What freelancers really need - How can technology help freelancers to thrive and where do we desperately need to improve?

Thank you very much @bxdcomm, @Danifrim and @matthewmottola for a great conversation!

I want to note down a few points here already since the summary post will take a few days:

  1. The main move now necessary to increase the impact and effectiveness of freelancing and to grow the space in a healthy way would be to focus on enabling teamwork and collaboration between freelancers. Today the big platforms and tools are built for companies, not for networks of freelancers.
  2. To start ou there are many free tools and learning platforms, but the more you professionalize, the more you will gravitate to whichever tool does it best.
  3. there are different types of “monopoles”, some are through merit, some through lack of alternative. The former seem acceptable, the later unavoidable for a single freelancer.
  4. Our thought experiment about what type of tools we would wish to lead us to:
    • Something that bundles different communication platforms so that one can have all conversations with collaborators and clients listed together in one place no matter which platforms and tools they are using on their side.
    • A tool that also generates a comprehensible story of your previous conversations, issues and solutions with a certain collaborator to keep track of your collaboration history.
  5. Collaboration over Competition as in point 1, is the future in freelancing to focus on collaboration? leading from this I just was thinking further: How could freelancer organise? Would it make sense to have freelancer unions? Would that be possible? Would that make any sense? In different disciplines or even across?
  6. Freelancing has been on the rise in the last few years, but Covis has increased this development. This makes solving the challenges faced by freelancers not only more pressing but also more attractive.

If you have any concrete recommendations or comments you would like to add, please do so!

More will follow soon.

Freelancer unions: https://www.freelancersunion.org/

Cryptpad for archive and collaborative document edit purpose, Trello for teamwork and evernote for note-taking. Mindmeister is useful for mindmapping, but not fully freeware. Could recommend Gephi for social network visualization and mapping, also
open-source.

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As Maria points out, @matthewmottola made the observation that he has projects where he works with other freelancers. He laments that there is not a good software suite designed for his purposes when it comes to working with other freelancers. Specifically he noted that the problem arises when he wants to share certain files and documents and details with the others, but doesn’t want to share everything. The problem with selectivity causes problems. (I think I am saying this correctly.)

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I think Trello and Slack would partly solve this problem since they both allow selective sharing and work with multilayered colab work. Of course, the interface usability is a personal issue.

Useful points, thanks @MariaEuler. How about coops like Faircoop that aim to create decent labor conditions for freelancers as a complement to unions? Any freelancer unions in mind for other geographies? The one in your notes is based in the US.

Good point @atelli - unfortunately the permissioning in project management tools like Trello/Asana/Notion don’t do this well when team members are temporary in nature. They’re great with full time remote teams, but not environments where members need access in days or weeks, or when members need restrictive access like just one task.

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You can find a summary of the event here: "Collaboration over Competition" - freelancer technology event follow up article #1

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This article is based on the Freelancing & Technology event that took place on the 22nd of October 2020. This is the first topical summary of this event. The focus is Collaboration (Technology) for freelancers

The panel speakers were: Matthew Mottola , Dani Ifrim , Nicole Gray

Collaboration over Competition

Matthew Mottola : One can do it all - but that is just the start

We started the conversation with a statement by Matthew Mottola (Author of the book “Human Cloud - How Today’s Changemakers Use Artificial Intelligence and the Freelance Economy to Transform Work” ( you can reach him here @matthewmottola)) about what the big “game changers” in terms of freelancing technology have been up to this point. “Technology that enables individuals to do the work that has previously been done by whole companies” has enabled freelancers to run their own professional businesses without dedicated HR or accountant staff. He also pointed out tools for processing payments internationally and contract signing, which while less obvious than project management tools have had a huge impact on the development of the current freelancer economy.
The obvious project management tools have enabled freelancers to actually work with companies.
Matthew sees the upcoming game-changers as tools that would enable freelancers to take on complex tasks and work together with other freelancers.
In regards to open source solutions, he does not think that companies/clients will ever buy into the co-ownership models that this would entail, or those solutions working at scale, but he sees the underlying ethos of open source as relevant for the development of freelancer to freelancer collaboration culture.
He ended up with the analysis that what would be needed next would be:

  1. One platform for freelancers which gives them actual ownership over their information, so they are not forced to switch and stretch themselves thing across multiple platforms. This is actually what he is working on with his current project.
  2. Enabling the collaboration between multiple freelancers, going beyond this initial “one person can do it all” idea to one person can work with everyone.

Dani Ifrim : Learning what you want
Dani Ifrim (you can reach him here @Danifrim) addressed the realities of working as a freelancer in the creative industry. Certain tools are necessary in this field, for example from adobe creative suite, but he still sees a lot of movement in this context as the best program ends up to be the one used. In his opinion, in the creative field the biggest programmes are usually also the best, and he would wish for even better compatibility between the tools.
Dani, who is now working as a photographer and web developer, had originally an education in mechanical engineering. He stresses the amazing platforms that are available to learn skills online as you need them to develop yourself and your practice. "All that I learned, I learned from Youtube and Skillshare."
In this phase, open-source programs are very relevant, but once a person professionalized they move towards the program that works best. There are a few examples, like Blender, where a developer commits both to opensource and best quality, but that is an exception.

