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.

How to Prepare for the FX Portfolio Showcase

The Freelance Exchange’s annual Portfolio Showcase is coming up on November 9th. Are you ready??

FX puts on this signature B2B trade show to give you, the freelancers, a prime opportunity to get yourself and your work in front of the very people who are looking for you, including ad agencies, design shops, large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and more.

For those looking for freelance talent, it’s a one-stop shop. They can find the one freelancer they need or put together an entire virtual agency. The possibilities are endless!

When / Where / What

First, the logistics:

Wednesday, November 9th

  • 3 – 5 p.m. Exhibitor Setup
  • 5 – 8 p.m. Portfolio Show/Open House, appetizers & drinks 
  • 8 – 8:30 p.m. Teardown
  • The Guild (in the Crossroads), 1621 Locust St., Kansas City, MO

Portfolio displays and tables are to be set up prior to the doors opening at 5 p.m. We recommend allowing ample time to set up … and go around and meet your fellow FX members and view their portfolios!

A bar will be on hand for purchasing beverages throughout the event, and appetizers will be available (for free).

Best Practices for the Best Exhibits

You’ll choose either 3 or 6 feet of a 6-foot table (or sponsor for a 9-foot table) covered with a black tablecloth. You can customize your display as much or as little as you want. For examples of table displays from past Showcases, look at pictures (see albums) on our Facebook page.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Think visually. The more visually appealing the display, the better chances of results.
  • Don’t just think flat table display. Utilize vertical and get crafty! That said, don’t get too ambitious and have a huge display that blocks your – or your neighbor’s! – view. Also, no floor displays are allowed.
  • Showcase your brand. Have your logo prominently on display, use signage, and bring plenty of business cards. Consider brochures, sample books, giveaways, raffle prizes, promotional items, etc.
  • Have an array of work available to view: Different mediums, industries, one-off projects, complete campaigns, etc.
    Not a creative type and no portfolio to show? No problem! Consider having testimonials, case studies, and more available. Use this opportunity as a meet-and-greet to share your services.
  • Be organized. Use a flipbook, brochure stand, or any other piece that will help accomplish this goal. Laptops and monitors are commonplace as well.
  • Need electricity?

If you didn’t note that when you signed up, your table may not be near an outlet. Let us know ASAP: [email protected]. Otherwise, plan to bring an extension cord; we’ll see what we can do.

Be Prepared

Aside from getting your portfolio and table display ready, there are a few things you can do to prepare, such as:

  • Determine your Unique Selling Point (USP). Figure out what makes you unique/different/better, and highlight that.
  • Write up your elevator speech. And practice it so it comes across naturally.
  • Bring a note pad and pen. Use this to take notes of what you spoke about and with whom so you can remember when you follow up.
  • See the big picture. Figure out how you can best communicate value to your prospects. Remember, you are not just a writer, designer, etc. You are part of this amazing collective in which you can partner with others on projects, form a virtual agency, and refer other members who may be perfect for a job.
  • Don’t just hand out your card. Have a conversation. Engage with your visitors! And get any prospect’s card as well.
  • Prepare for all types of questions. You may be asked about your capabilities, availability, and rates. While you get to determine how you want to answer these questions, FX suggests – in particular – you deflect any questions about your rate. Communicate your value, and ask for the opportunity to put together a formal project estimate instead.
  • Don’t be surprised. While we target heavily those looking to hire freelancers in our promotional efforts, we can’t prevent others (i.e., vendors, other freelancers, students) from coming to the trade show. We recommend greeting every visitor and engaging them in conversation up front to determine how much time you’d like to spend with them.
  • And, after the event? Follow up. Follow up. Follow up! Don’t miss out on a great opportunity. Make yourself memorable and begin a great relationship with your best prospects. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on other social media channels, send articles, emails, invitations for a coffee meeting, etc. (But not too much or too often. You don’t want to be a pest!)

Keep in mind, results may vary. Some years may generate some amazing hot leads. Others not so much. But it’s all about brand awareness and recognition. Meeting your peers. Getting referred and offering referrals. And who knows? You may end up with an amazing project years down the road from someone you met at this year’s show! So do your best to have a successful show, and keep the hope alive!

