Freelance Business Digest
Hello there,

How is your soft power?

Mine is, apparently, OK (blush), according to Jon Younger, who writes for Forbes about the freelance revolution. He included Freelance Business Community as an example of an organisation executing soft powers.

I never thought I'd be an example, let alone be mentioned in such a respected publication. I will celebrate tonight.

I am sharing this not to brag about my achievements but to say that everyone can master soft power skills because, to translate it from the politicians' language, soft power comes from building your own network and ecosystem. As Jon puts it nicely: ''the fundamentals of soft power are the promotion of an individual's or organization's interests, based on its experience, expertise, values, and achievements and executed through events, collaborations, incentives, and relationships''.

Each year, I organize Freelance Business Month so that every freelancer, regardless of their location, can find collaborators, build business relationships, learn from others, share their expertise, understand the market, and become better at what they do. Out of more than 3000 participants at our events, I can count only a handful of freelancers who take full advantage of the opportunities the event has to offer. I always wonder why...

Freelancers are too busy; I get it.

I enjoy following successful entrepreneurs on social media and observing how they live and work. Busy people, too, I guess. Two things I notice repeatedly (I'm sure there are smart books about this): 1) they are constantly expanding their network by attending events and meeting people, and 2) they consistently study, read, and learn from others.

One of the greatest examples of soft power is Robert Vlach, who joined our masterclass last month to share about his journey to become one of the well-paid consultant, highly recognised in the freelance ecosystem. He kindly shared his notes with our community as well (scroll below).

So, if I have convinced you that the best investment is in yourself, then get the Full Access Pass to Freelance Business Month to start building up your soft power. The early bird offer expires on September 15th. The ticket will be then 65 EUR, and once we hit October it will grow to 95 EUR. So get one now at 45 EUR, cause the mega special offer of 25 EUR you have already missed, sorry.

But until then, come and join our last masterclass of the year, which we are hosting with The Indie List. We will be welcoming Claus Raasted on Thursday, September 14th, at 18:00 CET /17:00 IRL / 12:00 NYC to talk about productivity. Register and add to your calendar.

If you don't know Claus yet, he is....

Director of The College of Extraordinary Experiences. External Advisor at McKinsey.
Ruby Hunter.
Marketing Wizard.
Innovation Strategist.
Playfulness Preacher.
Experience Design Pioneer.
Keynote Speaker.
Event Designer.
Author of 43 books.

I guess Claus knows a thing or two about being highly productive and building his own ecosystem around him! Register here.


Together with our partners at Doerscircle, we invite you to join our Focus Group on 21st of September. We are looking for 10 freelancers who are interested to share their biggest challenges and discuss which services or tools they may need to be more efficient, productive and successful in their freelancer business. Register here.


What else is happening:

1. Support the Freelance Petition. The way freelancers choose to work and live is now under threat by the European Parliament's current approach in the Platform Work Directive. If the EU Parliament gets its way, freelancers will face uncertainty, the risk of forced reclassification into employment structures they do not want: effectively taking away the flexibility and freedom that freelancers have actively chosen.

Glen Hodgson and Free Trade Europa has put together a petition, in order to ensure that the perspectives and concerns of platform workers are heard and considered during the trilogues between the EU institutions on the EU Platform Work Directive (beginning in October 2023). Sign the petition here and reshare with fellow freelancers.

Join the Freelance Business Month to know more about it.

2. Where do freelancers find clients? survey: Almost 400 freelancers have already participated in this project. If you haven't already, please take 2 minutes to answer a few short questions. I will present the report during the Freelance Business Month. Please assist us in resharing this link (marketing copies available here).

3. Focus group
    A few other things for you to read or watch:


    Let your freelance business be awesome.

    As always, hit reply and let me know what you think or suggest topics for the next newsletter.


    Join us on slack
    Game changers with Robert Vlach
    14 September, 18:00 CET

    Playful Productivity:
    How to get more done in less time
    while having fun

    Masterclass with Claus Raasted
    We all know how to work MORE. But how to work more while feeling like you're working LESS?

