• Jenny Bjorklof

Future-proofing freelancers in Belgium is our main mission for 2021!

3 years ago I started as a freelancer. It was a big, scary step to leave the golden cage and move from employee to independent. With the Freelancers in Belgium community, I wanted to get to know other freelancers and learn more about running a freelance business successfully. In 2020 I dedicated more time to help freelancers move forward. I’ve managed the Facebook group with now more than 5000 members where freelancers can get peer support and answers to their most pressing questions, or share challenges, tips and news.

This we’ll continue to do with our big group and 10 sub-groups led by 26 volunteer community managers were launched.

I love the diversity in the groups. Men and women, in all ages, from all over the world, in all stages from all sectors, ranging from starters or more advanced ones to social media marketers, blade technicians, denim experts, IT professionals and everything in between.

What we have in common is Belgium, a positive vibe and a huge willingness to share and support each other. Freelancing is a lot easier when we don’t have to do it alone.

COVID19 came and brought new challenges and opportunities, and most of all, big changes in the way we work. This brought a bigger need for community and being connected with our peers.

With this growth, my dear friend and business partner Jessie Govaert expressed interest in starting a business to fuel the mission of improving the lives for freelancers together.

So we started the not for profit organisation Freelance Forward vzw to grow the community into a movement and officially support and raise awareness about freelancing in Belgium.

Our challenges are growth and monetisation. How to keep the positive vibes and the intimate feeling in the community with more members? To keep the quality it requires more time to manage the group(s). And as it requires more time we can't continue doing it for free anymore, so we need to find ways to monetise our activities. Without being too commercial and ruining the community spirit.

Here is our attempt to balance it.

Freelance supporting partners

To support the community and freelancers we’ll continue developing partnerships with companies and organisations that are forward-thinking, kind and understands the power of community.

Our partners shares valuable expertise and information, offers relevant products and services and supports our activities financially. Our aim is to build an ecosystem of parties that together can have a stronger voice and create a common impact on the future of freelancing in Belgium.

So far we have secured partnerships with:

  • Social security provider Securex with their Start2Freelance offers. Starters can get free information, coaching.

  • Freelance assignment matchmaking platform Jellow

  • The progressive law firm IntoLaw provides us with legal advice and free or very affordable contract templates (in Dutch), check modelovereenkomsten.be

  • GraydonGo, the specialist in company information. By accessing company information reports freelancers can plan for their future better and protect themselves against unpaid invoices and fraud.

  • Copyright invoicing tool Creative Shelter. They turn copyrights into cash and saves freelancers from invoicing hassle.

  • Accounting tool Accountable and digital accounting company Digicount for all accounting and bookkeeping needs.

We are looking for more partnerships so if you are or you know organisations that support freelancers in Belgium contact jessie.govaert@freelancersinbelgium.be. We are also happy to announce Jean-François Bodart as a new member of our team to help with partnerships.

A big campaign

One thing I’m super excited about is The Campaign. Together with 10 freelancers, we are currently working on launching a nationwide campaign with the aim to create demand for freelancers, ultimately leading to more and better assignments.

The plan is to organise a competition where companies can win a team of freelancers for one week to realise a project. To fuel this we’ll organise a crowdfunding campaign.

Sales & Marketing Academy

We organised the Freelancers in Belgium Day in February just before the COVID19 outbreak with 250+ freelancers and supporters learning and sharing, in person, under the same roof for a day. It was magical. Because we couldn’t meet offline anymore we organised four online Freelance Forward events, with both freelance forwarding content and networking opportunities with Conversation Starter. I get so happy when I receive emails saying “Thanks to meeting person x at that event we are now doing y together.”

There will be more events in 2021 too. We listened to your feedback in the community survey where many wished for social media and marketing training. We are currently developing a brand new Sales & Marketing Academy where freelancers can learn how to get clients. The plan is to launch it in March/April.

Stay tuned & reach out

If you want to stay up to date with our initiatives, subscribe to our newsletter and join our FB groups via www.freelancersinbelgium.be

I'm always open for feedback, collaborations, ideas and suggestions so do reach out if something springs to your mind that can help freelancers forward, send me, Jenny, an email on jenny.bjorklof@freelancersinbelgium.be.

I wish you a very healthy, happy and successful 2021.