Interview with Carolyn Bothwell, Founder of Freelance Founders

Lara Vandenberg

Carolyn Bothwell is the founder of Freelance Founders™, a digital, members-only community that empowers creative and marketing freelancers to build financially viable careers. She is a seasoned creative with a background in brand strategy copywriting. With a distinct knack for merging storytelling with strategy, she has worked on the branding and launches for many emerging direct-to-consumer brands. When she is not working, you can find her walking her dog with her fiance in Boston, MA.

TS: At Publicist, we are big fans of Freelance Founders. Can you talk us through how you started Freelance Founders and what your initial motivation was in launching the community? 

I’ve been full-time freelance as a brand strategist and copywriter for 3+ years. And, I knew right from the start that freelance was what I wanted to do long-term. I think there’s often a misconception that freelancing is something creatives do in between jobs, but that’s really not the case for many of us.  

As a freelancer, you’re really the founder of your own business. You have to set up as a legal entity, get a business bank account, invoice, pay taxes, etc. I felt like there weren’t many resources that focused on the business side of freelancing – and no one was really celebrating these independent creatives as the entrepreneurs that they are.

When COVID hit and more creatives were joining the freelance force, I decided to launch Freelance Founders to provide much-needed resources and community, and I hoped to empower people to feel comfortable and excited about their choice of working independently. 

TS: Since launching Freelance Founders, what changes have you observed in the world of freelancing, and what do you predict for its future?

Since launching Freelance Founders in July 2020, I’ve seen an increase in creatives making the leap to full-time freelance. Much of this because of the impact of COVID 19. There are a number of studies that show that this freelance force will only continue to grow in the coming years. And, anecdotally, I’ve been noticing more and more job opportunities available for freelancers as businesses pivot more and more to digital solutions. I predict that companies will begin to see the value of working with freelancers and consultants more and continue to do so in the future. 

TS: Follow up, and have you observed any aspects of the freelancing world that could be improved? 

 YES. Do you have all day? But, on the bright side, there are so many solutions that are popping up to solve some of the challenges that freelancers face on a daily basis. Publicist is helping connect talent to opportunities. Catch is helping provide benefits for people without benefits. Wethos is helping freelance creatives scale into a studio. Wingspan is making it easier to invoice. And the list goes on.

TS: COVID-19 has undeniably accelerated the move of a lot of talent to freelance. What trends do you think will change and what do you think will revert to pre-pandemic life?

I definitely have some predictions on this. I think corporate companies will be more flexible and more willing to work with remote or freelance talent. I think that more talent will go freelance in order to maintain flexibility and freedom. And, I hope that many of the women that were affected by COVID 19 and had to leave the workforce, will consider freelancing as an alternative to a corporate job if they are interested in returning to work.

TS: You have built a wonderful community with Freelance Founders. What does community mean to you? 

Community is so important – to everyone, but especially to independent workers. There’s no better feeling than surrounding yourself with people who get it, who have been there, who can provide advice or lend an ear. My community has always pushed me to be better – as a creative and as a person. Plus, our Freelance Founders community is really reciprocal. Most of my client leads come directly from my friends in the industry. 

TS: 2020 has been a pivotal year for inclusion; the conversation feels immensely different. How can we continue and drive this conversation through with actions? 

Absolutely. I think as freelancers we have a unique opportunity to hold our clients accountable. And, as an industry, we can all do better. It’s not always enough just to keep the dialogue going, we have to lead with action. Sometimes that means sacrificing egos. We should listen to the diverse voices around us and continue to drive transparency around rates. It’s also never been easier to find and hire diverse talent. (Check out c0ffe3 on LinkedIn.)

TS: At Freelance Founders, you have launched the Apprenticeship Program. Can you talk us through this initiative? 

Yes! The Apprenticeship Program was a six-week professional development program that paired recent grads or career transitioners with established creative and marketing talent. Throughout the program, our mentors guided their apprentices through a portfolio project, while providing them with accountability and guidance. We just wrapped up at the end of October – and it was a really incredible experience. We’ll be posting our apprentices projects on Instagram in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

TS: And how can we get involved? 

We will run our Apprenticeship Program quarterly and anyone can volunteer as a mentor or apprentice. And, if you’re interested in joining Freelance Founders, we’re now accepting applications on a rolling basis. For more information, check out our Membership page. 

TS: What has been your silver lining of 2020? 

Launching Freelance Founders and meeting so many new inspiring people. Also, on a personal note, I got engaged over the summer! 

TS: And any predictions for 2021… 

We’re de-stigmatizing freelancers and embracing them as the independent entrepreneurs that they are! 

Where can we find you?

Freelance Founders

Freelance Founders Instagram

Carolyn's Portfolio

Carolyn’s Instagram