Freelancer Lifeline is a resource destination where FX members can find grant opportunities, loan information, digital events, creative tools, and more. We hope it serves as a source of comfort, inspiration, and support as we navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic together.

The Number of Independent Workers is Growing

Some are calling it the Great Realization, others are calling it an Independent Wave. Whatever you call it, the numbers don’t lie. According to MBO Partners’ State of Independence Report, the overall number of independent workers grew sharply in 2021: up 34% to 51.1 million from 38.2 million in 2020.

“The pandemic accelerated an inevitable tipping point for the modernization of work, as evidenced by the 51 million independent workers in America,” said Miles Everson, CEO of MBO Partners. “In the new work landscape, independence is not only mainstream, but a vital part of the American economy and workforce.”  

As a result, independent workers are here to stay and are vastly increasing in numbers. Have you recently taken the plunge to become an independent worker? Perhaps you consider yourself a freelancer, consultant, solopreneur, or contractor instead. Whatever you call yourself, if you are an independent worker in the advertising/marketing industry, join others in your community to share ideas, get education and mentorship, network, and connect via The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City. The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City (commonly referred to as FX or FX of KC) has been a part of the Kansas City community since 2003. FX brings together freelancers/consultants, etc., from the advertising/marketing industry to share best practices, become savvier business owners, and expand their networks. FX also serves as a free resource for local ad agencies and businesses to find quality talent easily and quickly.

Interested in learning more?

We’ve got you covered. Here are a few of the perks that come with being a member of FX of KC:

  • Portfolio Showcase – advertise your business and show your work. An easy way to sell your services and get hired!
  • Monthly Luncheons – hear from speakers to educate and inform on professional development topics or join in on roundtable discussions.
  • Networking Happy Hours and Coffee Meetups – connect with others for support and possible referrals and partnerships.
  • Access to our private Facebook group for open discussions, questions, and more.
  • Include your portfolio and contact information on your portfolio page of our website.

Want to get involved?

Freelancing as My Authentic Self

There wasn’t yet language to describe how I felt when I was younger. My high school friends called me the “third gender,” and I always felt in-between labels. As I got older, I pushed it away and did all of the things I thought would lead me to happiness: pursuing a career, getting engaged, and keeping up with what everyone else was doing. I became burned out quickly and my relationships suffered. It never dawned on me that there was another option.

Before I started freelancing, I was in a field resistant to change. I just assumed I would have to present two versions of myself: the authentic self, Max, and the professional side that wouldn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. Throughout my career, it became second nature to shelve core parts of myself. 

In some ways, my corporate career and my gender identity took on a similar path. I got to the point where something had to give. While I made progress on building a supportive network, I felt the nagging feeling something was missing. For both, it was far easier to know what I wasn’t than what I was.

In 2018, I first started my freelancing journey, which caused me to look inward to see how I could best serve clients. In my personal life, I began to reconsider whether I identified as a woman. I knew of transgender people but, even just a few years ago, there weren’t many people in feminine bodies publicly transitioning. I didn’t know if it was possible or if it would make me happy.  

I’m genderfluid, which means that my gender identity shifts between feeling masculine, feminine, or neutral. I started my website and LLC under my birth name Crystal. I began coming out as Max in my personal life but still clung to the idea that I couldn’t fully be myself as some people would consider it “unprofessional.” I had a foot in the world of employment and freelancing, and I knew I would have to make a decision.

But then, something happened that pushed me to live as my most authentic self. Many people remember the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage but the decision in June of 2020 that made it illegal to fire someone based on their gender identity or sexuality made me cry real tears at my job. I finally felt seen and validated. Maybe there was room for people like me in the workplace.

There were a lot of hurdles and roadblocks at my place of employment, and while the law may have had my back, I didn’t feel supported by the structures in place both in and outside employment. There is still a lot of work to do to help transgender people feel like they belong.

I went back to freelancing to create my own supportive space. As a solopreneur, I get to decide who I work with, and respecting my identity is nonnegotiable. So far, most people I’ve come across in the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City have been supportive, respectful, and receptive to education. This is new territory for all of us, even me. It’s okay not to know and to ask.

For me, Pride Month is about acknowledging the history and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, while celebrating getting to live as my authentic self. If you want to know about how you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ people in your life, first and foremost, ask them what they need. I also tell folks not to make assumptions about how people want to be addressed based on how they present themselves. Be an advocate for their identity to be respected even when they’re not around. At events, be the first person to introduce yourself with your pronouns and include them in your email signatures. This takes the pressure off of the trans and nonbinary people who often feel bothered when they’re the only ones in a space to do that. 

The Freelance Exchange of KC has joined the Mid-America LGBT Chamber as part of our outreach efforts to support the unique struggles of an LGBTQ+ freelancer. There are valid fears that potential clients may reject us due to our identity, and we don’t have the same recourse as employees. The isolation that solopreneurs and contractors may feel can be compounded when you are an LGBTQ+ person. There are also fewer business resources for the LGBTQ+ community, though this is starting to change. Joining the LGBT Chamber is one way our organization can give a voice to LGBTQ+ freelancers, while connecting them to the community and resources we need to thrive.