Sure, being a freelance writer has its perks, but one of the not-so-positive aspects is that it can be a lonely lifestyle if you let it.
While the benefits of working from home include avoiding traffic to work, a flexible schedule, and not being location-dependent, many freelancers miss that ‘chatter around the water cooler’.
Not to worry; this downside can easily be combatted with a little bit of planning on your side.
Here are six tips for beating loneliness when working as a freelancer:
1. Network with other freelance writers.
There are several great platforms where you can find like-minded people. You can either arrange to meet up regularly if you’re in the same area, or meet for Zoom chats around the ‘virtual water cooler’.
MeetUp is one example of a platform, and you’ll find them in most major areas, with subgroups based on interests, so you can join board game evenings, wine appreciation events, hikes, volunteering as well as networking events in different industries such as IT. This platform has a phone app that informs you when events are taking place, with lists of their members and their interests so you can reach out to others in your field of work or with similar social interests.
Joining a writing guild in your country is another way to connect with other freelance writers. Google ‘freelance writing guild’ or ‘freelance writing society’ and the name of your country.
2. If you’re freelancing while travelling, check out expat meetup groups in the area.
Many members are working remotely too and these get-togethers are great for networking – you may even find your next job or lead at one! But don’t keep all the talk to work; be sure to socialise too.
InterNations hold regular events worldwide and online.
3. You’ll also find Facebook and LinkedIn groups for freelance writers.
These are great for networking as well as support. Look for ones online both in your physical location (for meetups) and in your area of expertise (for networking and support – this doesn’t have to be in your area).
Here’s an article that lists 12 popular freelance writing groups on Facebook.
4. Don’t procrastinate!
Even if you work from home, as great as it is to have a flexible schedule, it’s best to still have a routine when possible. Make use of your calendar app on your phone or computer and be sure to schedule time to work, time to meet up with other remote workers, time to exercise, and time for self-care. If you don’t actually schedule these things, they won’t happen! You are in control of your networking and social life.
Create a list of assignments and tasks, and add it to your calendar. Mark it off as done when complete – this can be extremely satisfying. Sticking to your schedule will allow enough time for meetups. Think about how you had coffee and lunch breaks in the office environment, or ‘TGIF Friday evening after work drinks’. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same with your freelancer friends.
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5. Find a mentor, someone you respect in the writing industry.
Bounce ideas off them in much the same way as you’d go to your boss or colleagues to run ideas past them in the office. If you are working remotely for a company, this could be someone within the organisation. If you’re a freelancer, this could be someone you’ve met via networking.
6. If you write from home, consider using a co-working space.
These are fantastic places to meet other freelancers and get a feel of being in the office. Google ‘shared spaces’ or ‘co-working offices’ in your area.
You’ll have access to a desk, printers, the internet, and coffee stations. Some even arrange events. Most of these allow you to book a space for a day, a week or a month at a time. It’s a great way to be a location-independent worker, but still have that feeling of ‘going to work’.