Share the love with your freelancer network

Tom N. Tumbusch 2014About a week before the Thanksgiving holiday I had an additional reason to be thankful — a bit of extra cash I didn’t have to do a lick of work for.

Okay, that’s not completely accurate. I did do one small thing to earn this “free money.” I hit the forward button in my email app.

A few months earlier, I received an email inquiry from a client I had worked with once or twice before. I liked the client, had a good experience working with her, and this opportunity was bigger than the job we had done before.

But as good as it sounded, I knew it wasn’t quite right for me.

The gig really needed a writer who specialized in healthcare — a field I don’t have much background in. So I did the best thing I could do for the client: I introduced her to another writer friend, who I’ll call Liesl (since that happens to be her name). Liesl knows healthcare inside and out, and I knew she’d be able to do a better job than I could.

Liesl is also a part of a small, informal referral group that formed spontaneously last year at what was then called the Creative Freelancer Business Conference (to be re-christened the “Creative Business Conference” this year). The members are all established writers I trust, but with different skill sets and specialties than my own.

Over dinner in a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, we made a pact to share opportunities that didn’t fit our growing businesses and agreed on a modest finder’s fee arrangement: ten percent of the proceeds from the new client for 12 months.

The deal has been working both ways. I’ve picked up a gig or two I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I’ve found it easier to turn down jobs that don’t fit my ideal client profiles by passing them on to better-suited colleagues. Either way, we all win.

Want to form a freelancer referral group like ours? There’s no better place than the Creative Business Conference — part of HOW Design Live — in Chicago this year. Today (February 3) is the last day to get the best price, and you can save an extra $50 by using the code “TUMBUSCH” when you register. Hope to see you there!

Tom N. Tumbusch writes copy that creates action for designers, creative agencies and green businesses. He is the author of the free eBook The Writer/Designer Dream Team and periodically shares more casual wisdom on the WordStream of Consciousness Blog. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at