What You Can Do to Help

We promote this event far and wide through the use of email, web, social media, PR, outreach, and more. See more about our efforts in the FAQs section on the event page on our website.

Please help us spread the word and invite your contacts as well! Forward emails, share on social media, and help us get the word out.

Questions about the event? Contact Special Events Director Kate Bradshaw at [email protected].

‘Seize the Day’ is the Mantra of Freelance Graphic Design Members

Freelance graphic designers are a fearless bunch!

That theme came through loud and clear from the graphic design members of The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City who responded to our email questionnaire.

They overcame the doubt, ditched the hesitancy, and jumped headlong into the world of freelancing.

For instance, Linda Waterborg wrote that she had wanted to go out on her own for years, “but I was scared and always found a reason to stay in a 9-to-5 job.” She added, “I kept trying, and learning, and failing, and trying again, and growing.” Then, one day, she realized she had all the right skills and building blocks in place to make the move.

The biggest lesson for Waterborg as a freelance graphic designer was to keep pushing outside her comfort zone, something Holly Hempfling embraced as well in describing the best piece of career advice she has received: “Lean into fear! If it feels terrifying, you should probably go for it.”

It’s cool how these sentiments transcend our specialties. Many of us can identify with that feeling of being on the edge of the high dive with our careers — wondering if we should leap into the unknown waters of freelancing. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the approximately 265,000 graphic designers employed in the U.S in 2021, about one in five was self-employed.

Who among us, for instance, has not had some version of the experience related by Annie Monfort, a freelance graphic designer? She wrote that her tipping point came when “the certainty of staying in a job where I was bored, became scarier than the uncertainty of figuring out everything you need to know to support yourself.”

Tolerating the unknowns and discomforts of freelancing, she wrote, “is honestly one of the most valuable lessons for all aspects of life.”

Freelancing also provides a greater promise that we will love what we do for work, a sentiment underscored by Jake Edmisten and Jen Rarey. Their comments apply well beyond those who work as freelance graphic designers.

For Edmisten, that realization came in the form of advice from someone he used to work with, who stressed the importance of pursuing passion projects. That former co-worker, Edmisten wrote, “told me that I needed to make time for myself, because I wouldn’t find the jobs that I want by doing the work I didn’t want.”

Rarey has learned that investing your time and talents into work that has meaning allows you to “always be passionate about what you’re creating.” Be bold, she urged, and “see challenges as the opportunities that they are, and learn from every experience so you can keep evolving and fine-tuning your skills.”

One other lesson that came from our freelance graphic designers is that there is no one tried and true path into the career you love.

Will Mackey, for instance, discovered his interest in art as a 5-year-old. “Then I just kept working at it for years,” he wrote.

But Erin Albright did not really think of herself as an artist, even when she loved designing pages for her high school yearbook. So in the end, she wrote, “I took a windy path and am self-taught/taught by many amazing designers that I’ve worked with along the way.”

The FX of KC is for Freelancers, Contractors, Consultants and whatever else you call yourself. There’s a place for you here! Want to learn more about FX of KC

What Makes a Good FX Portfolio?

By Amber Monaco

One of the best benefits of joining FX is to have your business listed in the Portfolio section. This section of the website is searchable by specialty or name in order for a potential employer to find exactly who and what they need.

You have to do your part by adding yourself to the directory and filling out your profile completely. But trust me, it’s worth it. I’ve had many clients and even more interviews from people who found me on the FX website!

Here are a few areas of the portfolio that you don’t want to miss:

1. Name and Picture

Many people take advantage of the first sample space within their Portfolio to share their title and headshot. People want to know who you are and what you look like. Beyond your name, give yourself a creative job title to truly express yourself. You could add your logo, but don’t forget to include your face. We’re all about making personal connections.

2. Background

This is your opportunity to share your past experiences, education, and name-drop the popular clients you’ve had. 

3. Contact Info

A potential client needs to know how to get in touch with you. They may want an email or they may want to call you. Meet the client where they are and provide a way to contact you. Don’t lose business because you forget to list your phone number. This is a great place to include your website and LinkedIn profile links as well.

4. Samples of Work

This is your time to show off!  

