If the unexpected turn of events throughout 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the old adage that there is strength found in numbers. While freelancing is often considered a solo industry, approaching this field with a team mindset and strategy can pay off in dividends.
Rather than pursuing contracts and clients, highly-skilled professionals can join forces to meet several needs. As we look to the future of digital networking and the ability to connect online, teamlancing provides a positive outlook and perspective, since most gigs can be pursued, secured, and executed online.
10 ways teamlancing is the new digital networking
As the independent contractor sector continues to boom, hopping on the teamlance trend will only mean more clients, more work, and ultimately, a thriving, robust community. Here, experts shed insight on this growing opportunity.
1. You can work for yourself — but not by yourself when teamlancing.
As the founder of Breakaway Bookkeeping + Advising, a fully-remote company, Martin Moll has experienced the power of teamlancing firsthand. They frequently discuss the concept of working for yourself, not by yourself, a fundamental part of the teamlance perspective. When it’s effective, this strategy allows you to take advantage of both worlds — the intellectual capital and strength of a large firm and the creativity and economics of a solo practitioner. Sounds great, right?
2. You choose who you tie your career to.
Despite being around for decades, communications and social psychology expert Joanna Dodd Massey, Ph.D., says the teamlancing concept is ripe for breaking out into the mainstream because of the popularity of freelancing with Millennials and Gen Z:
“These two younger generations prefer nontraditional ways of working and value a positive environment with good relationships, which isn’t always possible in a corporate environment where people can’t choose their co-workers.”
By having the autonomy to work with whomever you want and who you believe shares your same ethic and values, you create a positive day-to-day dynamic that fosters growth and productivity.
3. You open more doors with teamlancing.
For decades, marketing expert Susan Gold has adopted a teamlancing perspective toward her business. By pairing together with like-minded professionals who can deliver on their niches, she’s built a robust, sustainable income stream. Attracting clients takes dedication and constant funnel-building, which can be exhausting when you’re a part of one.
However, with a teamlancing approach to networking, Gold says you’ll open more doors by the sheer nature of access at your fingertips. As a team, you can work cohesively toward a shared goal, all while doing what you love. Win-win!
“While usually being a sole hire as an individual freelancer, one may find they are in an isolated ‘cubicle’ so to speak. Being a teamlancer takes one right to a large conference room table filled with relatable and like-minded professionals that are all part of the same group working for the same cause. The sense of community is indigenous, and relationships that may prove lasting, much more naturally prevalent and expansive.”
Here, what a teamlance might include:
- A public relations executive to represent the client
- A writer to write all materials
- A graphic designer to create a brand image
- A web developer to cultivate an online presence
- A social media expert to gather a community
4. You can expand your offerings to clients.
For any freelancer, retention is a cornerstone of their business. Considering how much time it takes to educate yourself on a client, understand their tone and their perspective, and then help them meet their objectives, no one wants to have a one-month contract. However, sometimes clients go to other freelancers or agencies because they have multiple needs to be met.
With a teamlance perspective, Moll says you can expand your offerings instantly, creating invaluable digital networking opportunities.
As he puts it, teamlancers can create highly customized deliverables that genuinely take advantage of their own unique skills and the specific needs of their clients:
“Yet, at the same time, they also harness the collective wisdom and energy of our larger team, who are all fellow travelers on the same journey to bring joy to our industry. The result is an intelligent, connected world. At our company, this leads to a better product for our clients and a much higher job satisfaction for our advisors.”
5. You have control paired with collaboration.
Take this example from Massey on how a teamlance situation could work: a publicist secures a client. As part of their contract, they promise to locate a marketing executive, a content writer, a social media expert, and a graphic designer.
With all on board, everyone can begin work, complete the project, and get paid. But, they have control over their areas of the deliverables. This gives them the perks of collaboration without any of the messy details of the compromise. “Each person has their contacts, which they use to bring in clients that are then used to grow the client work for each person in the business power sphere, or teamlance,” she adds.
6. You have built-in recommendations.
Ask any freelancer who has been in business for a few months or many years, and they’ll say word-of-mouth remains one of the most powerful forms of referral. When you’re part of a teamlance, recommendations are a built-in benefit, according to Gold.
How so? You’ll be the first to know because your circle is interconnected and focused on creating new opportunities for all.
As Gold notes:
“Imagine you’re part of an entire team of people who continually have their ear to the ground regarding work opportunities and their knowledge automatically trickles down through the group opening up new business opportunities and casting a wider net for each individual as well as the group as a collective whole. That’s a teamlance.”
7. You can take on larger and higher-paying clients.
As a team of one, signing on to complete a mega-sized proposal for a household-name client can be intimidating. Since so much of a freelance business is based on past clients, referrals, and your recommendations, the very thought of ‘dropping the ball’ can send any professional into panic mode.
Reva Minkoff, the founder and president of Digital4Startups, Inc., says teamlancing is the solution to bringing in more significant, better — and more lucrative — opportunities:
“Teamlancing can give you access to larger-sized clients whose needs wouldn’t be able to be fulfilled by a sole provider. We teamlanced with three other amazing women to win a project for a large publicly traded company because we were able to offer more services and resources than any one of us would’ve been able to offer individually.”
8. You save time.
When you aren’t entirely responsible for every leg of a project, you can celebrate your own strengths and well, show them off. This can be a game-changer for your hourly output rate.
As marketing professional and entrepreneur Rachel Champlin explains, gathering freelancers to tackle a client’s needs saves everyone energy and time — including the brand hiring your gang:
“The client doesn’t have to search for an expert, you get to work with someone you trust, and you can then use saved time to work on new projects that grow your overall business.”
Many freelancers struggle with the concept of outsourcing their work, since many didn’t go out on their own to start a company. You can think of teamlancing as the next step: You no longer work only by yourself, but you aren’t quite ready to hire a full-time employee. The digital agency approach allows you time to really think about your larger goals, and the various ways you can scale.
9. And you save money.
Twenty years ago, when she started her business, marketing professional Stacia Pratt knew she wanted to have a teamlance approach.
Throughout the past two decades, she’s found several ways this strategy has impacted her bottom line and expanded her network:
- She maintains a small amount of overhead.
- She keeps her administrative costs low.
- She can work with anyone, from anywhere, without an office.
- She connects with experts across various functions and pays them their fair rate, from graphic designers and photographers to SEO specialists.
Since she doesn’t have to invest her finances into learning new skills, she ultimately brings home more cash by adopting a team attitude, rather than maintaining a solo venture.
10. You are more productive.
When you are an expert and have a specific skill set, such as public relations, Pratt says the ability to segue among a variety of industries makes the life as a freelancer much more interesting. And, it makes your work more productive, since you’re only tasked with particular responsibilities.
In general, Pratt says she’s found teamlancing to be much more streamlined and effective since all individuals have a personal stake in a project’s success:
“Teamlancing enables a professional to handpick their A-Team for each client, so it’s a very positive and energetic environment.”