Shake Logo

5 Lessons Freelancers Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

5 Lessons Freelancers Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge seems to be everywhere these days. Everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey to the staff of a certain NYC-based legal startup seem to be participating in the Internet phenomenon. Whether you’re a fan or a detractor, it cannot be denied that the campaign has been wildly successful.

The ALS Association reports that more than 1.7 million have made donations over the past four weeks, resulting in nearly $80 million. In comparison, the organization raised $64 million for all of 2013.

Aside from being a fundraising powerhouse, the Ice Bucket Challenge carries with it a number of valuable lessons for freelancers establishing their businesses.

Lesson 1: Networking Is Powerful

A key part of the Ice Bucket Challenge is that a person challenges three of his friends, each of whom in turn challenges three of their friends, and so on. Looking at the Ice Bucket Challenge, it becomes pretty evident that simple networking can quickly spread well beyond your immediate circle.

When freelancers are looking for clients, one of the best places to turn to is their friends, family and colleagues. Even if you don’t know anyone who needs your services for themselves, they may know someone who does. Be sure to keep your personal network abreast of your business, because it could lead to your next big job.

Lesson 2: Social Media Has Wide Reach

The Ice Bucket Challenge could not exist without social media. Participants film themselves performing the stunt and then publicly challenge other people on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and various other social media outlets.

Social media can also be a very valuable tool when building your business. It can be a way to find jobs,  establish your credibility, or highlight your portfolio. Don’t neglect your social media presence when setting up your business.

Lesson 3: Simple Terms

The premise of the Ice Bucket Challenge is very straightforward. A person has a set amount of time (24 hours) to perform a certain task (either dumping a bucket of ice water over their head and/or donating money to an ALS charity). If the person succeeds, they get to nominate more people. If they don’t succeed, they have to live with the public shame.

Similarly, when freelancers are starting a job, they should clearly define time frames and deliverables with their clients in the form of a contract. The contract should also state the job reward (i.e. your fee) and the consequences for not following through with the assignment or the payment. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid missteps down the road.

Lesson 4: Stand Out From The Crowd

YouTube has over a million Ice Bucket Challenge videos. Although they all have the same overall premise, each one has its own style and uniqueness.

The number of freelance workers is rapidly growing. Many of them are very talented and many of them are very skilled. When building your freelance business, don’t forget to also create a brand to showcase what makes you special.

Lesson 5: Don’t Forget To Give Back

While the Ice Bucket Challenge is a lot fun, it’s important to remember that, at its core, it’s raising money for a very serious cause.

Once you’ve figured out how to be a successful freelancer, don’t forget about the younger generation. Sharing tips, offering career advice or serving as a mentor are all great ways that established freelancers can help to build a strong freelancing community.


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has implications beyond the fundraising world. By incorporating lessons from the Challenge, you can give your freelance career a boost.