My biggest problem as a freelancer is… loneliness.
I worked with a 25-strong team of talented young marine environmental scientists for 25 years. They challenged my every thought and decision along the way but I always felt proud and privileged to be a part of their professional development and their lives.
After selling out and completing my restraint of trade period, I set up my freelance business on my own. It is very hard to recreate the intense intellectual challenge of working with young scientists when one is working solo.
It is also hard/impossible to brain-storm methods, reports & solutions without the input of at least another brain. I’m of that age where I really ought to be feeling more relaxed about all this… but I’m not!
I’m not asking for an answer – just wanted to put it out there because there must be so many people who feel the same way as I do.
How can you be less lonely as a freelancer?
Loneliness is a real issue for freelancers everywhere. Going for days at a time without seeing another human, particularly during busy periods when working from home, can be a real challenge.
According to a survey by Aldermore, almost 40% of freelancers say they have felt lonely since working for themselves.
The report reveals that loneliness is currently a real problem amongst the self-employed, with over a third (39%) of Brits, saying they have felt lonely since becoming their own boss. This is most common amongst millennials (25 – 34 year olds), with over half (54%) saying they have experienced a feeling of loneliness.
And loneliness is extremely damaging to your mental health. At Montfort, the digital marketing agency I run, we work with the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission and are all too aware of the downsides of loneliness.
So Lindsay’s questions is an important one – and something that all freelancers should think about. Even if you’re working in a group at the moment, things might change in the future.
Here are a few ideas for how to be less lonely as a freelancer.
1. Join Facebook Groups
I’m a member of several Facebook Groups and these are excellent places to make friends and chat with other freelancers. Even if you feel like a lonely freelancer, there are others just like you out there – there’s even a group I’m part of called The Lonely Freelancer!
Facebook Groups often act as a place to help each other out, post questions and share good stuff about freelancing in general – and they certainly help to make you feel a little less lonely.
Take a look at Freelance Heroes as well for another decent Facebook Group, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there. And if there’s not, why not start one for your area or freelance profession?
2. Join a coworking space
If virtual networking is not for you, why not find a coworking space near you?
Thanks to the likes of WeWork, there are coworking spaces popping up in cities and towns across the world, so it should be easy to find one near you.
Although it can be unproductive working in a coworking space, due to the increased noise levels and likelihood of interruptions throughout the day, it can be great working among other freelancers and small business who are building their own futures.
3. Meet other freelancers for coffee
If you prefer working from home, that still doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house and meet other freelancers during the working day.
And if might not even need to be another freelancer. Although it is nice talking shop, it might be a good idea to meet up someone outside of your usual line of work, such as a neighbour or a local parent who lives in the area.
Whoever it is, once you get out and take a break from work, you’ll come back feeling refreshed and with a new sense of energy to bring to the rest of your working day.
4. Make time for client calls and meetings
If you’re looking for company as a freelancer, you’ll almost certainly find comfort in you clients – whether you want to or not!
Having meetings with your clients — in person, by phone or by video conferencing — can help make you feel less lonely to and help fix what you could be missing from working in an office.
Don’t just stick to work chat when meeting or calling your clients. Ask them how their family are, what they did on the weekend, or if they’ve read anything worth reading recently.
These meetings and calls can help you feel less lonely, but being interested in what clients are up to outside of working hours will improve your relationship with them too.
5. Plan evening activities
If you’re stuck behind your desk all day, it makes sense to get out in the evenings.
Exercising and going to the gym is a great thing to do in the evening, as it’s a healthy way to get in both your social time from meeting other gym goers or going for a run with a friend – plus you get the added advantage of a healthier body and relaxed mind.
If you don’t fancy exercising, you could also start a hobby that means you to spend time with people outside of your freelance work. This hobby can give you with a fresh look at life and gives you social time without feeling like you have to be working for your freelance clients.
Or if you’re like me and live in then UK, then a few pints down the local pub is a good way to relax after a hard day freelancing. Just don’t have too many beers or the next working day will be more difficult and pretty unproductive!
That’s just a few ideas for how to be less lonely as a freelancer.
But what about you? How do you ensure you are less lonely as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below!