Last week we introduced some incredible communities.

But what makes a great community vs. a ‘meh’ one?  

Unfortunately there’s a new freelance community daily. Some are great. Some are not.

So how do you know which ones to trust? Or if you want to start one, what ingredients do you need to differentiate?

Below are 4 ingredients we’ve seen in every great community. 

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Ingredient 1: Incredible founder or group of founders that still freelance. 

These founders aren’t thought leaders. They have plenty of scars. Those in their niche (potential clients) turn to them for advice and work. And most important – they still freelance. 

Ingredient 2: Training & Resources.

Let’s face it – 90% of what you need to learn can only be learned through experience.

The other 10% – usually in the form of quantifying a value prop/service offering, pricing templates, scoping & proposal templates, invoice templates, skill specific collateral (design kits), and client communication templates – is where a good community differentiates your freelance business.

 

Ingredient 3: Opportunity matching.

Ingredients 1 & 2 set the scene for good opportunities.

Because of #1, they provide exclusive access to good ops. These are generally the high quality, high dollar amount, and longer length projects. Really good communities also give you access to impressive clients. 

And because of #2,  you have the basics to nail these opportunities.

Ingredient 4: Micro-Community/Segmentation 

The toughest business decision to make is balancing size (immediate revenue impact) vs. engagement (usually immediate impact as cost).

Most communities start with the same mission/vision of a tight-knit community. Then as the community grows, it’s easier to add people at $30 per freelancer than to make sure each freelancer finds value.

Which is where micro-communities come in.

The best communities aren’t just one huge network. The best communities offer micro-networks.

The reason micro-networks are so essential for you, is because these micro-networks become your tribes you’ll collaborate with, refer work back and forth to, and grow together. Like any group, the larger these get, the less personal your experience.

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Bonus: Every community will say they have these ingredients, but how do you truly evaluate? 

Talk with the members.

What if you can’t find any members? Well there’s an answer.

What if you find a member? Are they proud to be part of the community? Has membership led to material value? Do they collaborate with fellow members? Of course – are they still in the community?

Another Bonus: What’s the difference between community and collective? 

Generally communities are larger, while collectives are more focused on job opps. Think of a collective as a group of freelancers running an agency. Collectives are generally more close knit, and might result from members of the same community. 

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CEO of Venture L, Author of The Human Cloud

Matthew R Mottola is a global leader on the Human Cloud - the transition from physical and full time work to digital, remote, independent models.

At Microsoft, in joint partnership with Upwork, he built the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit - the unlock for enterprises to embrace the human cloud at scale - bringing Microsoft from nascent to an industry leader in under two years.

At Gigster, he built Ideation - enabling freelance developers, data scientists, and product managers to consistently generate what should be built in the software development lifecycle.

His work has been featured by Forbes and Fortune to name a few. He is an international keynote speaker, speaking at leading conferences Remote Work Summit and YPO’s Innovation Week to name a few. He is the author of StartUp Not StartDown, upcoming book The Human Cloud, and contributor to leading industry reports.