7 Ways to Avoid Loneliness as a Freelancer
When you go freelance, you become a company of one (at least in the beginning until you can hire a team, if you even want to).
That means you’ll be working for yourself – by yourself – every day. Even if you’re introverted (like me), it’s pretty easy to feel disconnected and lonely under those circumstances. The lack of consistent human connection is one of the main downsides to freelancing or running a business.
Don’t worry, though — you can banish the loneliness monster from your freelancing kingdom.
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But, before we get into how, let’s destigmatize loneliness (and any other mental health concern for that matter). It’s normal. It’s painful. And, it’s harmful to your wellbeing.
That said, I’m glad you’re here. You can take control.
If you’re lonely now, you’ll learn some great ways to reconnect with the world today. But, if you’re doing OK (and I hope that’s the case), you’ll pick up some tips and tricks for later.
Without further ado, let’s get to 7 ways you can avoid loneliness as a freelancer.
Related Reading: Self-care for Freelancers
#1: Work Outside Your House to Avoid Loneliness as a Freelancer
Running your own personal staff meeting every day all day has its perks. But sometimes, you may miss those once-pesky co-workers (or at least the idea of having them around).
So, if possible, take your freelancing show on the road — venture beyond your four walls to avoid loneliness. Hit up a coffee shop, library, or co-working space (virtual options are available!).
Seeing other folks, hearing the low, familiar din of their chatter, and popping into a conversation or two takes you away from your lonely island. You’re not alone. Friendly faces are always nearby.
#2: Befriend Other Freelancers
Other freelancers understand loneliness because it happens to them, too. That means you can be a support system for each other. Maybe that looks like a quick text message check-in every day. Or, maybe you start a weekly video chat ritual. In time, you’ll find the right communication medium and cadence.
And who knows? Perhaps your connections with other freelancers turn into interesting and lucrative collaboration projects. Either way, pair up with someone who gets what you’re going through and loneliness will be a thing of the past.
So where do you find other freelancers? Search for them on social media. I’ve had great luck connecting on LinkedIn and Twitter.
You can also find them at the Freelance Institute (affiliate link), an awesome, affordable Slack community that’s all freelance all the time. I’m a member — you should be, too!
#3: Explore Mentorship and Escape Loneliness
Mentorship is a mutually satisfying relationship that can stave off loneliness. If you’re a new-ish freelancer, find a mentor. If you’re more seasoned, be one.
If you’re the mentor, you’ll get a lot of fulfillment from helping someone achieve freelancing success, and you’ll further hone your craft. If you’re the mentee, you’ll gain a tremendous leg up in your business, and make a contact that can help your freelancing career for years to come. You both win.
Pro Tip: The freelancers you befriend could become great mentors or mentees.
#4: Join a Group and Leave Loneliness Behind
When you worked in an office, you belonged to a group of your co-workers and managers. To dodge the loneliness bullet now, consider joining a different group — one designed to further your freelancing business.
Whether virtual or in-person, masterminds, meetups, and other communities can be great sources of information, inspiration, and fun. You could even make lifelong friends.
FYI: Social media is home to many freelancing groups. You can also form your own with the freelancers you meet along the way.
#5: Get Involved in the Community
It’s impossible to feel lonely when you’re helping others. You just feel so connected to humanity and the other volunteers. So, find a community service project that resonates with you and enjoy a fulfilling sense of camaraderie as you support a good cause.
Not sure how to get involved? Start here.
#6: Create Time for Loved Ones
Your family and friends are the most important people in your life. Staying connected to them is sure to cure the loneliness blues.
So, intentionally earmark time on your calendar just for hanging out with those near and dear to you. Face to face is optimal. But, a video chat or phone call can work well, too.
Resource: Zoom is an easy, free way to video chat with loved ones that you can’t see in person.
#7: Take Breaks and Connect
Super busy and can’t dedicate entire days to hanging out right now? That’s OK — you can still avoid loneliness as a freelancer and keep it at bay. When you take a break, pick up the phone or send an email.
A short chat or quick note keeps the lines of communication open. Just reaching out to someone can make you feel better connected.
Loneliness is a terrible feeling. Unfortunately, it’s a common emotion for freelancers who typically work in solitude. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to avoid loneliness and keep it from taking root in your life.
Heck, if you’re feeling the lonely blues, drop me an email. I’m sure we can help each other.
Tell me: When you feel lonely, what do you do? Drop a comment below.
Important note: Loneliness and depression can look a lot alike. If your feelings of loneliness don’t subside after quality human contact, it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor or therapist.
Learn by listening? Download the podcast episode all about banishing loneliness.
Super tips Laura.
I think people really underestimate the sense of loneliness they’ll experience going full-time as a freelancer. As you point out, working in an office with a team around you does have some drawbacks, but interacting with people is important for your mental health.
Working from a coffee shop is a great option (in normal times) and I’ve done this often. I also find I can be extremely productive in this environment… perhaps the sense that you’re being overlooked inspires me!
I also find that just getting out of the house helps. Taking a break and just being outside for 30 minutes makes you feel more connected to people somehow.
BTW… I am going to dine out on your line about taking your freelancing show on the road!
Thank you, Paul!
You’re right — folks don’t often think about the mental health impacts of working from home or being a freelancer/entrepreneur until they’re in the throes of them.
A change of scenery and a conversation with someone who “gets it” usually gets me back on track.
Good tips, even for a non-freelancer like me. I work full time 100% remotely and struggle with the same loneliness issues. Interestingly, I realise that I’ve unconsciously done almost all these tips the last few months. No.1 is the one that gives the extrovert me the most sanity!
No.3 was something I discovered for myself recently – I have always enjoyed mentoring and coaching people, so having someone there to teach helped a lot with loneliness at work.
However, it’s been a struggle implementing all of these as my country is cycling through super tough lockdowns to relaxed ones off and on the last 12 months. Any tips for those who can’t go out and socialise and have to stay home?
Thanks for reading!
You’re so right – when you spend a lot of time at home – whether that’s due to a pandemic, a remote job, or both – it can be even harder to stay connected.
I’ve found a lot of value in participating in online masterminds and virtual co-working spaces. They’ve helped me engage with other professionals and business owners.
On a personal front, I started doing more video calls with friends and I’ve tried to call family more.
None of these are a substitute for in-person conversations, but they’ve helped me feel less lonely.
Hope this helps!