When the word ‘freelancer’ is brought into discourse, what comes to mind is a lone ranger who seeks to achieve tasks and satisfy clients all by himself within a specified time.
The freelancer’s focus is to beat the deadline or deliver on an agreed day and move to the next project while scavenging for other job opportunities. There is usually no personal assistant and no helping hand, and he/she does most things himself.
It’s a competitive world unless you are good at what you do and can communicate it well. And even then, there’s always someone else who can deliver a similar service to yours at a lower price. This is a constant challenge of freelancing as a deliberate career choice. And as a freelance writer in Nigeria, the struggle is real.
First, you have to ensure you are accessible online, productively booked, and then you create work as fast as you can. There is this constant fear of running out when there’s the minimum balance in your bank account. The hustle is a round-the-clock experience.
In my experience, there has been little time to network or collaborate effectively. I’m often concerned about the next freelancer stealing my clients. In my book, there’s no trust and everyone is suspect.
But is it worth it? This whole lone-ranger mentality. Sooner or later, there comes the need to step out and work with others. It’s inevitable.
In the words of John Obidi, thought leader and social media strategist: “Leave your chop alone mentality in 2018.” What Obidi is saying here cuts across all levels of freelancing, career and business: Alone you can go fast, but with others, you will go far.
I love this quote and intend to hold on to it. First, it explains that no man is an island. And even if you’re a genius and workaholic, you can’t go very far on your own. You can’t move further than your head can carry you — Nigerian lingo meaning you need people.
It’s this need for collaboration that inspires hubs and co-working spaces springing up even in smaller cities across Africa.
In many of these spaces in Nigeria, we are beginning to see the organic growth of active, supportive communities and networking platforms for freelancers, remote workers and entrepreneurs to not only collaborate but also learn new skills, plug into opportunities, collaborate and get work done.
As freelancers, our relevance, credibility and exposure are dependent on how well we package, communicate and deliver our services. In 2019, I’ve made it my goal to leave the ‘chop alone’ mentality behind because effective collaboration takes nothing away but gives everything in return.