Top 3 Coworking Resources You’re Not Using

Coworking is a state of mind, a community, and most importantly- a unique global movement. But figuring out how to get the most out of this rapidly expanding, concept of working can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Coworking is a state of mind, a community, and most importantly- a unique global movement. But figuring out how to get the most out of this rapidly expanding, concept of working can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

Coworking Google Group

This group acts as a support structure and discussion network amongst people interested in coworking on any level: as a catalyst, as a space owner or as a coworker. You’re welcome to lurk here, and learn silently from the knowledge and questions of others, but it’s even more of a resource if you introduce yourself and participate in the discussion. Learn more…

Coworking Wiki

If you’re looking for a place to cowork while traveling, or are just interested in watching and/or supporting the growth of the movement, this is the resource for you. Successful business models, best practices, and 700+ pages of user generated knowledge can be found on the Wiki, as well as information about the Coworking Visa Program, space directory, and coworking events list.

Global Coworking Blog

Want to share your experience about coworking in a new space? Want to find out what other coworkers are struggling with or challenged by? Got tips that all coworkers should be aware of? Share it on the blog. Press, announcements, and industry research can also be found on the Global Coworking Blog. In true coworking fashion, any and all coworkers are invited to submit posts to this page.

Image Credit: Flickr – usefulguy

How To: Create a Local Meet-up Group for Freelancers

8 (easy!) steps for creating a local meet-up group for other freelancers and small business owners.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Hello My Name is... by bump on Flickr
Host a local meet-up group--it's easy!

Coworking naturally creates community—it’s the beauty of freelancers and independents working together in a shared office space. No doubt you’ve benefited from this coworking community goodness. But have you ever thought about having a group that is more focused on a niche you’re interested in? Here are 8 easy steps for how to create a local meet-up group for other freelancers and small business owners.

1. Choose a topic & purpose.

Who do you want to get together and why? Do you want to get freelance web designers together to talk about the latest Adobe Illustrator shortcuts, or would you rather get people from diverse professional backgrounds together to talk about a specific industry? There are limitless themes around which to organize a meet-up. Make it specific, but allow yourself some creativity! (For example, a meet-up named “Freelance Writers”? Boring. A meet-up named “Freelance Writers Who Care About Going Green”? That’s more like it!)

2. Ask two people to join you.

“Two?! Only two people?!” you shriek. Settle down. Ask two people who would fit the niche meet-up group to help you. For example, two other programmers if it’s for a programming group, or two other freelancers interested in non-profit organizations. Not only will having two other minds make choosing a time and venue easier, it will help diversify and grow the meet-up. And even if it’s just the three of you that end up attending the first meet-up, three people can do a lot of brainstorming and sharing.

3. Choose a time.

Check to ensure that your meet-up idea isn’t already happening somewhere in your area. If a similar group exists—great! Offer to join forces. If not, make sure your meet-up doesn’t conflict with other events in the area. Will the event be weekly, monthly or bimonthly? Will attendees likely have availability before, during or after work hours, or perhaps on the weekend?

4. Choose a venue.

Coffee shops, restaurants with private rooms and local community centers are a great place to find free or low-cost space for your group. But y’know what would be even better? Ask your coworking space if you can use the space during an off-time (evenings or weekends).

5. Set up an online event.

There are several online tools that allow you to share event description, time and venue with others. Make it simple for potential attendees to find the pertinent who/what/where/when/why info. Some easy-to-use online event tools include:

6. Share the event with your network.

  • Post information about the meetup at your coworking space.
  • Tell your friends on Facebook and your followers on Twitter.
  • Talk about it on your blog.
  • Announce it at other events you attend (but only if it’s relevant!).
  • Share with your professional groups.
  • Send an email to friends, former colleagues and anyone else in your network that seems like a perfect fit for the meet-up (especially if it’s someone that might not use Facebook or Twitter very often).

