Don’t Try This At Home: The importance of community for freelancers
When they found me I was out cold, my head in the cat bed. My laptop cord was caught in my belt buckle and snaked around the leg of the couch, through the middle of a pile of books, and under a music stand lying on its side. No one had seen me for days, but that wasn’t at all unusual. After all, I worked from home. If it wasn’t for the cats, I might have been there for weeks. They kindly called 911 an hour later when they got too hungry to wait for me to recover from my fall. Who knew that opposable thumbs aren’t required to use smartphones?
Now is the time when I have to tell you that none of that actually happened. And if you believed me, I guess I’m a better writer than I thought. But the important thing is it could have, had I not moved my copywriting business to the Bond Collective in September of last year.
I’m a saxophonist, composer, writer, and owner of CopyAnimal. I use the musical art of listening to amplify the story behind your message. And even though being a great copywriter means an inherent susceptibility to the seductive power of words, the “work from home” myth had lost its luster.
Furtively clutching my laptop in a coffeehouse just wouldn’t do either. Too many loud conversations. Too much bad music. An unspoken time limit enforced by a soul withering look from management.
The biggest illusion of work from home “freedom” is one I think New Yorkers are especially vulnerable to. Typing away in your garret or in a café corner, surrounded by people or the noise of people on the street below, is not the same as community.
When I officially became a member of the Bond Collective, I made an investment in my business that paid off almost immediately. September was my best month ever, in part because having an official space carved out for my business allowed me to focus in a way that writing on the couch did not..
I’m delighted to say that I also found the community I’ve been seeking. Some of that community is of the four-legged variety, with the canines of the Bond Collective providing a dose of happy dog to lighten the stress of a deadline. But I’ve also met lots of creative and interesting people, and some of them became my clients.
Working with other Bond Collective members offers me something many copywriters don’t get to see – the continuing story and impact of the work I do. I wrote the website copy for kindness.org as they launched their website in beta, and then to the world. My ongoing relationship with them means I can have a thoughtful, ever-evolving approach to their brand voice as they expand their reach and make it simple to choose kindness. I recently wrote my first editorial for Soundfly’s online magazine Flypaper, and also write occasional copy for the Bond Collective.
In December, I upgraded my membership to a dedicated desk, and am thrilled to have a place to call my own. I still work from the couch at home now and then and take early morning calls from my favorite chair, hoping I don’t look like I just woke up. But my desk with its carefully curated small plastic penguin, cork board and drafting lamp is here whenever I choose. And the plethora of greetings from my fellow coworkers when I come into the office makes me feel that I’m part of a true creative community.
About the Author:
Say hello to Sarah! You can find her at copyanimal.com.
Sarah Manning is a saxophonist, composer, writer and artist empathist. She fights for creative sustainability by building empathy between artist and fan through performing, writing and speaking. She has released four critically acclaimed albums and currently leads the band Underworld Alchemy with Briggan Krauss on guitar, Simon Jermyn on electric bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Her most recent release, Harmonious Creature (Posi-Tone 2014) received 4 stars in DownBeat Magazine and was chosen as a top ten jazz album of 2014 by the LA Times. In addition to a Fellowship in Composition from the MacDowell Colony in 2012, she has received grants from the Northampton Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation to support performance residencies that break down the barrier between artist and audience. Her musical career has been dedicated to finding an individual voice in the music, and she takes that approach as a writer by listening and amplifying the unique voices of her clients. Her December 2015 essay titled "The Pomplamoose Problem: Artists Can’t Survive as Saints and Martyrs", went viral on social media and reached an audience of over one hundred thousand at her blog, www.artistempathy.com. She is most often found with a cat, a saxophone, or a coffee (and on a good day, all three at the same time).
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