"Personally I feel very lucky to live in the time that I live. Maybe sometimes it is too overwhelming, but you just have to put in some work in analysing what suits you best and yes, just do it." - Dani’s optimistic and encouraging closing statement.

Nicole Gray : Community and Communication
Nicole Gray is the founder and facilitator of a community for freelancers. (You can contact here @bxdcomm). She sees the main game-changer for her self and many of her community members to be “notion”.
The challenge with each new piece of technology you use is the learning curve, which is why most people go to the big monopolies because they do not want to potentially sink the costs of learning a new piece of software. Personally here again she has had good experiences with the Notion, Gmail platforms and Slack, but Zoom turns out to be the most important as it enables face to face engagement.
In this time, a large number of people have been forced to change quickly from a tradition fulltime job into a freelance position. “What can help with this challenging transition can be a likeminded community.” She would call a good online community a tool in this sense as it is integral. She has observed that especially new freelancers enjoyed virtually coworking sessions in her community.
Freelancers have to constantly test their messaging and communication their “brand” to develop.
Nicole stresses that building community is key.

A thought experiment:

What would you wish into existence?

  • Something solving the problem for document access, as all the tools currently are developed for company teams, not for multiple freelancers that have different levels of access. Data shows most freelancers waste half their time with admin work like requesting access.
  • A tool that merges different communication platforms like Messenger, Slack, email, Discord, WhatsApp etc. into one interface for you, collecting all the communications with each person and also allowing everyone to use the type of platform they want to use for technical or ethical reasons without having the freelancers “communication application diet” explode.
  • “push a button and get working” to share the access and tasks with everyone according to what they need to be doing, and alongside this for the system to keep a record of the skills, needs and your history with each collaborator.

Closing statement: Collaboration over Competition

Nicole formulated the closing statement “Collaboration over Competition” which was seconded by everyone.
This is a great jumping-off point to discuss the future development of freelancing and tech to enable collaboration between multiple freelancers.

Freelancing has been on the rise over the last few years, but Covid has increased this development. This makes solving the challenges faced by freelancers not only more pressing but also more attractive.

So we ask:

How could freelancer organise? What about freelancer unions? In different disciplines or even across?

Which tool/service/platform would you “wish into existence”, if you could, to improve your work as a freelancer?

Awesome! What is the right link to share this with?

use this: https://edgeryders.eu/t/14488
`

Where is there more about this?

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you should ask @matthewmottola about this.

Hey @johncoate - happy to follow up here. You can find our site here: https://venturel.io/

It’s a fundamental reboot in an operating system that freelancers can build their business with. Specifically the operating system does 3 things better than any existing solution:

  1. Visibility across the workflow - knowing what needs to get done, by when, and who’s on it
  2. Integration - Pulling those 10+ tools freelancers need into one place. NOT replacing tools, but integrating.
  3. Collaboration - specifically freelancer to freelancer communication, task management, file sharing, etc

Right now we’re building feature by feature with a select group of freelancers.

Happy to follow up with any questions - you can ping me faster at matthew@venturel.io

Thanks @MariaEuler!!!

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Thanks. And I like the design of your site by the way. Nicely laid out.

Thanks John!

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This is dope @matthewmottola !

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I just recognised that I gave you the wrong link:

this is the right one

On the 9th of December 18:30 to 19:30 psychologist Erik Bohjort joins for an AMA.

  • Would you wish you could change your own behaviour sometimes?
  • Are you wondering how much technology is actually ok for your children, and if and how they can learn with digital tools?
  • Are you developing an app, website, project to change and improve the world, and want to know how to best influence behaviour or how to nudge?
  • Do you have your own insights and/or issues (2020 has been hard on everyone…) you just really would like to discuss with a psychologist?

Then you are in luck!

Erik (@Bohjort) is a Psychologist at PBM working in the field of Behavioural Insights.
His background also includes experience as the Head of Research at Gimi AB (an educational FinTech application to teach financial literacy to children) and as a Psychologist at Akademiska Sjukhuset in the Neuropsychiatric Unit.

His research explores topics such as:

Behaviour change, Digital education, Behavioural insights, Nudging, Psychology

For one hour he will be available to answer all of your questions and engage in discussions, conversations and maybe even a bit of therapy with you.

Register here to get a reminder before the event and join the AMA chat.

The live chat will happen here, where Erik personally introduced himself:

To everyone who had joined this session last year:

Our ethnographer team has launched a question about how employers deal with applicants and the effects of that on our perception of time, work and self-worth.

Your insights and opinions on that would be very welcome!