Freelancers come in all types. Some of us are extroverts who thrive on social interaction while others are introverts who prefer their alone time. No matter which category you fall into, freelancing can be a little isolating. So, it's understandable that you may feel lonely from time to time.
Fighting loneliness as a freelancer can be tricky, but that doesn't mean you have to wallow in seclusion. If you're looking for ways to make freelancing less lonely, you're in the right place.
This article offers 10 ways to nip loneliness in the bud and keep you focused and engaged with your work.
10 Ways to Make Freelancing Less Lonely
Whether you're new to freelancing or an old pro, managing a solo business while working from home can be a lonely endeavor. But it doesn't have to be! Here's how to make freelancing less lonely.
01. Join an Online Freelancing Community
Connecting with like-minded freelancers can make freelancing less lonely. How do you do that? Well, with so much of freelancing being done virtually, it only makes sense to turn to the internet to find a freelance community. And there are plenty to choose from!
- Join the conversation on a freelance-focused blog. Blogs like Freelancer FAQs are excellent resources for finding answers to common questions and quality advice from people who have been where you are. But, they're also great for making connections with fellow freelancers. Many even offer Facebook groups to help freelancers connect more easily.
- Take to social media. Another great resource for finding an online freelance community is social media. Check out The Freelance Writers' Connection or Freelancer Hub on LinkedIn. Search for freelance-oriented groups on Facebook and join the ones that interest you. A great one to check out is The Rising Tide Society.
- Ask other freelancers. Although freelancing is often a solo endeavor, freelancers love supporting each other. So, don't be shy about asking freelancers in your orbit (we're talking Twitter acquaintances, the comments section of a freelance blog, Reddit — you name it) for recommendations on freelance communities to join.
Joining a freelance community can be a little intimidating. But, if you want to make freelancing less lonely, you can't let something like nerves or feelings of imposter syndrome stop you.
Freelance communities are welcoming places and once you join, you'll have a whole group of people rooting for you to succeed!
02. Attend Networking Events
Whether you attend in-person or virtual events, networking can make freelancing less lonely. Attending networking events helps build relationships with like-minded people and makes the freelancing experience more engaging.
Not sure where to find networking events?
The Rising Tide Society has local chapters that host meet-ups for freelancers in cities throughout the United States. Each monthly meeting is coordinated by local industry leaders who pick a business topic to kickstart the meeting. From there, attendees are encouraged to chat, share business tips, and discuss their ideas.
Another option is to check out weekly networking events hosted by your Chamber of Commerce. Most chambers allow non-members to attend one or two events for free so they can decide if it's the right fit for them. While joining a chamber isn't for everyone, attending an event or two gives you the chance to connect with your local business community — and potentially gain a client or two!
03. Connect With a Mentor
With a million tasks on your plate, finding a mentor may not have even been on your radar. But it should be! There are many benefits of working with a mentor.
For those who want to make freelancing less lonely, mentorship helps them feel more socially connected. Working with a mentor also ensures you have guidance and support throughout your freelance journey and can help your freelance business be more successful.
So, how do you find a mentor?
Unfortunately, not everyone will have someone in their professional network that instantly springs to mind. So, you'll have to get a little creative. This is another occasion where networking works in your favor.
According to Entrepreneur, networking “allows you to connect with other freelancers and business owners so you can learn from what they've experienced over the course of their careers. This can help you find a mentor who's also gone through the challenges of becoming a freelancer.”
In addition to networking, consider looking into local programs with organizations like SCORE or the Chamber of Commerce and economic development firms in your city. An accelerator program like the one offered through the Entrepreneurs' Organization can also be a good way to get business support and coaching.
04. Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks can help prevent fatigue and boredom. It can also make freelancing more rewarding because it gives you something to look forward to throughout your work day.
Worried taking a break will disrupt your workflow and tank your productivity? Although that does happen, breaks can also do the opposite. In fact, studies support taking breaks as a way to improve your productivity and focus.
Stepping away from your work for 10-20 minutes every few hours:
- Helps you feel refreshed
- Gives you a new perspective
- Provides a creative boost
- Increases energy levels
- Lowers stress and anxiety
The key is to take the right kind of break.