7. Be prepared.

If the meet-up group is hosted at your coworking space, do you want to provide snacks or refreshments? Or perhaps you’ll need a whiteboard & markers, a giant brainstorming notepad, or a laptop for taking notes and looking up websites. An LCD project and screen? Nametags and markers? Think again about the topic and purpose of the meet-up group, and ensure you have all the materials and “little things” needed to make it a great event.

8. Have fun!

The meet-up group you’ve helped create should be fun, information-rich and valuable for everyone involved. Enjoy it!

Why have a meet-up? Because it builds community. Because you can share resources, tips & tactics. Because you can help someone else by sharing your knowledge and skills. Because it’s awesome to hang out with other awesome people. (That’s awesomeness squared!)

Have you ever started a local meet-group? What worked and what didn’t? Tell us below in the comments!

Image Credit: Flickr – bump

3 Reasons Broke Freelancers Should Be Coworking

You might think that being broke means you can’t afford coworking, but here are three reasons why you can’t afford not to.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Leaving a traditional job for the freewheeling life of an independent professional is exhilarating in many ways: you decide your schedule, choose your clients, and finally realize the dream of going to work in your pajamas.

One less-exhilarating consequence of becoming a freelancer is that you lose the security of a regular paycheck. Traditional professionals know that check is going to magically appear every two weeks, regardless of whether they worked their ass off or spent most of the week sneaking cat naps at their desks.

Not so for the brave freelancer. When you’re self-employed, no work means no pay. Period.

If you’ve recently decided to branch out on your own, you’re probably already feeling twinges of that deep abdominal panic that  occurs when the bank account dips below the ‘safety’ level. You might think that being broke means you can’t afford coworking.

Here are three reasons why you can’t afford to not be coworking.

New Opportunities – They abound in a coworking space. Whether it’s bartering work with your neighbor, or raising your hand when someone says, “Hey, I have a friend that’s looking for someone to upgrade her website,” coworking attracts work. There’s also the chance that your coworker will see an online job posting you missed, or tell you in advance that their company is looking for some contract help. If you’re not there, you won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Encouragement – You know that panic I mentioned earlier? You’re not the only one that’s felt it. Every single freelancer or business owner has felt that same fear, and lain awake at night wondering how they would make ends meet. Belonging to a community of empathetic freelancers will allow you share those fears without embarrassment or judgment. Better yet, you’ll get free advice (ok therapy) from experienced entrepreneurs about how to budget, survive, and find new work.

Distraction – Being broke isn’t any fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your days hidden in your home office. Instead of retreating from this unique and often difficult life, embrace it. Use your coworking community as a sounding board for ideas, attend networking events and schedule meet-ups. Relax. Laugh. Remember that you chose freelancing because it’s what makes you happy, not because it will make you a millionaire.

Image Credit: Flickr – katerha

Two Simple Ways to Build Community

You can help build community in your coworking space by doing two simple things: ask and promote.

Coworking is not just about freelancers sharing desks, chairs, and wi-fi. It’s about connections, interactions, conversations, collaborations. In a word, coworking is about community. Independents working together is a testament to how coworking both fosters and sustains community. And you can help build community by doing two simple things: ask and promote.

Just ask!

1. Ask
Believe it or not, if you ask someone for help in a way that’s respectful of their time and knowledge, you’ll probably make their day! What better way to build community than recognizing the awesomeness in others?

  • Ask another member to join you for coffee. Grab coffee or lunch with another member—perhaps someone you don’t yet know very well; snack breaks never hurt anyone.
  • Ask another member for help or feedback on one of your projects. And perhaps offer to treat them to the aforementioned snacks in return for their time!
  • Ask other members for some funny. Does that sound kinda silly? It should! Ask your neighbor if they’ve read a funny blog post or seen something funny lately. Laughing is always a great way to connect!

2. Promote

Fistbump lion
Promoting is like fist-bumping.

We’re not talkin’ about smarmy self-promotion. Oh no. We’re talking about promoting others. As you grow your own business, you can contribute to your coworking community by helping to promote others—in small and big ways. It’s kind of like a community fist-bump.

