Why I decided to launch a Freelancing Community
The Internet doesn’t need more content, what it needs are more connections. In the 20 years that I have spent online, I have watched the internet go from an information ecology to a museum of social expression, to where it is now- a mechanism of power.
With the growth of governments and businesses online, came the decline of content, flood of information, and a growing need for violent self-expression. The Internet is quickly becoming parts of our lives and, yes, I believe there is a sweet-spot that exists between the ‘real-world’ and the virtual world of the Internet. The problem is, most people are not able to successfully locate this place, and/or thrive in it.
Where I Fit In This Equation
As an early adopter of social media, participating in mIRC chat rooms, and mega communities before the current giants of Twitter and Facebook, I have become well-versed in the culture of the Internet.
Yes, the Internet has a culture. Although we see it as a host for our content, it also has the ability to create based on the data we are providing. We are feeding the internet our experiences, and in exchange, it gives us a new one. Those who understand this culture know exactly what data to supply to receive the desired results. This holds true for all types of online activities, from internet research to internet marketing. To be successful online, you need more than data and basic coding skills, you need a mindset.
Our Worlds Are Connected
When I started connecting with others online, there was a clear line between reality and what occurred on my computer screen. There were no videos, there were few pictures, and audio was very choppy. I could leave whenever I wanted, and it took a while to get to the internet. Having to dial up, made me anticipate entering this magical, more perfect world.
Now the Internet is part of my reality. I go to a restaurant; they are advertising their Facebook. I turn on my television; the news is showing a picture of a tweet. The person standing next to me is live streaming on Periscope.There is no line between ‘reality and the Internet; In today’s world, you must survive in both.
The Creatives Will Get Left Behind
When the Internet was young, it was a safe place for creatives to find themselves. Anyone with passion, basic knowledge, and internet access could instantly find a community of like-minded people online. Best of all, you didn’t need a lot of money or intelligence. You only needed just enough to run a computer and pay for the internet service.
Technology has since removed that qualifier. Children can now browse YouTube before they can read, and grandparents torment their grandchildren by stalking their Facebook posts. Perhaps, most noticeable is the fact that the Internet has been flooded with people looking for opportunity. Businesses replace the voice of the individual. The everyday creative cannot compete with the huge marketing and technology budgets of heavily funded startups.
How I Will Help
In 2015, I began coaching freelance writers who were looking to build their online business. This year, I am committing to doing more. I am relaunching my company, Freelance America, as a community for American-based freelancers who are seeking to connect with the world on their own terms. Sure there are plenty of online companies that provide services to freelancers at a fee, and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here — because these systems work. I also chose to focus on American freelancers, because I am American, and for years, I have watched freelancers in other countries enjoy a camaraderie that this country seems to lack.
Regardless of the many programs in place, there are many people who simply don’t want to pay 10–15% of their earnings to some nameless corporation. They also don’t wish to spend all of their energy trying to make Google love them. They, instead, want to create and be compensated for their skill. Freelance America (more specifically, Autonoma, our members-only online community) is the place where dedicated freelance creatives can talk with potential employers as well as other freelancers. It’s a community that is subject to community rules and expectations, but it is also a social network that encourages connections. When used effectively, it will be a powerful form of marketing for any online freelancer.
In bold, internet fashion, I plan to create a home for every American freelancer that is truly looking for an opportunity to connect with someone that values their work. If you’re ready to join in, come join us.