Are you advertising for the direct competition? Although I find that the online community is generally more open than the conventional corporate world, there is something to be said about openly promoting the work of other freelancers and online entrepreneurs, especially if they are targeting the same market that you are.
The relationship between many freelance writers may not quite be the same as the relationship between Coke and Pepsi (depicted above), but you are still competing for clients and freelance projects. By speaking of other freelance writers in a favorable light, are you harming your freelance writing business? Or is it a positive practice for everyone involved?
The Other Side of Networking
Working from home as a freelance writer can be fairly lonely experience, because you typically work alone for most hours of the day. There are ways to overcome the lack of co-worker camaraderie, however, like attending a series of networking events in your area or simply communicating with other freelance writers through blogging and Twitter.
On the one hand, there are certainly advantages to networking with other like-minded individuals. You can exchange advice on how to run your business, how to deal with difficult clients, and where to look for work. You can also make some great friends along the way and gain referrals. On the other hand, these exchanges could be taking away from your business. In the words of Neil Patel, you could be giving other freelancers an opportunity to steal your fish. While it’s nice to teach others how to fish, you need to catch a few of your own too.
How I Advertise Other Freelancers
In general, I use two techniques for advertising the work of other freelancers. First, I occasionally link to the blogs of other freelance writers in my weekly What’s Up Wednesdays posts. I’ll highlight some of the articles that they may have written in the previous week, largely on the business of freelance writing and working from home.
Second, I may occasionally refer potential clients to other freelancers. There are a number of reasons why I would choose to do this. Perhaps I am particularly swamped at the time a potential customer approaches me, so I’ll direct them to another freelancer who I feel is well-suited for the job.
Alternatively, the incoming project may not fall within my realm of expertise or range of services, so I’ll refer the customer to someone who is more knowledgeable on the topic. This was the case a while ago when I referred a customer, who had a finance and commerce-minded project, to Chris Bibey. I’m not exactly an expert on Wall Street, so I thought Chris would be a better fit.
Self-Destructive or Mutual Benefit?
Networking and openly promoting other freelance writers is surely a double-edged sword. You can build a great sense of community and camaraderie, helping one another out with various issues and sending work back and forth. On the flip side, this practice can be terribly destructive, because you could be sending many potential clients to “the other guy” rather than working to expand your own business.
In the end, I feel that so long as the relationship is reciprocal and both parties are benefiting from the relationship, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to networking with other freelance writers. You may lose a few customers along the way, but if you are confident in your abilities, you should be able to gain a few too. Both parties can increase their knowledge, improve their respective businesses, and ultimately benefit from the mutual referrals.
What’s your take? If you run your own freelance business, do you ever refer customers to someone else? Do other freelancers ever refer business your way too?