  • Comment on fellow members’ blog posts. Many freelancers members have blogs, whether personal or business. Pop by every once in awhile to leave a comment.
  • Retweet or share on Facebook another member’s latest website design or their latest article. If you think a fellow freelancer is doing interesting work, share that work with your networks.
  • Refer work. You’re writing content for your client’s website, and they mention that they need help with website design. There’s probably another member (or four) that you could potentially refer work to.

The great thing about asking and promoting is that it works like community karma: if you ask and promote others, in turn they will likely do the same for you.

Image Credit: Flicker – otama | sarah sosiak

Thinking Outside-the-Office at CAMP Coworking in Omaha, Nebraska

Sunny, light-hearted, open, bright.

These are the adjectives that come to mind when coworking in Omaha’s newest collaborative workspace, CAMP Omaha.

Snuggled secretively inside a former furniture warehouse that’s getting a creative make-over, CAMP has the feel of a 1950′s elementary classroom gone horribly right.

Gone are the intrusive fluorescent lights and clumsy chalkboard. In their place are giant windows, spacious desks, comfy couches, and a map of America so giant it’ll make you want to want to play Twister all over the Midwest.

In its own words, “CAMP is a dream realized through creative friends, late night pancake runs, Double Dead Guys, supportive parents, great friendships and a passion to give back to Omaha.” Translation: if you’re into private offices and library-like workspaces, don’t bother going to CAMP.

BUT! If you like comparing musical playlists, longboarding to the bathroom, and pulling all-nighters with freelance fashion designers,  software programmers, writers, and photographers…CAMP has a bunk with your name on it.

Wanna learn more? Follow @CAMPomaha on Twitter or join their page on Facebook. If you’re passing through Nebraska, be sure to stop in and say hi to Megan and the whole CAMP gang.  (And be on the lookout for the wandering mannequin!).

Click here for more pics of the CAMP Omaha coworking space.

@GoneCoworking is the adventure of Beth and Eric, two crazy kids traveling the country to find out whether it’s really possible to be a location independent freelancer! The coworking community provides a unique opportunity for traveling telecommuters/freelancers/business owners to have a professional workspace and remain connected with their peers while away from home. Here’s an inside look at some of the coworking people and spaces we’ve met along the way!

5 tips to start a coworking community

A few months ago, I decided that Beijing really needed a coworking location, and I would be the one to build it.  I immediately started to look at office leases here and quickly became discouraged because of the extremely high cost.  At the same time, however, I’d been reading  about lean startup techniques and customer development for my own startup.  Lean startups focus on ensuring product-market fit before investing a lot of resources, so I decided to apply some of these ideas to my coworking project.  I’m glad I did, because they forced me to slow down and saved me from making an expensive mistake.

If you’re also starting a coworking space and would like to know how I’m starting small and building up, here is the process I’ve used so far:

1. First, you have to find out who in your area is interested in coworking and what they are looking for.  I set up a free survey on to ask some simple questions and so I would have a link that I could forward people to.

In my opinion, the most important questions here are ‘Why are you interested in coworking?’, ‘Where would you like us to be located?’, and ‘What’s your email address/name?’.  These tell you who what types of people will form the core of your community, where they are, and how to contact them.  I also asked a lot of other questions including ‘How often would you want to work at a coworking space?’, and how important each of a whole list of possible amenities would be.

One mistake I made on this survey is that I asked about price in a multiple choice question – everyone chose the least expensive option.  A better way to ask the same question would be to only ask ‘Would you be willing to pay $X per day/month?’  The best would probably be to randomize the price that gets shown to people, so you can tell when people actually start to hesitate.

You can see my whole survey here:

2.  In order to get answers, you need to start distributing your survey, so start by thinking about where you think potential coworking are hanging out now. Twitter can work if you get someone with a lot of followers to retweet, but coworking is very local, so other techniques might work best for you.  If you just start talking to people at coffee shops and events, you’ll probably find a lot of people who are interested.  Get their contact info and follow up by sending them a link to your survey.  If you want to spend money, you can also put up an adsense campaign for things like ‘<name of city> coworking’ ‘<name of city> shared office’.  This has the added advantage of letting you know how actively people in your area are looking for coworkiing.

