The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City Celebrates 20th Anniversary




Mike Sherry, PR Chair
The Freelance Exchange of KC
816.728.1359, [email protected]


The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The not-for-profit continues mission of serving advertising and marketing industry

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (August 7, 2023) — When Julie Cortés established The Freelance Exchange (FX) of Kansas City, she did not have a clear roadmap for the future of the not-for-profit. She just sensed a need among self-employed marketing and advertising professionals in the area.

“I don’t think I had any expectations, quite honestly,” she said. “I just had this idea and threw it out there to see if it would stick and, apparently, it has.”

Indeed it has — as FX is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The organization has accomplished a lot during the past two decades, including earning a 2017 national Stevie Award for being an outstanding organization.

Today, FX provides programming for self-employed graphic designers, copywriters, photographers, account managers, media buyers/planners, illustrators, videographers, and more categories. Events include monthly luncheon programs, happy hours and coffee meetups, an annual Freelance Bootcamp and an FX Portfolio Showcase, at which freelancers exhibit their work directly to prospective clients.

FX also provides an easy-to-use free resource to locate and hire freelance talent. During the last 20 years, hundreds of agencies and enterprises have turned to FX to assist them in locating freelancers for their advertising and marketing requirements. They can do this through the organization’s searchable membership database and member portfolios, and through the FX Portfolio Showcase.

Cortés, 49, offered her own reflections on FX’s 20th anniversary in a blog post she wrote earlier this year.

FX is holding a 20th-anniversary party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Brooksider Sportsbar & Grill, 6330 Brookside Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. More details and registration information is available here.

And now, Cortés is eyeing an expansion outside the Kansas City area.

She is working with the Freelancers Union, a national nonprofit based in New York City, to replicate the FX model in other communities. Freelancers in Buffalo, New York, Knoxville, Tennessee, and beyond have expressed interest in establishing chapters, perhaps as early as this fall.

Cortés has always considered the American Advertising Federation (AAF) as a template for FX, stemming from the fact that AAF is where she got her start volunteering for a professional organization. AAF has a national board and more than 120 local Ad Clubs nationwide, including the longstanding KC Ad Club, that have their own boards.

With assistance from the Freelancers Union, Cortés is ironing out the administrative details of creating the national organization and recruiting national board members.

The group has about 150 members today. FX’s membership numbers tend to ebb and flow throughout the years, having been larger during recessions when people lost their jobs. Cortés said FX has always been more about quality rather than quantity.

Cortés said that one secret of the organization’s success was keeping membership tightly focused on the advertising and marketing industry. FX caters to this specific audience so programming can be targeted and effective.

FX has also strived to erase the image of freelancers as fly-by-night workers who can’t hold a “real” job. FX members generally are serious small-business owners who have chosen the entrepreneurial path and, to Cortés, it is more a mindset than how someone characterizes their business.

“You could be a solopreneur, one-person agency, creative mercenary, gig worker — whatever you want to call yourself,” Cortés said, “there are tremendous benefits to be had from FX.”

A lot has changed since Cortés founded FX, with technology making it easier than ever to hang out your own shingle.

She said the work-from-home experience of many employees during the pandemic accelerated a growing trend toward solopreneurship. Half the workforce could be self-employed even well before the pre-pandemic estimate of 2027, Cortés said.

Whatever the case, she said, “We are primed and ready to help people when they go out on their own.”

About FX

The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City is a not-for-profit professional trade organization made up of advertising and marketing freelancers. Formed in 2003, the organization has become the premier resource for independent talent in Kansas City. FX offers its members continuing education, mentorship, support, collaboration, networking, social and promotional opportunities. More information can be found at

About Julie Cortés

An award-winning advertising/marketing copywriter, Julie Cortés has run her own freelance business for more than 25 years. Best known as the founder of The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City, Cortés created her own much-needed college-level course, Freelancing 101, and teaches as an adjunct professor at the world-renowned KC Art Institute. Recognized with awards dozens of times over for her work, leadership, volunteerism and community involvement, this freelance rockstar is regularly sought out for media interviews, public speaking, and business coaching for freelancers. Cortés is loving life, living out her passion of helping others succeed. More information can be found at