    Danish productivity powerhouse Claus Raasted has some thoughts on this. With 43 books to his name, and thousands of talks, workshops, events and more under his belt, he has been called many things, but rarely "unproductive". A few years ago, he coined the term "Playful Productivity" to describe the bag of tricks that he has employed over the years. And the best part? Each of these Powers of Playful Productivity (almost tm) can be used independently or in tandem with others!

    Join us this Thursday.
    Katya Balakina was kind to share this cool infographics with us afterwards.
    Take aways from Robert Vlach masterclass last month
    If you were at the masterclass, you know that we spend 2 hours learning from the most well paid freelance consultant. Robert is also a great champion and ambassador for freelancers worldwise.

    In August, Robert presented selected game-changing moments from his 25-year freelance career in an online pro-bono masterclass for over 100 freelancers, organized by the Freelance Business Community and The Indie List of Ireland.

    Robert was kind to send us his summary below. You may enjoy the read.

    Hello reader, here are my main game changing moments:

    1998 — I'm twenty and independent. I hitch-hike across Europe to Spain, hoping to find some seasonal work. Instead, I end up working freelance for a client as a web developer. Do I speak any Spanish? None at all. But I know something better: Coding. The World Wide Web is booming (before the bubble bursts in 2001) and the client, recognizing my potential for cheap high-value work, hires me on the spot. I work in Costa Dorada and then in Barcelona, falling madly in love with both Spanish culture and freelance work.

    2000 — I toil on the project for two years, doing almost nothing else. I complete it, but also burn out completely. I decide to quit IT for a year, clearing my head with 5am-to-3pm manual labour at a winery near Vienna. I read tons of books, ride the countryside on a motorbike and hang out with friends, but it still takes me a full nine months to recover my drive and energy. I realize I must change one thing to avoid losing it again: Go fully freelance and work for multiple clients.

    2004 — I keep on striving as a freelance web developer, but I am already drawn to business consulting and supporting freelancers. It starts in the early 2000s with building small websites for them and mentoring beginners. A few years later, I land my first big consulting client. An established software company hires me for complex business analysis, but the work environment turns out to be toxic. Instead of firing the client, I make a decision that transforms my consulting business from there on:

    Upselling the Client — I assess everything I know about the client and their business, and estimate how valuable my contribution is. I realize that if I double, or even triple my rate, they can still capitalize on my work with a huge margin. This gives me the confidence to submit a proposal to renegotiate both the terms and the price of my work. I don't win the deal, but we part amicably. However, in my heart of hearts, I know it is a close miss, and I immediately recognize the importance of upselling and dynamic pricing. Over the next two decades, I raise my base rate more than 20-fold (that's not a typo) while also improving my upsell success rate.

    2005 — After 6 months of development, I start the Czech freelance community, building on an idea that struck me a year earlier during a long journey in Mexico. Over the following years, it goes from a one-man-show with a bunch of freelance friends to one of the largest national freelance communities in Europe, currently supporting over 250,000 freelancers in their business. I find this work immensely fulfilling and rewarding. We do lots of things, including founding the first European think-tank for freelancers. Thanks to meeting thousands upon thousands of freelancers, I realize how vast and diverse the freelance economy really is, encompassing hundreds of industries and thousands of professions.

    2011 — I stumble upon a little-known book that is a game changer for me as a knowledge worker. Spark by John Ratey argues that cognition and brain performance can be hugely improved by physical exercise. The book steers me (a then 33-year-old) towards a much healthier lifestyle. My other game-changing books in this genre are Genius Foods by Max Lugavere, Lifespan by David Sinclair, Outlive by Peter Attia, This Book Could Save Your Life by Graham Lawton, and a couple of others on sleep, circadian rhythms, etc.

    2013 — After reading some classic books on the topic, I decide to start investing my ever-growing financial reserve in stocks. Later, I also make a small fortune on crypto, but picking up individual value stocks feels much closer to home. The core of my consulting work lies in evaluating businesses and their management, so why not do this with publicly traded companies? I learn fast, but also realize how time-consuming stock picking is. Years later, I calculate that investing the same amount of time in my business or selling it to clients is far more profitable, making for my gradual transition to index-fund investing. Book recommendation: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle.