3.  You can’t have too much context on a survey, so put up some blog posts as well. Especially if your area doesn’t have anything coworking related, it should be easy to start ranking highly for important keywords.  This is much cheaper than an advertising campaign if it works.  Make sure your survey and your blog link to each other; you wouldn’t want people who come to the blog to not be able to find your survey.

4.  As soon as you have some responses, you should start an email list. I use MailChimp to manage mine, and it’s really easy.  This is far better than BCCing people on emails like I did at first.  For one thing, it gives people an easy way to opt-out just by clicking a link in your email.  Another is that you can keep track of how many people are reading your newsletter and manage your users easily.  I now automatically add people to an ‘important updates’ email list; basically, I’ll email them when we’re about to officially open.

5.  Once you’ve done all these easy steps and have found a few interested people, think about the minimum, most valuable part of what you are offering – generally, that is the community that you want to build. You should see if there’s a way to get people hooked on that without needing to invest in real estate immediately.  For me, this is getting people to work together informally.  I have a second email list for people who want to start working together right away.  I actually think Google Groups might be a better option for this step because it supports discussions, but that’s blocked in China, so I can’t use it here.

There are lots of coffee shops in Beijing, so every week I decide where I’ll work each day and send out an email on Sunday evening.  This has been really helpful in getting community around this idea and we can also start appreciating the benefits of working together sooner.  In person, you have much more in-depth conversations with people and gauge their interest better, so maybe you can even find some of them who are really excited and can help by suggesting locations, paying for a month in advance, etc.

If the coffee shops in your city aren’t very good for working, maybe you can find some other way to begin creating the community.  Perhaps get people together for dinner or run a jelly in your apartment every once in a while.

Right now, this is where I am in Beijing.  My next step is to look again at places to rent.  Two or three people who have been participating in our informal coworking group have already said they’d like to be core members in the beginning.  Unlike when I first looked at offices, I think I’m going to concentrate on finding an apartment to convert – these are generally smaller and less expensive, with more flexible leases, so three people is already enough to make the cost per person very reasonable.  Boston’s Betahouse also works out of an apartment, and it was great to visit.  It’s relatively small, but everyone is productive and there’s a very strong community, which is exactly what I’d like here.

I hope that if you’re considering starting a coworking location, some of these tips will be useful to you as well.

If you’d like to read more about coworking in Beijing, feel free to check out my blog at

Getting Busy at Impromtpu Studio in Des Moines, Iowa

Driving through Iowa on our way to Des Moines revealed exactly what you might expect about a midwestern state: corn, tractors, wind farms, and more corn. But nestled inconspicuously in a warehouse just outside the downtown area is a hothouse for creativity and technical innovation called Impromptu Studio.

As Iowa’s first home for coworking, Impromptu is proud to have inspired others with the spirit of coworking and led the way in igniting growth in Iowa’s technology scene.

The mix of coworkers that call this comfortable space home is eclectic and refreshing. From artists and writers, to developers and remote workers, many different types of people have come to depend on the community and collaborative potential of Impromptu Studio.

Chatting with @catrocketship, it was easy to see that a common coworking problem affected the professionals in this space as well: the inability to avoid coming up with new projects, business ideas, and website themes on a daily basis. Coworkers are constantly inventing and creating, a process that is effortless when working an elbow’s length away from likeminded people.

The other half of this delightful spacecrew, @scottrocketship, was clearly passionate about what coworking can do for the still-developing cultural and technological scene in Iowa. Striving to push the envelope, whether it be throwing rockin’ parties or offering the only voice of criticism in room full of yes-men, it’s creative thinkers like Scott that will continue to reinvent coworking into something even better.

@DanielShipton is the space’s founder, and dedicated advocate of the coworking lifestyle. CEO of @BitMethod a company that has quickly grown to support five employees, Daniel refuses to retreat to private office space. Instead, his company proudly inhabits the upper section of the loft space, happily brainstorming and inventing out in the open at a long conference table.

