The first reference to freelancing was made in 1819 but dates back to the Middle Ages. The Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott wrote about “free lances” in Ivanhoe, his historical novel set in the 12th century, in reference to knights who leased out their swords - their lances – to the highest bidder.
“I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them,” Sir Walter wrote, “I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”
I’ve always loved the origins of the word freelance. It reminds me to go after what I’m worth, to stand up against poor treatment and be fiercely independent. In 2021, a woman of action will always find her self-employment. It’s that fighting spirit that I’m calling on right now and today marks the start of a new chapter for this newsletter.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to LANCE, the change-making newsletter and community that fights for freelancers everywhere. I’ve changed the name to LANCE to mark a refocusing of this project and to serve as a battle cry for freelancers everywhere. For too long, freelancers have been undervalued, underserved and undersupported. The pandemic has only put us in an even more precarious position – and there’s no one fighting our corner. Until now.
An estimated 3 million UK taxpayers, most of whom are self-employed, have been excluded from the government’s coronavirus support package. The situation is no better in America, where fears are growing about the controversial AB-5 law and the implications of the passing of Proposition 22. All this, and a drastic decline in available work, is putting scores of freelancers out of business, leading to the first significant drop in self-employment seen in two-decades.
Our rights as independent workers are under threat and mainstream media is simply not doing enough to cover the nuances of these issues beyond the occasional headline. As for the stories that get no air time whatsoever, I don’t even know where to start.
So I’m calling on that OG free lance energy today, nine centuries after those knights took up their own lances, to fight back against these injustices.
Each Friday, you can expect a piece of original reporting on LANCE about the global freelance community. There’ll be investigations about abuses of power (hello, late payments, I’m coming for you), but also uplifting stories about the quirks of freelance life. Don’t worry, my guides and how-tos aren’t going anywhere – I’m just beefing up the service journalism to give you expert-backed, actionable advice.
This brings me to the biggest difference you can expect to see from LANCE: journalistic rigour. I’ve taken on legal and editorial support to help me ensure that all posts will be written to the same standards you’d expect in a national publication. I’m a trained journalist, after all, and wholeheartedly believe that radical and fearless journalism can – and does – make a difference in our world.
I’m so excited about this new phase for the newsletter. It’s an opportunity for me to pull together everything I’ve been doing over the last few years into a cohesive push for the better treatment of freelance workers.
I have to be candid, however. None of this will be possible without financial support from readers like you. The future of LANCE depends on premium subscribers financially supporting this work. Without the backing of paying readers, there is no newsletter at all. Premium membership not only helps you be the best freelancer can you be – it sustains LANCE’s mission to bring about lasting change for the freelance community.
I’ve designed the membership to give you the tools and support you need to help your freelancing business flourish. LANCE premium members receive the following benefits:
Invitations to LANCE Chats, a series of member-only virtual events. The next one is on Jan 18 with Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com about freelancer finances
An exclusive, weekly insider-email packed with industry insights, work tips, cool opportunities and more
Access to live online discussion threads with me and the other LANCE members to chat, rant and revel about freelance life
PLUS: If you sign up before Jan 22, you can join the inaugural LANCE Accountability Club, a support group of like-minded freelancers to help you reach your professional goals this year.
There’s also an option to sign up as a Super Supporter, which gives you access to all of the above AND donates two annual subscriptions to underrepresented freelancers.
If you have any questions about membership or LANCE in general, check out the FAQs or email me by replying directly to this post.
As always, my never-ending gratitude to YOU for reading, sharing and supporting my work. I can’t wait to fight the good freelance fight with you in 2021 and bring about change for our community. I sincerely hope you’ll join me for what promises to be a wild ride 🚀