Earlier I wrote an article about the Freelancer's Union (will post or link to it later) and upon reading the stats I was like, great scotts, that's amazing. You're kidding when you say freelancers make up approximately a third of the American workforce. Then again, maybe it's not so hard to believe: "Part-timers piece together a living with multiple jobs, full-time workers supplement their incomes with freelance projects, and others make their entire livings as independent contractors," founder Sara Horowitz explains.
Interestingly enough, with my deeply-involved full-time job and side projects I would never have characterized myself as a freelancer. But maybe it's just my packaging terminology. I like to think of myself as a covert agent or snazzy product juggler or (and this is my personal favourite) straw-into-gold-spinner.
"What about retirement?!" I can hear my pops sputter. (Indeed, it was just the other day.) "What about a good pension!" Come on, dad. I've got higher aspirations than a pension. That's part of what drives anybody's desire to take projects on in addition to one's day job - that and a healthy dose of passion.
Clearly it ain't mom and pops' world anymore.
I don't consider myself a big union person. In my opinion unions outgrew their value once minimum wage became law. But I like the ideas behind Horowitz's atypical customer centric model. Let's face it, freelancers are largely ignored by employers and unions alike in the benefits and advocacy arena. Die-hard freelancers don't get unemployment when they need it, and hell - who needs health perks more than the guy juggling several short-term gigs at once?
I also want to point out that there's no monthly fee associated with membership with the Freelancer's Union; instead you pay for a benefits package (a logical idea! Imagine that), and admittedly they're a little rudimentary, especially health-wise. But hey, reshaping the existing union model for the "New Economy" has to start somewhere. It's not like Horowitz is holding still, either - she created a social networking site for freelancers last summer and is looking to add 401(k) benefits to her cache. Awesome.
The Freelancer's Union was founded in 2001 and already boasts over 37,000 members. It's the 7th-largest union in New York and is headed in the direction of Killa Cali, though the progress is slow-going. Hey, I won't be shy; consider me signed the moment they cross Golden State soil.
All right. I think I'm done evangelizing for the night. But speaking of, here's some interesting reading for your book list. It's all about how consumers are today's It marketers. (Like anybody needed to tell you.) Let me just take this opportunity to point out how incestuous the consumer/marketer relationship is. Screw the old stodgy Ogilvy types (no offense, David O. - I think you're awesome) - you can really only be a great marketer if you know intimately what it is to be a consumer. Embrace the consumer in you the way you'd embrace a bratty, mildly spoiled inner child.
Yes. You hear me. Marketers, your inner consumer is alternately id and innocence. Bow, obey, embrace. Consumers, your inner marketer is that leap in your chest or that sense of complete revulsion generated by a product, brand or company. Roll with those feelings. We're one and the same.