – published March 2020.
We are in small coaching groups and slack channels to work with each to grow our businesses, from setting pricing to getting feedback on our own websites.
This group is hundreds of people who have done the same high level of training as me but in different skills.
So if British Airways came to me and asked me to take on their marketing I could! I’d be able to build a team from these people in a week.
For over a decade I’ve been looking for a place that talked about marketing and story that I believed in and could apply to simple to projects and StoryBrand is that place.
7. Indy Hall Brain Trust
(The December 2020 retreat in Warsaw, Poland)
Indy Hall Brain Trust is a small group of independent coworking space owners from around the world.
We meet online once a month, weekly in slack and once a year for an in-person retreat.
Listen to this podcast for an idea of how we roll – click here.
We deep dive into the inner workings of running a coworking space.
We share everything from managing communities, events, referrals though to security and marketing.
8. Make Your Mark Online
(Make Your Mark Online with Martin and Lyndsay)
The main reason you are reading this is that I’m in this group.
Working on my own, I’ve always struggled with how to run my website, for the last ten years I’ve had a WordPress website.
Most of WordPress I learnt from London Bloggers Meet Up!
Being part of Make Your Mark Online run by Martin and Lindsay has been a total game-changer for me.
I need to add a hat tip to Chris Marr, who first brought us all together with the Content Marketing Academy.
In short, we do a weekly group call on running our WordPress website and a regular 90 Day Challenge for our content.
I’ve been with these people for around three years now and watched people grow, which is a lesson on its own.
One rock-solid example is how designer Col Gray has grown his YouTube channel from scratch to 18K subscribers in three years.
I’ve now got my ‘big person pants’ on about how I run engagingpeople.wpengine.com.
Also, how my website gets me business (it’s easier than you think.)
My site is still a bit of a shit storm, but I know where I am going, and I’m I’ll sort it out.
My fellow MYMO member and digital Sara Bussandri wrote a review of MYMO online here. (This is pretty much word for word what I’d say!)
You’d be welcome to everything listed above, click the links and look around.
Are you in London? A great place to get plugged in is the Meet Ups they are all there on this page HERE.