Coworking Is My Compass: A Long, Strange Trip Through Freelancing And Back

Hi Cohereians! It’s Beth. If you’ve been a member of Cohere for a long time, you may have a very foggy memory of me. Possibly driving away in an RV? Yeah, that was me. I’ve been on a lot of crazy, meandering adventures in my life–both literally and figuratively.

It was waay back in 2009 when Angel rescued me from the coffee shop circuit. My first day of coworking at Cohere, I was totally intimidated. Y’all were so cool and creative and confident in your chosen fields. As a chronic sufferer of imposter syndrome, I was none of those things. Yet.

beth treehouse

Me in the ole Treehouse.

Every day I hiked up the stairs of the Jefferson Street space and planted myself at one of those curvy desks (or, more often than not, the Treehouse) I learned so much from my fellow coworkers: not in workshops or classes, but in the chatter, the laughter, the frustrations that touched us all in turn. I discovered, then became addicted to, the warm-and-fuzzy feeling it gave me to be around you. How your success motivated me to reach for my own.

When Eric and I had the crazy idea to put location-independence to the test, and travel around in an RV with nothing but a WiFi hot-spot connecting us to the real world, the larger coworking community opened its arms. We saw new spaces and felt the kindness of strangers with whom we had nothing in common but a desire to do what we loved wherever the hell we wanted.

coworking books

Angel and I with the first coworking book.

And when we came back, MUCH sooner than expected, you didn’t skip a beat. You welcomed me back and Angel and I set about combining her knowledge of coworking and my wordsmithing skills together into two of the most popular e-books about coworking the world has ever seen (no, seriously). Being asked to assist with that project was an honor, and helped to nestle my foundation in the coworking community just a little bit deeper. And there is going to be a third some day, damnit.

Then, it was off for another adventure in Wyoming. Cheyenne was 45 minutes and A WORLD away from the things and people we loved in Colorado. I missed coworking so much during those days, I wrote it a letter. During that time, occasional visits to Cohere and contributing to its blog kept me grounded. Yeah, many of the posts you’ve read here over the years were written by me channeling Angel. We’re really good at that.

As luck would have it, it was when I was in the wilds of Wyoming that my freelancing really started to become something. Gone were the penny-a-word copy writing gigs. (Yeah I did that. New writers, don’t ever do that). Now came the steady blogging for the earth-friendly sites I loved. Even though I was a state away, my connection at Cohere helped me land some legitimate copy writing work for a firm in Fort Collins. It was also during this time that a publishing house approached me about writing THE BOOK.

That’s right. See all this time of coworking and collaborating and being part of a community was actually part of something bigger: collaborative consumption and the rise of the sharing economy. Thanks to coworking (which was directly responsible for me landing a freelance gig with Shareable magazine) I was right in the thick of it at exactly the right time. And when opportunity came knocking, carrying my unabashed dream of creating a real book with a real publisher, I had the confidence to open the door.

sharing is good box cover pic

The book!

In the interim I moved to Denver and joined the Creative Density coworking community. They didn’t even know me like you guys do, and STILL everyone was encouraging and supportive of the new project. A year later, Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time and Resources through Collaborative Consumption was born, and my heart overflowed. Now I was really cooking with gas. Doing radio interviews (what?!), being quoted in the New York Times and yes, even selling a few copies.

I collected even more work and suddenly found myself in the mind-boggling position of needing to raise my rates and actually (gasp!) turn down gigs that weren’t exactly right for my passion and skills. And guess what taught me how to do both of those things? Coworking.

Now, I’m setting off for yet another adventure. NOT literal this time (thank goodness). We’re staying right here in Colorado where we belong. No, this adventure is strictly the professional kind. A full-time job for a media startup out of  NYC recently landed in my lap.

That is not a metaphor.

I was sitting (WHERE ELSE?!) at a desk in the Old Town Cohere, chatting about life and work with Kristin and Angel when an unsolicited email from their CEO appeared in my inbox. Three weeks later, I was hired on full-time to help them launch, and eventually lead, a sustainability vertical. It was a chance to bring my tree-hugging ways to an entirely new audience in a different way, and thanks to everything I’d learned over the past 5 years, I knew how to seize it. And thank god, it’s a remote position so I can continue coworking, currently at The Armory in Loveland.

So, I’ve journeyed all the way through freelancing and back again. And all the while, coworking has been my constant, my compass. No matter how far away from the actual space I ventured, the collective power of your brains and hearts was never more than an email or Facebook post away.

Never mistake coworking as just a desk in a place where you can go to get away from that sink full of dishes or noisy coffee shops. The people of coworking are a treasure. They have made every difference in my success. The support and love and motivation you’ll find in a coworking community can’t be duplicated. It can’t be manufactured just because you put a bunch of desks in a cool looking space. It is built, one smile, one cupcake, one computer crash at a time. It is changing you, making you better, even if you can’t see it or feel it right now.

This freelancing or business owning thing is a journey, with LOTS of twists and turns. Many of them unexpected. Don’t go it alone. Take the community with you. It makes all the difference in the world.

I’m living proof of that :)

Image: calsidyrose

3 Reasons To Grow Your Small Business In A Coworking Space

coworking-small-business

Are you the next big thing? Has your fledgling company just taken on its first two employees because business is pouring in faster than you can handle it? Right now you’re working around the kitchen table (like those guys up there) but between kids, spouses, and a menagerie of pets, it’s becoming impossible to get anything done.

Or perhaps you’re a seasoned entrepreneur who knows the wisdom of taking it slow, but you lack a network of talented designers and marketers that can help ease your workload. You’ve got the capital for your own office space, but often find yourself meeting clients at coffee shops or working at the library, because you can’t stand the isolation.

You need coworking.

I know, I know. You’ve heard your freelance friends talking about how much they love coworking, but you don’t think it’s for you. You’re not just taking on contract work. You’re building a business. You’ve got proprietary information to protect, and need space for meetings with your 2, 3, or 6 member team.

Coworking is still for you.

According to the hundreds of international coworkers who responded to the 2010/11 Global Coworking Survey…

The following things are important to entrepreneurs and likely, your employees.
86% value flexible work times and the ability to interact with new people
82% value sharing knowledge with others
79% place high value on the random opportunities and discoveries made inside coworking spaces

What benefits can you expect your employees to experience?
85% saw an increase in daily motivation
88% have better interactions with other people
60% organize their working day better so they can relax more at home
86% reported meeting at least 3 helpful acquaintances in the first two months of membership
91% of coworkers are either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall coworking experience
85% plan on staying in their coworking community for at least another year

(OK that’s way more than three reasons…)

Coworking with us at Cohere will unleash the true potential of your employees, and as a result, your company. Instead of limiting your pool of ideas or subcontractors in a tiny office (or kitchen), coworking incubates your business through instant connections to a city-wide network of motivated independent professionals.

In a coworking space, asking for advice, feedback, or parsing out contract work is as hard as turning around in your chair. (The people who can do these things are sitting right next to you, see?) Also, it will give your employees a change of scenery, and a chance to learn from the seasoned designers, marketers, writers, and programmers who work with us every day.

Learn more about the benefits of coworking for small business here, or send us an email about what you’re budget can handle. We’ll work something out.

Image via cyberhill/Flickr

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