December 1st, 2021

A Freelance Success Story: Rob Howard

How a senior marketing strategist made the leap from full-time employee to freelancing and used Communo to build a successful solo business.

As one of the founding members of the agency Cult Collective, Rob Howard remembers well when Communo was born. At the time, he worked full-time as Head of Ideation helping brands learn and adopt the principles of cult brand success. 

Rob witnessed many colleagues and contractors become Communo members and could see they were thriving. Now a father of two children, he needed the flexibility of working in a way that was more congruent with his lifestyle. Communo could facilitate this transition from employee to business owner.

“As much as I loved working as a full-time employee at Cult, it involved a lot of work that wasn’t on my terms, and I soon recognized there was less and less of a fit between myself and my employer.”

He left his full-time position and joined Communo for a more flexible arrangement.

“I looked at Communo as a way to reframe my relationship with my employer, make new connections with other experts and clients around the world, and work on my own terms.”

But, as many freelancers can relate, moving into self-employment can feel pretty risky, and cause a lot of anxiety.

“I experienced a whole spectrum of emotions when I made the transition. But the community support and the connections I made with other members quickly diminished my fear.”

Rob’s secret to making connections on Communo?

Every week I talked to someone new.

Rob made an effort to connect with members, and developed one particular habit: browsing the community to find individuals and companies who looked interesting—a.k.a. had skills he didn’t possess.

“Some of those connections turned into relationships where we exchanged work. Overall, these connections allowed me to create a virtual team of trusted professionals who I could call on and collaborate with.”

From full-time employee to CEO

A lot has changed since Rob left his job as an employee.

“It’s like I became the CEO of the world’s largest agency that doesn’t have an office. It was my duty to walk the floors of that office, to understand the talent that was on my infinitely large bench. And that’s what I did.”

First, connecting with members helped him realize he wasn’t alone. 

“It was if I had inherited a massive team of talented people which gave me the confidence to put myself out there and pursue projectsI wouldn’t have pursued otherwise.” 

Making connections showed him a new approach to work and helped him build his business model.

“Thanks to Communo, I can say yes to work that’s a good fit for me and call on the experts to do the work I’m not qualified for. I don’t need to pretend I have skills that I don’t because I can provide value through the combined effort of other members.”

The best part of having his own business?

I don’t have to hustle to get work.

Rob finds work through other members who invite him to join them on projects. You can barely find him online because all his clients are referrals.

“I don’t have to hustle for business. Here we are in December and I’m not looking at an empty pipeline for the next year. I know where my work will be coming from for at least the first quarter, which is a great feeling.”

The joy of matchmaking

So many freelancers can’t afford to say no to work that isn’t a good fit. And, as an employee, you don’t typically get to say no to work, either. 

“Being a Communo member allows me to assess every opportunity based on fit. If there’s no compatibility, I’ve got a lot of people I can refer clients to,” explains Rob.

“The way to look at Communo is like a matchmaking service that allows you to build your own virtual company by making relationships. You get to be the conductor of the symphony without having to play the violin.”

Rob’s tips for winning at Communo

Some simple suggestions to get the most out of the platform.

1. Give if you want to get

There are times when I have lots of work to share with the community and times when I have other members offer me work. It’s that give and take type of relationship Communo allows you to build, and it all comes back around.”

2. Connect, connect, connect

“Communo requires a level of participation. If you need new work, go out and make some connections. Find opportunities to start conversations. People work with people they like and trust, right?”

3. Stop wasting your time on job boards

“Stop investing your time browsing job boards and start building relationships. It will pay you back. One thing I do is to book time in my calendar every week to reach out to members.”

4. Pimp your profile

“Your profile needs to be the bomb. Make sure it’s complete, add your portfolio, references and work on your positioning.”

5. Know what’s right for you

“I wish I’d asked myself ‘What’s right for Rob Howard?’ before I got to the point where I was feeling stress and anxiety about my work situation as an employee.”

Rob jumped off the employee ship, boarded a boat of his own, which he’s paddling in his direction, his way. And with help from other Communo members.

Communo is not a marketplace for talent, it’s a marketplace for relationships. And those relationships will eventually lead to work.

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