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Why Self-Employment Doesn’t Mean Isolation

According to Gallup data from the State of the Self-Employed – released in May 2020 by QuickBooks –, approximately 30% of the population in the U.S. have been self-employed for at least a week in the previous 12 months. The growth of self-employment has been dramatic since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the near future, we can expect independent experts to embrace freelancing and self-employment as a priority. Needless to say, working for yourself is a complete change of pace and responsibilities.

Mental preparation plays a significant role in approaching professional independence. Indeed, as a freelancer, you need to wear multiple hats at the same time. You’re a salesperson, a marketer, an accountant, a designer, an IT tech, on top of promoting your unique expertise. It’s going to be a stressful experience at first. However, perseverance and reliance can help you sail through these troubled waters. Mistakes are unavoidable. But they are not a bad thing. Mistakes, as a freelancer, help you to learn your trade and develop business know-how rapidly. In other words, a lot of people who choose to approach self-employment and walk away from the safe comfort of employment need to be mentally ready to face those challenges.

However, acknowledging that there will be mishaps and obstacles on the way doesn’t prepare you for one of the most significant issues that affect freelancers. Indeed, self-employment can feel like a solitary journey. Whether you’re quitting your day-to-day office job to become a freelancer, or you’ve graduated from college and are leaving the student community to work from your home office, self-employment is a career that can feel deprived of social contacts. For a lot of independent experts, loneliness can lead to anxiety, mental health disorders, and professional failures. Yet, learning to tame the sensation that you’re isolated from the rest of the world can help you transform your experience of freelancing and build a successful business. You are only as lonely as you choose to be.

You can create compelling online events

Self-employment begins on the corner of your dining table or the old desk at the back of your bedroom. Many freelancers choose to work from home because there is no need to invest in a physical business setup when you work alone. While home-based offices reduce the opportunity to meet clients and invite partners and leads to your premises, it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain regular contacts. With video conferencing software solutions, you can schedule live events for your audience. If you’re a marketing freelancer, you can invite clients to an online webinar and share some tips about data analysis or content generation, for instance. Are you providing design works? You can create an engaging workshop to test new ideas with partners and capture their impressions and concerns in real time. The bottom line: There are many reasons for a video call. Self-employed professionals can use digital tools to reach out to their audience and bridge the gap.

There’s a freelancing network out there

You will find plenty of freelancing platforms available, from PeoplePerHour to Fiverr. However, these platforms fail to offer social support and community engagement, as they are designed to bring clients and freelancers together. However, you can find dedicated communities on LinkedIn that can help self-employed individuals to share tips and motivation online. You can also reach out to organized spaces, such as the Freelancer Club, which help nurture freelancers and protect their work. It is a collaborative platform where professionals can connect, receive relevant discounts for their business, and benefit from shared knowledge. When you are new to running an independent business, you can avoid many mistakes and client-related issues by reaching out to experienced professionals who can guide you through the process. Think of it as a platform where you can find mentors to advise you, colleagues to talk to, and partners to collaborate.

Find independent partners you can trust

Does working for yourself mean that you have to do all the work alone? The answer is no. Nobody has ever said that freelancing meant becoming an expert in everything overnight. There will be a ton of things you still don’t master. But it doesn’t matter. As a self-employed professional, you only need to sell your unique skills set. If you want to promote extensive services or take on more work, you need to set up an effective collaboration routine. Freelancers can partner and join forces to enhance their packages. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you can build a partnership with a business strategist to provide a complete brand and content service to your clients. Finding a partner in the freelancing world is the same as finding a partner as a company. You need to build a trustworthy connection to another market player and consider how your skill sets and offerings complete each other.

Build a loyal relationship with your clients

A lot of self-employed individuals worry they may not be able to establish strong relationships with their clients. The belief that clients can only work closely with businesses they trust is obsolete. As a freelancer, your expertise is valuable to your clients, regardless of whether you run an independent business or are employed by a company. When it comes to the administrative side of things, the invoicing system remains the same from the client’s perspective. If anything, a lot of clients will prefer the direct and straightforward contact they get with a freelancer, compared to more convoluted relationships inside an agency or a company. As such, nothing is preventing a freelancer from building strong and reliable relationships with their clients. You can create recurring packages, which means that you end up working with the same clients for years.

Share your personal experience of it

The freelancing path can be emotional. Unlike an office desk job, it is a career choice that gives you full freedom. But freedom also brings responsibilities and difficult decisions. Starting your self-employed journey is a leap of faith, regardless of how well prepared you are. As such, the experience of working for yourself is a lot more intimate, involved, and engaging as working for a big brand. But you don’t have to go through the experience alone. You can share your story and create engagement. Storytelling is at the heart of human communication and connection. Telling your story, as a blog post, for instance, can bring people together and help you overcome loneliness. Admittedly, there are a few essential rules to follow. If you’re going to talk about your job as a freelancer, you should stay clear from negativity and name-calling. People tune in because they want the drama at the heart of your career. They want a good story that moves them and teaches them something valuable. Share the lessons you’ve learned and gain followers.

Co-working spaces are great

The home office is a quiet space to establish your routine. However, your home office lacks a social space where you can have a cup of coffee with coworkers and a casual chat. As a freelancer, coworkers are a rarity. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should work alone. With a variety of co-working spaces available, you can get to meet other people and create a social network. Many co-working offices play a significant role in helping independent professionals remain creative and motivated, even though they all work on different and isolated projects.

Loneliness is bad for your brain

It is in the nature of freelancing to create a sense of social isolation. You work for yourself, and therefore there is no boss report to, no coworker to invite to your next meeting. Yet, perpetuating social isolation can have dramatic consequences on your brain and body. Isolation leads to mood disorders, which can create depression or even anxiety issues. Additionally, an individual who can’t discuss ideas with others or find inspiration in social contact is likely to become less productive and creative. A good idea is an idea that fits in the current Zeitgeist. Freelancers who fail to reach out to their peers and social groups can become disconnected from social trends and culture. In the long term, your creative work doesn’t reach your audience because it doesn’t reflect anymore on their current experience of the world – inside and outside the business. Therefore, maintaining social contacts is key to your freelancing success.

Artists can find a Patreon

Artists are the most vulnerable freelancing population. While an expert can sell their skills and services to clients, an artist doesn’t have the option of targeting single contracts. An artist, by definition, creates a piece of art, which could be painting, drawing, singing, etc. Many creative artists fail to find support in their local community. Personal growth and emotional awareness are detrimental to your creativity. But those are hard to maintain when you worry about paying your bills at the end of the month. There are, however, dedicated organizations that let you promote your art and find supportive followers. Building a community of international sponsors can help you stay relevant and connected to people who believe in you.

Working for yourself is wrongly described as a lonely experience. While it is a solitary career, it doesn’t mean that freelancers should go through the challenges alone. On the contrary, countless freelancing-friendly organizations and arrangements offer the social contact self-employed professionals need to grow. Remember; you’re only lonely because you choose to be.

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