In the future, Daniel sees coworking as a recruiting tool for technology companies like BitMethod. Companies that contract out their work to freelancers can offer a cafe-like space on the company grounds as a way to take the “remote” out of remote worker. Morale and productivity go up, while the company is able to keep wasted space and resources down. And the company will have a built-in pool of awesome people to pick from when it’s time to expand.

If you’re ever passing through Iowa, I highly recommend stopping into say hi to the coworkers at Impromptu. Even if it’s just for an afternoon Mario Kart tournament.

Follow them on Twitter: @ImpromptuStudio

Join them on

Wiki Cleanup Effort

We have been making great progress cleaning up the coworking wiki and eradicating spam.  The first step is to start a moderator group that approves/denies people who would like to make edits.  This is a pretty easy step as folks who are not interested in coworking and only want to add links and such generally don’t try very hard.  Will Bennis from Locus Workspace in Prague personally writes everyone who doesn’t include a message in their sign up request and only one in four write him back.  We also keep a close eye on the changes RSS feed and jump in and clean house when someone mucks things up.

The space listing has been cleaned up too and moved into a specific Directory page.  We have also kicked off The Coworking Database Project aimed at creating better searching functionality.  The end result will be a fully decoupled data set with APIs to hook into various interfaces around the net.  For example, imagine the data behind Coworking in Deutschland was centralized and they were able to pull just the German spaces to power their list and map.  If you would like to get involved in that project we have a mailing we use for collaboration and it’s all listed on the project splash page.

If you are interested in helping out with the wiki cleanup work, or would like to make suggestions, just drop me a line at jacob [at] officenomads [dot] com.


Four Questions With Gerard Sychay of Cincinnati Coworks

Author: @GoneCoworking is the adventure of Beth and Eric, two crazy kids traveling the country to prove that it really is possible to be a location independent freelancer! The coworking community provides a unique opportunity for traveling telecommuters/freelancers/business owners to have a professional workspace and remain connected with their peers while away from home. Here’s an inside look at some of the coworking people and spaces we’ve met along the way!

Chatting with Gerard of Cincinnati Coworks

GC: How were you first introduced to the concept of coworking?

Gerard: Honestly, I don’t remember at this point. I knew about coworking for the longest time, but I mistakenly defined it as rented office space. When I had the glimmer of a wink of a thought about opening one I started digging deeper and realized that coworking was very different from office suites.

GC: What are the benefits/challenges of coworking?

Gerard: I like to tell people that coworking offers self-employed workers all the benefits of working in an office, and none of the bad stuff. That is, you get to chat with colleagues, go to lunch with them, but nobody answers to anyone, so there is no boss, no politics.

The primary challenge with coworking is really the working environment. Working in an open space, next to one another, is not for everyone. Working in a dusty loft, with second-hand furniture is not for everyone.

GC: What sets Cincy Coworks apart from other facilities a traveling freelancer might visit?

Gerard: If you are a freelancer and work in Cincy Coworks you will be working right next to someone who is at least somewhat like-minded. Our current space is too small to avoid this.

There are plenty of office suites in town. Even better, market rates are so low right now, that you could get your own office for cheap. But you won’t talk to anyone and you will work alone. And if you work alone, why not just stay working at home?

GC: I love how part of your slogan is “not just for working.” What other benefits does coworking provide for entrepreneurs/freelancers that an office suite can’t?

Gerard: In addition to the benefits above, we are located in an up-and-coming neighborhood with a coffeeshop, an Asian restaurant, an organic market and deli, all within a couple blocks.

We’d like to hold more evening and weekend events and encourage our members to hold events, but this is a work in progress.

Check out this cool video for a sneak pick into life at Cincy Coworks!

If you’re in the Cincinnati area, and are looking for a place to cowork, you’ll be please to know that Cincy Coworks is a proud member of the Coworking Visa program, and are happy to welcome drop in visitors any time they’re open. Follow @cincycoworks on Twitter, or head over to to learn more!