A blog entry at Forbes
has caught the attention — and the ire — of several of my colleagues at the Internet Press Guild (IPG)
, a group of technology writers, most of whom go back a ways. Susannah Breslin, who writes under the name “Pink Slipped” (cute), apparently got the following question from a reader: “Is it possible…for freelancers to really be friends?” Her answer? No.
Warriors don’t befriend enemies on the battlefield, do they? And that’s what the work landscape is like these days: a battlefield. The goal is to bludgeon as many other people with a flail as possible. Does this sound like friendship to you?
The comments section immediately draw several ascerbic — but reasonably polite — responses. Most were to the effect that successful freelancers aren’t trampling over their competitors, but helping each other to find work by passing on info on available gigs, offering advice and info when needed, and in other ways helping friends so that friends will help them. Especially because, these days, you need all the help you can get — and the freelancer you help today could be an editor looking to hire some writers tomorrow.
All I can say is — what they said. I’ve had colleagues whom I’ve hired, and who have hired me, and who have helped me in various ways, through the years. If you want to succeed as a freelancer, the way to do it is to do your best to be a good citizen in the world of independent workers. Step on others and they’ll only wait for a chance to step on you. Besides, when things go wrong, it’s great to have friends who understand what you’re bitching about.