It’s hard to believe that just a little bit more than six months ago, we launched The Gig Community. In that time, we’ve worked to develop relationships with potential members, partners, and the Northwest Arkansas community at large.
A look at the last six months
We have a growing social media following as well as new faces at each of our monthly Morning Coffee Socials and After Hours Socials. The social events have been a great way to offer those of us in the local gig economy a safe place to just get to know each other.
These events are designed to be entirely social, not networking. So, no stress about elevator speeches or trying to make a sale. We have been able to share common concerns and triumphs as we navigate this new digital economy.
We’ve even been contacted by people outside Northwest Arkansas who want to start similar organizations in their area and we love that! Our eventual hope is that organizations like ours will develop across the country as the Gig Economy continues to burgeon.
Behind the scenes, our founders and the advisory committee have been making big plans! We are so excited to share some pretty big updates that will affect the organization’s future and how we’re able to make a real difference for the digital workforce in Northwest Arkansas and beyond.
A look forward
We have several developments to share in today’s blog! We hope you’ll choose to become involved in as many ways possible.
In the last six months, it has become clear that to best serve our community, we must refine our focus. Initially, the plan was to create programming for every kind of independent, “1099” worker in the area, which included freelance creatives, consultants, direct sales representatives, self-employed skilled trades personnel, real estate agents, and medical personnel that was employed by temp agencies or through a contract-basis.
We quickly realized that scope was too big and incredibly hard to define as some of those categories of workers may be “gig” workers, but not everyone had the same concerns. That’s why, moving forward, our focus will be those in the digital workforce. In other words, those who are independent, remote workers. This would include freelance creatives, independent consultants from most industries, and direct sales representatives.
This refined focus will allow us to better cultivate community, development, and support for all members.
Membership program launch
Speaking of membership, we recently launched our membership program! We promised we would have memberships available by the end of Summer 2018 and we’re ahead of schedule! You can learn more about what becoming a member of The Gig Community means and how to join on our new membership page.
Members will receive:
- Discounts for our events including our Professional Development series, upcoming panels, expos, and even some members-only events. (Our public socials will continue to be free for all).
- Our members-only, private Facebook group that will allow you to more openly discuss the joys and concerns related to freelance/contract work.
- Potential clients who approach us seeking contract workers with certain skills.
- More community features as they develop including partnerships with various organizations and agencies that will enhance your personal and professional development.
What’s more is, we are offering the first year free to the first 150 approved members! Beyond that, our annual membership fee will be an incredibly affordable $75.
Unlike other business membership programs where it’s the business that holds the membership, in The Gig Community, we are a community of individuals that are more than the businesses we run. This also means that if a person happens to have more than one entrepreneurial endeavor (often the case), they won’t have to pay the membership fee for each business.
We mention that programming will be part of the membership benefit. We will launch our new Professional Development Series in August with a “Freelance 101” style session. These monthly lunch-time sessions will be available for a small fee and will cover topics that are of concern to those in the local gig economy.
We can’t say too much yet, but we are co-planning a big event for later this Fall, so you need to stay tuned for more information about that.
We will continue our twice-monthly socials that will continue to always be free and open to the public.
As we better learn what our community needs, we will develop programs including mentoring and special events.
Nonprofit status and fundraising
Our plan since the beginning has been to become a nonprofit organization. After much research and consultation, we have chosen to pursue a 501c(6) status, which is for business leagues such as chambers of commerce. This allows us to create advocacy programs on behalf of our members.
We are creating several opportunities to not only support The Gig Community financially but to celebrate the gig lifestyle as well. We will soon launch an online store that allows you to purchase various T-shirts and other products that celebrate the freelance lifestyle. The proceeds will go to fund establishing our nonprofit status and our programs.
Connect with us
Whew! That was a lot of updates. We want you to become involved as we are developing lots of great things. Visit our website and complete our interest form (signs you up for our newsletter), apply for membership, and consider other ways you might want to partner with us.
Jamie Smith is owner of the writing services company Jamie’s Notebook. She is the director of the communications committee for The Gig Community.