How to Deal with Isolation as a Freelancer

Becoming a freelancer and going out on your own can happen in a number of ways. Sometimes planned, and  sometimes not- either way can be daunting.

The first time I was self-employed was pretty easy, about a third of my day was out and about meeting with suppliers, moving products around and talking with clients. It was later on when I was providing a service as a Digital Marketing Consultant that I noticed a difference, but is was not straight away.

The beginning was exciting, projects were lined up and I had spent the previous few years in-house with a great team. For me, I really felt a change about 6 months in. Work was going well, but I started to realise it was taking up most of my time. Working from home, I often grabbed lunch on the go, and when I dealt with other people it was mostly via email and IM. For anyone starting as a freelancer, it is vital to make sure you still have human interaction (running a 10,000 page SEO Audit can mean you don’t see another human being for quite some time!).

Working on your own can be great to get work done, but without people to bounce ideas off of it can become demoralising over a period of time. The problem is, it can be difficult to know when that happens. Without having a team around you talking about how things are done, most of the conversations become about what is being done which can lead to an over inflated view of how well others are doing leading to a lot of doubt. I’ve been very lucky to find others in the industry to share ideas and issues with and, likewise, I do the same for others, but it is about reaching out and finding the right people.

One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you are no longer stuck to a routine. However, I found it was actually more about being able to shift the routine to attain the work / life balance that suited me best. Shifting the 9-5 means having time to enjoy time with family, the weather and generally get stuff done like shopping at quieter times.

Skype / Hangouts (other apps are available) can be great just for general chats, I will sometime schedule a chat with 2-3 other people within the industry and just have a general chat about what we are working on that day, share a few ideas and offer some advice. We talk for about 20 minutes in the morning and then a couple more times during the day (as well as the occasional messages) to see how we are all going. It’s a great way to step away from work for a moment- we see the time as virtual coffee breaks. It’s great when at the end of the day we can share what has worked and our overall successes of the day.

Here’s how to make the best of freelancing if you’re thinking about making the jump:

Getting started

Think about your location. If you are working from home, have a room or space dedicated to just working. Let other people in the house know you are working to help avoid distractions. Separate personal stuff from work on your calendar and in your mind. Nail down your “process” as soon as possible to make your work as efficient as possible and review your process frequently. Change what’s not working.

Dealing with working on your own

Take a break –maybe take a walk to a coffee shop or cafe.  I will often try and spend a half day at least working from a coffee shop. It’s just nice to have people around you. Working from home the whole time can be very isolating, if coffee shops and cafes are too busy to work from consider using co-working spaces.


For both you and your business! If there are no meet ups near you maybe set one up? Check for meet ups in your area and networking opportunities from the likes of the local Chamber of Commerce. This is really key for human interaction and making new friends in the industry as well as finding new business opportunities.

Don’t forget to have some ‘You’ time

Schedule it and use it. Whether it’s a walk around the park or the weekly pub quiz. And it doesn’t all have to be in real life- there are get networks of people on LinkedIn, Twitter or catchup with people through email and IM- just think of it as taking a coffee break. You can try something different, like signing up for new service. I actually recently signed up with “Borrow my Doggy,” and a couple of times a week I walk around the park with other dog owners.
It is all too easy to become isolated as a freelancer. If you have a balanced, full life, you’ll be a better worker and happier all around.

David Sayce is a digital marketing consultant with 20 years of experience in digital marketing. David is passionate about helping businesses and professionals take control of their digital presence and present themselves in a way that inspires, impresses, and builds confidence in their products, and services.