A productive break helps you briefly detach from work and diminish feelings of stress. Ideally, your break activity should be something you both enjoy and that is completely different from work.
How you spend your break also has the power to decrease feelings of loneliness.
For at least one of your daily breaks, make sure do to something social. Go to the dog park with your pup, call up a friend or family member to chat, visit your favorite coffee shop, or have a play break with your kids.
05. Pursue Interests Outside of Work
Freelancing can take a toll on your creativity, which only amplifies the feelings of loneliness that come with being a business of one. Having hobbies and interests outside of work gives you something else to focus on and can even give you a creative boost.
Feels easier said than done? You're not alone!
Freelancers are usually pretty busy and it can feel difficult to make time for non-work things during the day, but it is possible. More importantly, you should make time for your hobbies and interests.
Doing the things that bring you joy can help you feel more connected with yourself and breaks up the monotony that often accompanies freelancing. Plus, it gives you a reason to get together with friends and people who enjoy the same hobbies as you.
06. Make Use of Online Collaboration Tools
Another way to make freelancing less lonely is to utilize online collaboration tools. Messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams make it easy to connect with clients remotely.
You can also use these tools to collaborate with other freelancers. Simply exchange contact info or set up a group for subcontractors you work with regularly or freelancers you often network with.
Jess at Freelance to Fortune created a Slack group for freelance writers to connect and interact like co-workers. The group is free to join and gives freelancers the opportunity to meet new people, ask questions, share advice, and more.
07. Go Where the People Are
As freelancers, we have the ability to work wherever there's an internet connection — and sometimes that's not even needed! That said, a good majority of us choose to work from home more often than not.
When you're stuck at home, alone, day in and day out, it can start to wear on you. One of the best ways to break up the monotony — and hopefully speak to someone other than your cat — is a change of scenery.
When you're feeling lonely and disconnected from the rest of the world, pack up your laptop and head to your favorite coffee shop, bookstore, diner, local library, or where ever you feel comfortable. Sometimes, all you need is to simply be around other people and experience the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If you're really missing the office atmosphere, consider a membership to a coworking space. Some cities may even offer free access or discounted day passes.
08. Schedule Social Activities
One of the biggest benefits of freelancing is having complete control over your schedule. That gives you the freedom to schedule lunches with friends, take a break to browse the bookstore, attend a networking event, block off time for volunteering — whatever you want!
Sure, it may seem obvious that spending time with friends and family is a great way to beat the loneliness of freelancing. That said, it's likely your schedule won't always allow for mid-day social activities. But that doesn't mean you can't still make time for friends and family. It's all about balance!
- Make a plan to Facetime or call a friend over lunch
- Meet up with friends for happy hour at the end of the day
- Schedule a regular workout session with a friend
- Join a weekend book club, hiking club, etc.
- Set up weekly family dinners
Being a freelancer means you're a master of your time. Make sure to use it to your advantage!
09. Adopt a Pet
If you live alone, freelancing may feel even more lonely. There's no one to greet at the end of the workday or to talk about your day with while making dinner. Getting a roommate may not be the answer, but there is another option to consider: adopting a pet.
Taking care of a pet is a very rewarding experience. And control over your schedule means you can take breaks to go on a walk or visit the dog park, play with a toy, or cuddle up with your pet on the couch.
But, don't adopt a pet on a whim just to make freelancing less lonely!
A pet is an extension of your family, and it relies on you to take care of it. So, it's critical to really consider what it means to be a pet owner before adopting a pet. You need to be honest about whether you have the environment, time, energy, and finances to properly care for a pet. If the answer is no, don't force it. The timing may not be right just yet, but that doesn't mean it won't be in the future.
Volunteering is an excellent way to boost your social interactions and help your community. It's a total win. Block off time in your calendar once or twice a week to help out at a charitable organization you're interested in, such as a local animal shelter or food pantry.
Gifting your time to local organizations helps you meet new people you may not have crossed paths with otherwise. And it feels good!
There you have it: 10 ways to make freelancing less lonely. If working from home as a freelancer is making you feel disconnected socially, give the tips above a shot.
Did you find this article helpful? You may also want to check out these guides on preventing digital burnout as an online business owner and setting effective boundaries with freelance clients.