The perception of life as a freelancer is changing. The U.S. is moving into a new economy where freelancing is a viable option for workers in many industries and occupations. And the numbers don’t lie: A 2015 study commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork found that nearly 54 million American workers — or one-third — freelance, with 60 percent of freelancers having started doing so by choice.
And I’m proud to be one of them.
Taking the leap into freelancing more than three years ago is one of the best professional decisions I’ve made. My journey is unique — as all paths to solopreneurship are. I enjoyed working at communications agencies, and a brief stint at a local media company, for nearly six years before taking on side gigs to scratch the entrepreneurial itch. After eight hardworking, inspiring and opportunity-revealing months, I quit my job to pursue the freelance life full-time. And I haven’t looked back since.
As one would expect, my success to-date can be attributed to many things, including career experience prior to going solo, a solid network of colleagues and clients, higher and ongoing education, a supportive spouse and, let’s be honest, crazy amounts of ambition.
On freelancing in Sacramento:
“The openness to connect with other people, combined with access to opportunities – political causes, associations, geographical destinations – allows freelancers to be a growing part of the business community in Sacramento.”
Kristen Lowrey Larson, travel advisor and social media consultant
“Sacramento’s workforce includes many entrepreneurial or small to mid-sized businesses … those companies don’t usually have the ability to hire w2 employees with benefits for specific skills like media relations, copywriting, strategy, etc. The business needs still remain so freelancers are a natural fit.”
Trish Moratto, communications consultant
“Sacramento is very much a ‘who you know’ town, so I’d say having a strong network is a plus because a lot of work can come from referrals.”
Kachet Jackson-Henderson, independent marketing professional
“There are a plethora of good coffee shops and lots of creative events, markets and pop-up shops; creativity is celebrated in Sacramento.”
Ashlee Gadd, writer and photographer
“Sacramento has collaborative work spaces and a number of local coffee shops and restaurants that can double as a mobile office that make it attractive for freelance consultants to work anytime, anywhere.”Christina Kiefer, public relations practitioner
But also: Sacramento.
Sure, you can pursue a freelance career from anywhere. It’s actually one of the greatest benefits of freelancing and a main reason why workers take the leap: greater freedom and increased flexibility — not just in where you work but also in who you work with, what projects you work on and how much money you make.
Lucky for us freelancers in the Capital Region, we also have Sacramento.
Work Anywhere. A home office is a great way to establish a set working area, but not being tied to a desk all day is one freelancing perk. Good thing endless options exist for freelancers to post up at a local coffee shop or restaurant and get to work. Places like Temple Coffee Roasters and Café Bernardo, two of my personal favorites, offer a casual indoor/outdoor atmosphere for efficient working, while enjoying some of the yummiest coffee, food and drinks around town.
Coworking. An alternative to working anywhere — with electrical outlets, creative vibes, a somewhat distraction-free environment and Wi-Fi — are coworking locations like The Urban Hive or The Trade Coffee & Coworking, which provide freelancers the opportunity to work in a collaborative and professional environment with like-minded colleagues for a monthly membership or drop-in fee. Some have access to mailboxes, office supplies and other small-business essentials, along with options for a private office, dedicated desk or use of a conference room to collaborate with clients and coworkers.
Creative Energy. From thought-provoking events like TEDxSacramento to artistic experiences like Concerts In The Park in downtown, to neighborhood food events like Gather in Oak Park, creativity is booming in Sacramento. And for many freelancers, the desire to create is our common denominator. Creativity is all about having resourcefulness in your working style, imaginativeness in your projects, talent in your skillset, inspiration in your ability to build a successful business and originality in your work. We can feed off local creative energy and use it in our business.
Networking and Learning Opportunities. There’s the saying: “It’s not about what you know. It’s who you know.” Although I think it most definitely is about what you know, it also is about who you know. In my experience, Sacramento is full of intelligent professionals, go-getters, creative spirits, inspiring influencers, movers and shakers, and fellow freelancers. Get out there and connect with one another, learn from one another. Attend as many association networking events or educational forums, like the In The Mix or EDGEucational Forum events hosted by Metro EDGE, as you can — you never know what you’ll learn, who you’ll meet and where that connection will take you.
Beyond the Office. Sacramento is chockfull of fun things to do, so embrace being your own boss and play hooky once in awhile. Plan a day to get “out of the office” and off the grid to rejuvenate, relax and recuperate. Take a yoga class at Zuda Yoga in midtown, stop by new eateries for happy hour, visit the farmers market at Fremont Park on Tuesdays or read a book at Cesar Chavez Plaza in the middle of a workday. Work hard, play hard, my friends.
The truth is: This list could go on and on. Sacramento is the heart of the Capital Region, and an ideal city for freelancers — even for those of us who don’t call the city itself home (I live in Folsom, but am always coworking and networking in Sacramento). Whether you’re considering a freelance career down the road, are dabbling in side gigs, have recently taken the leap into full-time freelancing, or are already an established freelancer, make Sacramento your hub for all things business by taking advantage of all the city has to offer — community, resources and support.