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At first glance, forming a co-op of freelancers might seem like a contradiction in terms. After all, isn’t the whole idea of being a freelancer to be independent, your own boss, a lone wolf wandering the range?

Many of us who have been employees, then freelancers, then worker-owners of a co-op have found the worker co-op model to offer the best of both worlds. You still get much of the self-determination of being your own boss—but you don’t have to do it all alone. Here are some of the advantages that a freelancer may find in being a worker-owner of a co-op:

Someone to back you up

So much of the time, freelancing is feast-or-famine. During crunch times, or just vacation time, you can have teammates that also know the client and can step in for you - as a fellow worker-owner, they can garner the same authority and respect that you do.

Leverage complementary skills

Over time we gravitate to a particular area of interest and expertise. By being part of a team, we are engaged with co-workers with distinct but related strengths, and the natural cross-pollination of knowledge and ability enriches everyone. Unlike traditional companies, the shared-fate structure of a worker co-op incentivizes the sharing of skills between professionals who might otherwise see each other as competitors.

Economies of scale

Combining forces can lower overhead by aggregating buying power in office space, information systems, bookkeepers, accountants, attorneys, and other business necessities. Whatever else the co-op achieves, it also represents a natural buying club. (Or a natural 'not-paying-for-things-after-all' club--you may discover existing facilities or systems that can be shared and your new co-workers may have skills in areas where you'd otherwise be outsourcing.)

Opportunities of scale

Did you ever want to take on larger projects but know that you didn't meet the requirements? Have you ever regretted taking on a big job that turned out to be just a little beyond your abilities? As a member of a cooperative, you can consider a much wider range of opportunities, knowing that you're not facing it all on your own. At the same time, your work relationship with the co-op can be much more flexible and less all-or-nothing than a typical employment relationship; co-op agreements can vary widely to meet the needs of their members. For instance, our co-op allows members to keep doing their own solo gigs with past clients.

== A greater volume and diversity of work from which to choose, including more niches == A co-op of five people may do five times as much work, but the increased volume brings increased perspectives on the market and the clients. Simply gaining more exposure to more action will present higherquality opportunities, with more brains to analyze and brainstorm about how to take advantage of them.

Professional camaraderie

Even the toughest situations become much easier to resolve when several brains, eyes, and perspectives are applied to them. Ongoing give-and-take and a sense of solidarity make tedious work less taxing and rewarding work more enjoyable

More than the sum of its parts

The members of a team may increase arithmetically, but teamwork increases geometrically. With each new person comes more than one new interpersonal dynamic, more than one new opportunity for fresh ideas and new angles. And groups usually make better, more careful decisions than their members would have individually