One of the best things about freelancing and working from home is the freedom to make your own schedule. You can do what you want, when you want.
Except it’s not healthy for anyone to isolate themselves in their little corner of the world. It’s not healthy personally, and it’s certainly not healthy on a professional level.
In a workforce motivation study, compensation only scored a 48 while community scored a 60 (on a hundred point total motivating factor scale). That means while money is important, it’s not everything. The ability to create a strong community is actually more important than money. And when you’re self-employed, it’s up to you to build the type of community you need.
Here are a few ideas that will help you build a team of people to help you navigate the isolating life of a freelancer.
Connect with like minds
Are you constantly interrupted by kids or enthusiastic pets? Do people think since you work from home you’re free to talk for hours a day? Perhaps you are tired of staring at the same four walls of your home office every single day?
Welcome to the wonderful world of working from home!
Every entrepreneur that works from home faces the exact same challenges. The goal is to create a support system of other freelancers who understand your daily struggles. They can laugh with you when your cat breaks your glasses (happened to me last month) or when your WiFi goes down and you miss an important meeting.
This group isn’t going to help you build your business, but they will be able to understand your challenges and offer a few words of wisdom.
Collaborate with industry peers
These are the people who completely understand your business because they are in the same boat. They are industry peers that can share guidance. They’ll be interested in the shiny new tech you want to try; and let you know it it’s worth it.
You can certainly find groups on various social media platforms. But you can also join specific industry platforms designed for your industry. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you can collaborate with others on varied projects. Here’re a few examples for anyone in the freelance writing game:
Help a Reporter Out (HARO): HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage.
Guest Crew: Guest Crew is a content marketing and crowd speaking platform. It can help broaden your social media exposure and it allows freelancers to ask for help on projects. Here’s an example of an author asking for help on an upcoming article: “Hello, Friends! I’m working on a #Roundup article which will be published on PPC.org . Here’s the working title – ‘101 Experts Share their Number 1 PPC Tip for a PPC Starter.’ So, just let me know your suggestions and tips for someone starting out with PPC ads.”
Each industry will have their own groups, tools, and resources. Not only will it help improve your productivity, but many of these groups offer networking opportunities too.
Trusted advisors and friends
These are the people you need the most. They will give you the honest truth, no matter how brutal it may seem. It’s incredibly easy to make the wrong move when you work by yourself every day. It’s very simple to say things like “that’s brilliant!” about your awesome work. Maybe it really is amazing, but maybe you’re the only person that thinks so.
Here’s the perfect example.
Someone thought it would be a great idea to “tap” the Vermont state map the same way they tap trees. In theory, it sounds like a great idea because Vermont is famous for its maple syrup. In reality, it’s an obscene picture that looks like someone urinating into a bucket. This is why we all need a second opinion.
Work by yourself, but not alone
Sometimes I just want to lock the door, turn off my phone, and be left alone. I’m easily distracted and it can be extremely hard to focus on my to-do list.
Yet, I know I shouldn’t work alone. I’ve avoided many business mistakes just by asking for advice from someone I trusted. I’ve learned a lot from my peers because they let me ask stupid questions without making me feel dumb. And when times get tough, I have someone that will help me figure out the next step.
If you don’t have a strong and supportive community, build one today. Not only will it give you peace of mind, you’ll also tap into resources that can help you build your business.
You don’t have to go at it alone.
This article has been edited.
Liesha Petrovich is the founder of Work Mobly, an online magazine helping people find freedom, happiness, and profit while working from anywhere. In her free time, she’s working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship. Grab a free copy of her new book Killing Rapunzel: Learning how to save yourself through determination, grit, and self-employment. Connect with @lieshapetrovich on Twitter.