6 top tips to find your freelance community and say goodbye to isolation
Freelance life can be hella lonely.
😳 You’re not the only one feeling isolated.
😳 Missing the buzz and banter of working in an office.
😳 Wishing you someone understood the pressure you’re under (no, the dog doesn’t count).
😳 Wondering what the heck you should charge for that new project that’s outside your comfort zone.
As I say in , going solo doesn’t mean going it alone – and finding a community of like-minded individuals to work, collaborate and share with is a real gamechanger.
When I started my freelance journey back in 1999, there was no freelance community because there was no social media. And there was no social media because there was barely any internet!
Today, you’re spoilt for choice. So where do you start?
Here are my top tips to help you find your freelance community and create a happier, more fulfilled working life.
If staring at the same four walls each day gives you Groundhog Day vibes, consider renting a coworking space two or three times a week.
While you don’t need to be a freelancer to use a coworking space – shared work zones attract flexible workers of all kinds – many freelancers find shared working gives them the lifeline they need to overcome the isolation that can come with the job title.
Some coworking spaces operate on a pay-as-you-go basis where you can drop in and use the facilities when you need to. Others charge a fixed weekly or monthly fee. Shop around to see what’s best for you.
Get social online
Social media offers countless networks of enthusiastic, inspiring creatives just like you – and you don’t even need to move from your desk to join them!
Freelance communities on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Slack and Discord are packed with information, advice, support, opportunities for collaboration… and likeminded people.
Start with thriving Facebook groups such as Freelance Heroes or Being Freelance, or look out for industry-specific communities such as Logo Geek (for graphic designers) or Freelance PRs.
Give more than you take
As with most things in life, you get out of online freelance communities what you put in – so dig in, introduce yourself, browse members’ posts and engage with discussions.
Resist the temptation to self-promote. Instead, engage with others, be encouraging, helpful and informed, and give more than you take.
Once you’ve established yourself as an active member and become known as friendly, reliable and someone who knows their stuff, you’re more likely to attract likeminded people, which may even pay off in referrals and business.
Do your research
Want to expand your network or social circle but don’t know where to start?
Following hashtags on Twitter and Instagram can help you spot people with similar interests and goals. Give them a follow and reach out with a comment or DM.
Many real-life friendships develop from online connections. (This happens over time, not overnight, so be prepared to invest time and effort.)
Joining a local business network is a great way to meet likeminded individuals and has the added benefit of encouraging you to leave your desk occasionally!
In person networking doesn’t need to be intimidating – remember, everyone was new once. Be yourself, show a genuine interest in others, and focus on making new connections rather than sales.
It might take a while to find a group that feels like home, so be prepared to try a range of networking groups – from formal breakfast gatherings to casual chats over coffee – until you find the right freelance community.
Build your support network
Making money isn’t everything. Sure, we all need to pay the bills, but you deserve some me-time, too!
Keeping work and home life separate is super important when you’re freelance. Set firm boundaries – especially around your working hours – and refuse to let your home life come second.
A good support network of non-business friends is essential to your mental wellbeing, so never feel guilty about switching off the laptop, joining a yoga class, or meeting a friend for coffee. Switching off doesn’t just help you to recharge – it boosts focus, creativity and productivity.
Your brain will thank you for it, and so will your bank balance.
Need a little freelance support and advice?
Survival Skills for Freelancers is your secret weapon to get more enjoyment from self-employment – and it’s available in paperback, hardback, Kindle and audiobook.