Freelancer Loneliness

Freelancer Loneliness

“What has freelancer loneliness got to do with the branding or marketing?”

Today I want to talk about the idea of freelancer loneliness. And you’re probably thinking, “What has loneliness got to do with the branding or marketing?” Well, the reason is that a couple of weeks ago, we were was approached by a local charity, looking for some support with the design and marketing of the Youth Loneliness Seminar they were planning.

I remember the penny really dropped, and I realized, "Holy crap" I have to go out and be the new business person, be the project manager. I have to be the designer and the bookkeeper. You have to be all these things. 

Debbie Evran

Working as a freelancer can be a lonely journey

We don’t normally do free work, but I felt compelled to support the event because having lost my own brother to mental health a number of years ago, the subject resonated with me personally. Not only that, working as a solopreneur/freelancer for many years, I know how lonely the freelance journey can be. So I thought I would share four or five tips around what I have done as a freelancer, to help me stay connected, to what’s going on, and to reduce any feeling of loneliness.

The penny drops…

When I first started my business, I went from working in a big agency with loads of support and staff to working completely independently.

When you work in a big agency, it’s very easy to think that, “Oh, freelance is a really great job,” because of the freedom and that you are your own boss. But in reality, it can become really lonely. You go from having IT people, new business people, project managers – a great big support network around you, compared to when you work for yourself, it’s just little old you, you know?

I remember, the first two or three months of my business, the penny really dropped, and I realized, “Holy crap,” basically. I now have to go out and be the new business person, be the project manager. I have to be the designer and the bookkeeper. You have to be all these things, and that in itself can make you feel pretty lonely, it can be quite a shock to the system.

But fear not…! Here are some strategies that I’ve used to help me get out there and stay connected to the creative and business community.

01. Face-to-face networking

So the first one is face-to-face networking.  There’s hundreds, if not thousands, across the UK. Some of them operate on a pay as you go, where you can just turn up as and when you want. Whereas others are more membership based.

Some people like the freedom to be able to go to different events as and when they want.

However, I do know that over the years, I’ve started to see the benefit in joining or committing to one networking event that you go to every week or every month. Some of them are at the crack of dawn, 5:00 am or 6:00 am in the morning – if you’re happy to get up at that time? Other ones are in the afternoon or in the evening.

The great thing is there are so many different ones around, you’ll easily find one that you can fit around your work schedule.

02. Trade shows

The second way is trade shows and seminars. There’s been a massive growth, in live tech and creative based events and conferences. Because they offer the perfect opportunity to learn and do new business at the same time, as well as connect personally with people who you might only ever meet via online platforms. 

03. Social networking platforms

The third way is online networking. Obviously, there are some great online networking platforms, you know, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, all the main social media platforms offer a great place for you to stay or feel connected with what’s going on. In fact over the years, I have found it more beneficial to join industry-specific groups and interact and engage in the conversation. Be a little bit more proactive.

Social networking can also be useful if you are an introverted creator, that finds getting out and talking face-to-face with people difficult. You can build initial relationships with people online, so when it comes to meeting them face-to-face,
you’ll feel more relaxed.

Something else that I’ve found useful is to treat networking as a fact-finding opportunity, people remember you when you ask plenty of questions. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s face-to-face networking or social networking, always go with the intention to provide some kind of value.

Freelancer Loneliness

04. Co-working spaces

Where was I, number four is coworking spaces. I know Manchester has some really, fantastic coworking spaces. Spaces like WeWork, The Federation, and innovating spaces like The Sharp Project, which is just north of Manchester, fantastic facility. Again, all great places that you can just go for the day or get an office for a week or a month. Most offer flexible solutions that help you expand your business at your own pace.

05. Community/sports interest groups

And then, I’d say the fifth thing, is thinking about it from more of a personal perspective. For example maybe you like running, or snowboarding, or whether it’s fishing, or cake making, whatever it is, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different clubs or associations that you can join, that way you not only get out there and meeting new people, but it’s an environment where it’s not like a big sell.

While networking events and conferences tend to obviously … Everybody’s there, obviously, on business, whereas if you’re part of a running club or a ski club, it feels a lot more relaxed to sort of start talking or having a chat with somebody who’s there and say, “Oh, what do you do?” You know, and I find some of those things … Often, things that actually sometimes are a bit left field from where you would think of going are sometimes actually producing some of the best kind of leads.

The key thing with all of those, and what I’ve really learned over the years, think about what your intention is. I don’t know whether it’s you want to partner with a web developer, or you need to find somebody to help you with animation, or if you want a better accountant, or something, when you actually set the intention before you go to those events, you’ll find that actually sometimes that person kind of pops up in the person beside you.

I know a funny thing that happened, which is I remember thinking, “Oh, I could really do with a new accountant,” and the next minute, I got invited to a sales workshop, and when I went to the sales workshop, lo and behold, the guy beside me happened to be an accountant, and I got chatting with him, and actually, while I didn’t end up working with that guy, he was too expensive, he referred me to someone else who now has basically been my accountant for three or four years.

So yeah, I think like I said, definitely what I’ve learned is that when you go to networking events, any kind of networking, it’s about being a value. You know, if you provide a lot of value, then people will … It just helps to build relationships. Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed those tips. If you please, give me the thumbs up, and also please subscribe, and yeah. I’ll hopefully see you next time. Speak to you later. Bye.