Overcoming the loneliness of freelancing

There are some great benefits in being self-employed. A whole stack of advantages came out of a recent post on the best things about freelancing and the comments.However, it’s not all plain sailing. One of the benefits of a normal nine-to-five job is the contact with other people. In another recent post I mentioned that loneliness is one of the potential disadvantages of the freelance life.
I’m a fairly gregarious person by nature. While I’m OK with my own company, there are days when I thirst for some human contact. At the moment I’m doing a contract job that puts me in an office with other people for part of the week but I’ve also had to come up with some strategies for the days when I work at home.
One thing I do is schedule a social/work day every couple of weeks. In my home city of Melbourne, there’s a social media breakfast every Friday morning. So, I plan to get to that every couple of weeks or so. As well as breaking the week up a little, it’s an opportunity to meet and network with new people. On that day, I also make a point of setting at least one other meeting with a potential client, interview subject or other business contact.
Email lists are also a great way to expand your network and keep in touch with people. Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn are great places to look for discussions on topics of interest and for contacting new people.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are excellent as well although you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of self-discipline so that you don’t waste time on them.
Finally, I use the phone a lot. Rather than just emailing or tweeting my contacts I get on the phone a couple of times a day so that I hear a human voice and get a chance to interact more directly.
What do you do to overcome the solitude of working alone? Have you come up with some special tricks to help you through the day? Please share your ideas through the comments.

Comments (6)

  1. This is the hardest part of freelancing. It doesn’t help that I have daily deadlines at the start and finish of each working day.
    Every week I tell myself I’ll contact X people and drink coffee or have lunch with them. I achieve this most weeks, but the interactions tend to be about business rather than social meet-ups.
    My wife works from home most days and my family still live at home which helps, but I find the telephone and online tools are essential. I’d go crazy without Google Talk.

    • It’s surprising isn’t it? Most of the people I talked to before I went freelance didn’t mention it but it’s something I was acutely aware when I started freelancing. Perhaps it’s to do with my personality type? I know I’m a natural extrovert but I never realised how much a craved human interaction until I was working alone.

  2. Really good to see this topic discussed as it’s something that is often overlooked when people talk about wanting to be able to work from home or run their own business. As internet speeds get faster and office rents continue to rise, working from home will become a reality for more people.
    When I set up my business here in 2008, I had spent 18 months working from home in the UK, so had experienced those issues of isolation and being strict about separating work and home.
    Working as a freelance journalist or for anyone working alone, requires a fair amount of self-motivation. However, making a conscious effort to get out, meet people and try new events and social gatherings makes it easier.

    • Thanks Jocelyn
      It was one of the real surprises for me. As you know, I am a little extroverted and like to talk. It’s taken some careful personal and time management to balance that with the need to get work done. One thing I really haven;t taken advantage of is Skype and video-calling. I suspect that would be helpful for me but I really don;t see it widely taken up in small business. Do you use it?

  3. Hi Anthony
    No, have to say I don’t really use Skype unless I’m calling friends and family overseas. I do know small businesses that use it though and they say its helpful because they can see who is around for a quick chat and also use the instant messenger service. I’m happy managing the comms tools I’ve already got ie email, landline phone, mobile, twitter and Facebook without anymore!

  4. Pingback: Opportunity for new business is always close - Journo Advice

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