Go Offline: Freelancing can be lonely — shake it up

The reality of building your own freelance business is that you will spend more time than ever in front of your laptop, probably eating leftover pizza. Unlike the office setup, there’s not many people to talk to. People who get you. Unless you have a fellow freelancer roommate. Or a cat.

You’ll find yourself holed up in your apartment and skipping date nights. You’d likely rather spend time on social media building your network or perhaps in front of a Google Docs writing the day away than hanging out with friends.

These are things many people don’t talk about. Truth is, freelancing can be lonely. It’s nice to have a stable freelance business, but getting there requires being very comfortable with just yourself as you put in the extra time and effort to build those solid foundations. So, how can you make freelancing less lonely?

Build your own tiny community

On social media, on Slack, wherever you want. It doesn’t matter. What matters is to have people who get you and who will inspire you. I don’t remember why I created my Twitter account ages ago, but these past few years I’ve been using it solely to follow freelance writers, editors, and marketing people. And there’s no shortage of lessons to learn! I also can share my own stories and struggles.

It’s so easy to demand so much from ourselves. Seeing fellow freelancers and creative entrepreneurs talk about how their day isn’t going well reminds us that behind the fancy websites, the huge following, and the successful business, is a regular human being.

Create a “pep talk” folder

Take screenshots of all the positive things people say about your work and save them in one folder. I call mine, “pep talk.” Visit this folder regularly, but especially on days when your confidence is nowhere to be found. Doing things on your own sometimes means having no people to cheer you on. Thus, having something to remind you of the good work you’re doing will make freelancing feel less lonely.

Collaborate and diversify your services

This is a fun way to ease loneliness, especially if you’re a creative. Collaboration was probably one of my favorite things when I was a journalist. I enjoyed working with photographers who saw things and framed them differently than I would as a writer.

This is something any freelancer could do —find fellow creatives and figure out ways you could collaborate. Explore different projects or new and innovative approaches to doing your work. Whatever that is, having people to work with can greatly ease loneliness.

And speaking of work, you might also diversify your services. If you’re a coach or consultant, maybe consider serving both established businesses and freelancers. To have very different client pools could mean a learning curve for you. This could help expand your network faster, not to mention keep those creative juices going.

Maintain face-to-face key relationships

One of the reasons why freelancers hole up in their apartments is because they’re too focused on building their freelance business — plus, face-to-face meet-ups become exhausting. You may think you’re just too busy, and maybe you are.

As busy and tired as you may be, it’s still important to maintain face-to-face relationships with a few people. Your best friends, your family, your old co-workers, anyone… choose the people you’re excited to see and actually see them every now and then.

Each career and business path has its own pros and cons. To determine whether or not you really want to choose a certain path is to know if you can handle its cons. Freelancing can be lonely. This is why putting in the time and effort to build a network and collaborating with fellow freelancers is important.

It’s normal to miss things like having coffee with a coworker in the office kitchen as you get deeper into building your freelance business. However, there are many ways to bring more life into your newly chosen path. And most definitely, there are many ways to make freelancing fun!

We’re not yet done. Self-care is equally as important as business growth… Be sure not to miss our next Go Offline post.

CategoriesRemote Work
Tammy Danan
Tammy Danan

Tammy Danan is a storyteller who reports on environmental and social issues. She also covers productivity, creative pursuits, and the future of work. Her words have appeared in VICE, Audubon.org, ZEKE Magazine, Shutterstock, Toggl, among others. You may find her on Instagram @SlowFreelancing.