admin Posted on 6:34 am

The double-edged sword of freelancing: independence and isolation

We work from our home offices. We have the opportunity to pick and choose which jobs we accept and which we reject. We can work in our pajamas if we want to (but we don’t), and we can throw out a load of laundry whenever we want. Ah, the independence of the freelance.

Yes, a certain allure is associated with being a freelance writer, but here’s the thing. We work ALONE in our offices, without the benefit of the camaraderie of co-workers. No birthday cake for the guy in the cubicle next door, no baby shower for the woman who works across the hall. No colleague in the corner office to brainstorm with when we’re having trouble with a project. And when the computer takes a mind of its own, we can’t just pick up the phone and call IT. That is the flip side of freelancing.

How can you handle isolation? Here are some tips:

  • Plan monthly lunches with other freelancers. This takes you away from the home office and gives you the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues in the same situation. And he keeps the receipt. Lunch with your colleagues is a tax-deductible expense if you are self-employed!
  • Join a local trade association and attend meetings. Consider your local Chamber of Commerce or other business networking group. You will have the opportunity to meet other local entrepreneurs face to face and network with businesses that might need your services.
  • Schedule breaks during your workday. Staring at the computer for hours on end can make you feel even more isolated. Get out of the office, go to the gym, walk around the block, say hello to your neighbor, do whatever gives you a change of scenery, however brief.
  • Don’t be afraid to call other freelancers when you need another perspective or some business advice. How do you find these colleagues? Leveraging your contacts through professional associations, such as the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and other societies. It’s not uncommon for me to call an AMWA colleague or two when I need to bounce an idea or even complain about a project. Putting a different spin on things is always a good thing.
  • Develop relationships through social media. Today it’s easy to connect with like-minded people through social networks like LinkedIn, Biznik, Facebook and Twitter. By engaging in social media, you can lessen the degree of professional isolation you feel, especially if you’re just starting out as a freelancer and experiencing the initial shock that comes with stepping out of the corporate world.
  • Teaching a class for fun. I find doing something completely different from my day job, medical communication, exciting as long as I don’t commit myself too much. What are you good at? Look around your community for opportunities to share what you know. You will most likely find the balance refreshing.

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