The portfolio allows you to upload graphics, link an image to a website or video. Alongside the example of your work, write a description of the work that you did and the outcomes from your work.  Brag about yourself – you work hard and people should see that!

Choose diverse selections of your work so that a potential new client can see the depth of your work.

5. Choose Your Specialty Wisely

At this point in time, you can choose up to two specialties to be listed, so choose well. You can pick from one already in the list or let us know what you want and we will add it for you (email [email protected]). It does make sense if the two specialties match similarly (example, logo design and website developer), but it may be a strategic move to vary your specialties a bit. It’s up to you.

6. Testimonials

Create a graphic to showcase your latest testimonial.  If your client took the time to say what they loved about working with you, you should promote that to the world.  Plus, testimonials can live beyond the platform where they were originally submitted!

7. Certifications / Designations

You have worked hard to earn your credentials – show them off on your FX portfolio page!  You can simply add the logo of the badge or accreditation you’ve earned and speak to the work that went into earning the designation.

These examples are just a few of the MANY wonderful FX portfolios on The Freelance Exchange of KC website. Listing out your work, experience, and potential deliverables is the most useful way to show off your talents to potential clients.  

Take the time to expand on your portfolio today – it’s worth it.

Freelance Copywriters Sound Off About Silence

In the popular imagination, a freelance copywriter is the coffee shop customer wearing earpods and click-clacking away on their laptop. Even ad agency writers working in cool offices might be envious of the flexibility their freelance peers enjoy.

But reality does not correspond with perception, at least according to what The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City (FX of KC) found in an email questionnaire sent to its copywriter members. Our respondents overwhelmingly said they prefer the quiet of their home office.

Typical of the responses was this one from FX of KC founder, and freelance rockstar, Julie Cortes: “I can’t concentrate in a coffee shop,” she wrote. “Too many (Shiny things!) distractions. I usually have to have it be super quiet, too. No music, no podcasts, no nothin’.”

Solitary home offices can be, well, awfully solitary, so public libraries and patio tables got a nod from Mallory Herrmann to “keep myself out of a rut.” You might also see her at a coffee shop!

Another interesting similarity among our freelance copywriter respondents was the way they approach writer’s block. A couple typical strategies included taking a walk or just simply getting something down on paper, knowing that there is always room for editing and rearranging.

Christine Knauer talked about “working around the margins of the project” to get started, such as doing research, editing transcribed interviews, and even formatting the page. “It allows me to keep moving forward with the project without having to be creative just yet,” she wrote.

By now, most of us have heard about the Great Resignation — where the COVID-19 pandemic spurred droves of workers to quit their jobs after taking stock of their lives during the months of lockdown. Many of these workers decided to hang out their own shingle — and freelance copywriters were surely among that group.

There are now nearly 60 million freelancers in the United States, according to Don’t Do It Yourself (DDIY), which provides advice and reviews for businesses seeking freelance workers. DDIY says 41% of the American workforce freelanced in the year 2020, up 13% since 2013. 

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh noted that many of these new solopreneurs do strictly online freelancing, through platforms like Upwork and PeoplePerHour

The researchers wrote about the familiar benefits of flexibility and the potential to earn more money, but they also highlighted downsides like commoditization of work and the “unpredictability of a contingent labor market, especially in the absence of labor regulations and rights.” 

But FX of KC freelance copywriter Mike Sherry did not see much of a downside to his decision to go out on his own. He said, “After 30 years in journalism, I wanted to apply my skills in a different way and to be my own boss. The pluses are that I make my own decisions without any second-guessing from colleagues or vetoes from bosses. The minus, of course, is the difficulty of chasing and landing new business — but that is a challenge, too, which could sort of go in the plus category.”

Regardless of the ups and downs of freelancing, many choose this path every year. Joyce Allard said, “I was a copywriter at a full-service advertising agency earlier in my career. After 20+ years in public relations and communications, I decided it was the right time to start my own business as a freelance copywriter. Working with clients and having their projects come to life is rewarding in many ways.”

The FX of KC is for Freelancers, Contractors, Consultants and whatever else you call yourself. There’s a place for you here! Want to learn more about FX of KC

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?