If you’re a freelancer, there’s a good chance you’re working alone. It’s one of the things many freelancers enjoy – the freedom to work how and when you want, away from office politics and those annoying co-workers.
The ranks of freelancers working across the media, from journalists and content marketing writers to designers and digital marketers, are growing as staff jobs disappear and some creatives branch out on their own. This was all in train and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were sent packing from officers all around the world. Some people have families, partners and pets, but plenty of people suddenly found themselves living alone and working alone. Even those living with others were working alone without their co-workers, bereft of their work husbands and wives, and only having themselves for company and camaraderie.
Freelancing is freeing in many ways. Work hours determined by yourself and maybe just your clients, forego office attire and rid yourself of editors and bosses. Personally, it’s liberating in many ways to work on my own from home with just the radio and my dog to keep my company.
The other side of freelancing is that it can be incredibly isolating. There are also the challenges around developing a consistent pipeline of work, an established client roster and getting paid. But these are all topics for other blog posts. Being cut loose from an established workplace with its routines of work and morning coffee breaks, colleagues and lunch outings, training opportunities and so on can be isolating.
It takes a strong, self-direct person to thrive at freelancing where you have to establish your own work routines, find other ways to connection with colleagues and draw on your own reserves for of resilience to stay motivated and cope with inevitable disappointments and frustrations.
There’s now a whole network of freelancers that you can connect with to find these things. There’s a plethora of Facebook groups, newsletters and websites to connect with others and find solidarity in the solitary.
It feels like almost every week I come across another newsletter or resources aimed at freelancers to help with all the myriad things you need to manager when you’re working for yourself, also known as a solopreneur. As a freelance journalist and content marketing writer, I’m in a bunch of freelancing writing Facebook groups and I also follow a number of freelance writer blogs. I know there are similar ones for freelancer designers and creatives, coders, marketers and others. We share wins and woes in these groups, there are video chats to catch up or brainstorm and there are even in-person event, Covid-permitting, so there’s still interaction, it just takes a different form.
I’ve also found a useful guide in the form of Rebecca Seal’s book, Solo: How to Work Alone (and Not Lose Your Mind), from the British freelance journalist and TV presenter. It weaves the latest psychology, economics and social science research with practical advice and her own experiences on how to stay resilient and productive in a company of one.
Managing long hours, find ways to do hard things, dealing with loneliness, finding freelance networks and even defining what success in freelance work looks like are just some of the many topics she covers in the book.
Now that it’s 2021, for me personally I’m heading into my second year of complete remote work where I combine a part-time job as a journalist with freelance journalism and content marketing writing so working solo is something I’m experiencing and reviewing as I do it. On the whole, I’ve found it liberating but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle some days with being alone. There are days I long for a chat over a morning coffee, miss talking and collaborating with colleagues and sometimes I would like to be around a few other humans. Yet, despite this, on balance I’m probably happier working alone because I get more done each day, I have a greater sense of ownership over my work and I feel freer in my work.
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash