When I started to dive into the freelance graphic design world, I had no idea what I was doing. And I mean I really had no idea what I was doing. Thank God for the internet.
I threw out lines on social media offering my services to my modest network, and slowly but surely got some bites, nothing crazy. I didn't really have any idea how I would actually grow this into an actual business. But on one fateful summer day I stumbled upon a meetup that was hosted at a coworking space in my town. Wait, in MY TOWN?! I had heard of these shared office space environments before but never expected one to be less than two miles from my front door.
I won't sensationalize this - it's a small, modest space. It isn't an edgy, hipster coworking space like you see in major entrepreneurial cities, with exposed brick and high ceilings and interesting furniture (which are awesome by the way). It's a simple space for people who are tired of working at home alone, for people like me!
And it has turned my pipe dream of running a successful design business into a reality. Some coworking spaces have lots of infrastructure to help startups and new businesses take off, we call them incubators. Those are fantastic, but we don't have that. All we have is people. Really interesting, weird, and awesome people.
I've learned so much from my experience at this space, but I'd like to share just a few highlights:
1. People are amazing. When I became a member at this coworking space, it was predominately for social reasons - I'm a strong extrovert and I just needed to get out of the house and interact with more people every day. I thought I might get some projects from other members but I really didn't have any expectations for how it would affect my business. The people here have walked me through every challenge of starting my own business - from difficult clients to self-employment taxes to becoming an LLC. They selflessly give me their time and advice to help me succeed. People are amazing.
2. I have a lot to learn. I knew this when I started, but it's easy when you have little successes to think you've got this whole thing down. But when you're surrounded by people who know so much about things that you haven't even heard of before, you realize that there is so much you have to learn. I have learned oodles and oodles about things from web development to business strategy to video production, and I like to think that I have contributed to helping those around me learn as well.
3. Networking is not just about giving out your business card. You can give out your card to 50 people at a networking event and never hear from any of those people if you never make a real connection with them. Coworking is like a constant networking opportunity, except that I get to SHOW people what I do and how I do it every day, and vice versa. Human connection has proven to be the best tool for growing my business, surprise!