Freelancing has become a new ball game since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as many companies cannot afford to keep full-time positions, but still need those tasks completed. Although many more professionals have had to join the freelancing community since March, Tracy Judge had the passion for the freelancing community two years ago–long before the pandemic hit–and founded her company Soundings Connect in order to directly connect meetings and events industry freelancers with customers.
“It took a lot of thought leadership over the last couple of years to really get people to understand that this isn’t just about freelancers that are supporting third parties, or freelancers that are just used to support the peaks in our industry, but really that freelancers globally are used to help innovate business and drive changes within organizations as well,” says Judge.
Although it is a free service, Judge and her team work to find the perfect freelancer for each customer based on skills, personalities and experience by vetting and interviewing freelancers before they join Soundings Connect as a member. Currently, Soundings Connect has about 480 freelancers, with 30 percent growth since March.
Judge employs two full-time employees, as well as a few freelancers to drive her business. She intentionally incorporated freelancers into the framework of Soundings Connect, as it taught her how to plug in freelancers into her own business so she can teach others how to do it as well. “I’m testing my business model within my own organization as well,” Judge explains.
However, as COVID hit in March, freelancers were in a different spot than ever before. Although so many full-time positions were cut, many businesses were on pause and not needing to hire freelancers in the meantime. Judge launched Soundings Thrive in response, a membership-based platform for freelancers, as a way to give freelancers a sense of community as well as access to resources during the hiatus. Soundings Thrive gives freelancers access to webinars, articles, and other resources that they could use while freelance work was slower than before. Plus, Judge facilitated “coffee and cocktail chats,” where a group of freelancers talks on the phone to stay engaged.
“Right now, community is still important to freelancers. Whether members of our network were always freelancing or are new to freelancing because of a recent lay-off, they are accustomed to having a team and company to plug into. With reduced work during an unsettling time, it can be lonely for people. That’s why we created the Soundings Thrive community,” says Judge.
Soundings Thrive is free to Soundings Connect members, although Judge is working on a paid membership that will offer resources for freelancers to grow their businesses through enhanced offerings such as education, business services, and increased revenue opportunities. Although, that doesn’t mean paid members will get extra matches with customers.
In the future, Soundings Connect is working towards connecting hotel industry and A/V freelancers to customers, as Judge has gotten many requests to expand.