    2014 — My wife Lenka and I both fall in love with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, an ocean-side metropolis with Las Canteras, the most city beach we've ever seen in Europe, and pleasantly warm weather all year long. From then on, we spend every single winter there, eventually with our little kids as well. Over the years, the place becomes our second home and a hotspot for remote workers from all over Europe. I even write a book there.

    2017 — The Czech edition of The Freelance Way has a whopping 760 pages, but I have the best publisher I could dream of. Against all odds, the book becomes a national bestseller, selling over 20,000 copies in a small country of only 10 million. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Not really. Previously, I fail twice writing it, and only finding the best partner in Jan Melvil Publishing and reading Steven Pressfield's War of Art saves my ass. Writing evidence-based non-fiction is hard, as I learn the hard way.

    2020 — While working on the English edition of The Freelance Way, I realize the uneven development of freelancing across Europe. In some countries, the freelance economy is well developed, underdeveloped in others. I notice that public discourse is dominated more by freelance platforms than by individual independent professionals. Precisely for these freelancers, we launch Soon, we cooperate with other like-minded individuals and projects. I realize how underserved and disconnected the pan-European freelance economy still is, especially in comparison to the US.

    2022 — HarperCollins publishes The Freelance Way in English as an international bestseller under the HarperBusiness and HarperAudio imprints. After two depressing covid years and dealing with countless literary agents around the world, my book is suddenly accessible to freelancers worldwide. Many of them reach out to me with touching personal stories and insights. I give talks and interviews to far more diverse audiences than ever before.

    The 2023 Challenge — What are the present game changers for me as a freelancer? I am concerned about the fate of Ukraine, and if we handle AI in the long term. Current LLMs are generally helpful and harmless, but can we eventually contain superhuman AI? I'm looking for good answers, and meeting smart people seems to be what works for me. To this end, we're launching two new initiatives: Freelancers On the Road event series across Europe, and in-person podcast interviews with European freelancers. So here's my challenge: If you are an established full-time freelancer based in Europe, speak English well enough, have an interesting personal story to tell, and you are willing to travel abroad to Ostrava (Czechia), I am open to recording an interview with you! Just email me with details about your work.

    Happy freelancing and many game-changing moments to you all!

    Robert Vlach

    Katya Balakina was kind to share this cool infographics above with us afterwards.
    Freelance Business Month
    Freelance Business Month

    Early bird ends 15 of September
    Full Access Ticket includes the following benefits:

    • access to all live online presentations and meet-ups and special workshops
    • session summaries
    • access to all recordings
    • online meet-ups with speakers and other attendees
    • access to attendees list and networking
    • ticket holders will also be invited to FBC and FBM strategy sessions.
    Book your ticket today
    Freelance Business Month
    Share your voice!

    Protect the rights and livelihoods of freelancers in the EU
    As we know, freelance work through digital platforms in the EU gives millions of us the ability to build fulfilling livelihoods on our own terms. We get to choose when, where and how we work, and be our own bosses outside the traditional 9 to 5.

    Sadly, this freedom is now under threat in the shape of the European Parliament's current approach to the Platform Work Directive. If the EU Parliament gets its way, we as freelancers will lose our flexibility, source of income, and be forced into employment structures we do not want.

    Thankfully, it is not too late. We can act to make our voice heard.

    In order to preserve the freedom and flexibility to #BeYourOwnBoss and ensure a fair and inclusive
    future for all platform workers, please sign this petition today and share it with your friends and colleagues, as well as give your support over social media.


    The European Commission published a proposal for legislation COM (2021) 762 to this end back in December 2021. This proposal included a list of five criteria covering level of remuneration; rules on appearance and conduct; performance of work and quality standards; choice of working hours; and possibility to work for third parties. If two of these criteria were met, then an individual would be
    deemed to be an employee under the terms of the proposal.

    Subsequently, the Employment & Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament proposed amendments to the text of the proposed legislation and made it worse by removing the criteria and imposing a presumption of employment on all platform workers: thus robbing them of the right to be a freelancer or self-employed. Furthermore, the European Parliament voted to impose tighter restrictions on the use of algorithms by platforms. Their position was agreed in February 2023.

    (information is provided by Free Trade Europe.)
      Sign the petition
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