Network and support for freelancers

1268046_10102069884870981_1769739499_oGuest blogger: Elle Toussi

Nearly one in three working Americans is an independent worker. Wow! That statistic from the Freelancers Union website can make you stop in your tracks and take a moment to reflect.  Looking at just the United States, that is an extensive number of people who are deciding to be independent and they come from all walks of life and industries.

Making the decision to go freelance can be a daunting and scary decision to make. Will I have stability? What about healthcare? What happens with my retirement? My 401k? There are lots of questions to address. For those here in the Freelance Community at SPJ you already know the importance of one very important element in the world of freelance: network.

Being a freelancer can be a very lonely process, so making sure to be a member of organizations that create a community within your industry or craft is important. These groups help foster support. I have found that to be key.

One group that has helped is the Freelancers Union. I’ve taken on the task to be a co-leader for their monthly Spark events in Los Angeles. This is where they host a monthly gathering of freelancers and as they say, “Learn stuff. Find your spark.” On the first Wednesday of every month there is a new topic to be explored and Spark events take place in over 18 cities nationwide.

It’s always important to weigh the benefits of joining another organization or group, but let’s see if I can break it down for you.

It’s Free. Yes, you heard that right. To be a member of the Freelancers Union comes with no cost. No annual payment. Just simply join the network and like every organization or group… you get what you give. So really be active and participate in all the organization has to offer.

Benefits. Trying to navigate through health, dental, disability, life and liability insurance can be overwhelming. The Union has figured a way to make sure no independent worker is left behind when it comes to these important benefits. You too can figure out a way to save for retirement and you can get help with the process.

Network. Take a moment once a month to gather with fellow freelancers at a local Spark Workshop event where you can network and learn. You never know when you will connect with someone that will create a lasting friendship or a possible work collaboration. There is nothing more important than your network, especially as a freelancer.

Discounts. Independent workers with the Freelancers Union can take part in special discounts from companies, products, co-working places and much more.

Resources. You need help creating a contract? That’s great, you can create a custom contract with the Union here. You need help with taxes? That is definitely something to take into consideration when going freelance and the step-by-steps are available on the website. For example these tax-saving tips here. The blog is also a great place to look up different topics and tips & tricks. Chances are there is something you need help with and there is something already posted that can help you.

Don’t just take my word for it. October 7th is the next Spark Event covering, “Make Your Contract Your Best Business Ally.” Sign up to an event near you and check out to see what all the fuss is about. You might find yourself inspired and going every month.

Elle Toussi is an innovative cross-platform journalist, with more than four years of experience reporting on the film industry, the Middle East and all matters pertaining to Southern California. She has trained under the guidance and mentorship of award-winning journalists at CNN, NBC Los Angeles, KTLA, Screen International and USA Today. She has also freelanced for National Geographic Channels.

Currently bi-coastal, she plans to continue her coverage of Middle Eastern affairs after her time in Jordan where she was immersed in the Syrian refugee situation in 2014. It even inspired the creation of her non-profit, In One Minute, where she plans to use the power of mobile technology and philanthropy to meet specific needs of women around the world. The non-profit organization provides stories of women by giving them a platform to tell their story. Helping one woman at a time, one minute at a time. 

Toussi is an Iranian-American born and raised in Southern California. Her passion for covering Middle Eastern matters and the role of immigrants in the Southern California region is inspired and largely due to her upbringing by her hardworking immigrant parents that relocated to California many years ago. She currently contributes to CBS Local, AXS online and has contributed to Screen International and Examiner. Stay tuned for her latest work on elletoussi.com

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