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4 Reasons Freelance Platforms Are A Good Thing

Business woman searching job opportunities onlineI know, I know. In the greater professional freelance community, a lot of people frown on freelance platforms. And I totally understand why. After all, they are a mixed bag and you don’t always know what you’re going to get.

But I contend that freelance platforms have their place — they are a good thing in certain circumstances.

Here are four reasons when using a freelance platform to find work is beneficial:

1. When you are new to freelancing and have nothing to back you up.Artboard 57-100

You have no portfolio, no connections from previous employment, and possibly no knowledge of how freelancing even works. In this situation, a freelance platform allows you to gain exposure to clients and build the portfolio you need to move on to bigger and better things.

You see, the freelance platform is a space where everything is setup, communication and application for freelance jobs is structured and facilitated. You have everything you need right there.

You can set up a portfolio, but more important, you will have a rating and feedback from clients. Ultimately, this will result in more and better-paying work. And each time you work for a client, you can ask their permission to include the work you’ve done for them in your portfolio, which you can then use to find clients off the platform.

2. You can find work quickly.

You can go onto a freelance platform, spend half an hour to an hour submitting proposals for jobs, and have a job within a few minutes or a few hours. Yes, it can work that quickly, as opposed to sending out queries and depending on networking to bring in work, which can take days or weeks to pan out.

3. It eliminates dry spells.

Consider the freelance platform as backup. If you are between projects with your non-platform clients and looking for work, you can go for long stretches. I have heard numerous people talk about dry spells and I have NEVER had one. Not once in 13+ years have I had no work to do.

Simply put, there is a constant flow of potential work on a platform. There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of jobs posted every single day. You can literally apply for 20-30 jobs a day without much effort.

4. You get paid quickly.paper-3147856_640

When you are working with a client off a platform, you are relying on invoicing and payment terms you set up with them. You can set your terms, but chasing down payment can become a problem, I think more so than on a platform. And bigger companies may have their own timeline for paying out invoices, which can be as much as 30 days or more.

On a freelance platform, at least on a good one, you have escrow protection. The client funds the escrow before you start the work. When you’re done and the work is approved, payment is released immediately.

Plus, if the client takes too long to pay, you get your money released automatically after a certain amount of time. And if they bugger off entirely, good platforms will guarantee your pay and you’ll still get it.

So, where do platforms fit into the bigger picture? 

First, I do not think it’s wise to depend only on platforms for your entire freelance income. I think they make a great stepping stone when getting started. And I think they should always be there as a fallback for when other sources of clients hit a dry spell.

Why should freelance platforms not be your only source of clients? After all, they have been for me pretty much my entire freelance career. But when I started out, it was really the only option, or at least the only one I knew of, for online freelancing. And it’s what I always did. I managed well enough and even made a decent income, but it’s not easy.Female browsing through clothing In a Thrift Store

There are a lot of low-end clients on freelance platforms. These are people who want to pay next to nothing for high quality work. If you use a good platform — I have found Upwork to be the best — there are quality clients on there. But you have to find them.

It’s like going into a used clothing store. There are always awesome clothes, but you have to dig through all the crap to find them. On a freelance platform, you have to sift through all the crappy jobs to find the good ones. I know my way around a platform, but if you’re new to it, you will have to learn the ropes.

Ultimately, your freelance work should be sourced off-platform as much as possible. Building a website is hugely important and is something I’ll blog about soon. But keep one or two freelance platform accounts/memberships active for when you might need them. It never hurts.

Do you have experience with freelance platforms? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Cheers, Karen

5 Things I Did to Save Myself from Freelance Burnout

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We’ve all heard about people burning out in their jobs and careers. This certainly isn’t a new phenomenon. However, it is getting worse.

In the U.S., a recent Gallup poll found that 23% of workers feel work burnout frequently or always and 44% feel burned out at least some of the time. In the UK, more than half a million people are dealing with work-related stress and the mental health issues that can go with that.

Stress the job can come from a number of factors, such as working long hours, too much responsibility, not enough pay, and a host of other things. However, I’m not just talking about burnout because of being overworked. I’m also talking about career burnout, when you have done something a long time and you lose your passion for it. Forbes has a great article about recognizing the signs of career burnout, which are:maze-1804499_640

  • You don’t care anymore
  • You don’t see any interesting challenges ahead
  • Small things irritate you more than they should
  • You can no longer focus
  • You can’t seem to snap out of it

Now, here’s what you need to know…

Freelancers are NOT immune to workplace OR career burnout.

New or with years of experience behind them, freelancers can burn out. However, freelancers are in a unique position to handle that burnout in ways perhaps an employed person cannot. I can speak to this honestly because I have been feeling career burnout as a freelancer for the past year or so and I’ve learned…

It’s okay! It’s not the end of the world! There are things I can do about it!

Now, to be fair, my feelings of needing something more are not as simple as I’m bored with freelancing. I’m not really bored with it, per se. A large part of it for me is that I have hit my midlife re-calibration (a term one of my awesome Twitter contacts came up with). I am at a point in my life where I seriously need to consider how I want to live the second half of it. And this is what I have come up with:

  • I want to become a successful, working screenwriter
  • I want to connect with and help others – particularly women – in freelancing and in other ways

These are the two factors driving my decisions in terms of career and life in general. These are my new focus. As such, here are the things I have done within the past year to help me along my new path:

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  1. I started studying screenwriting: A year ago I signed up for the Toronto Film School’s online Writing for Television and Film course. I am LOVING it. I feel like screenwriting is a natural fit for me. Not only that, but I am really trying to put myself out there. The only script I have finished to date is a short film and I submitted it to the Austin Film Festival’s screenplay competition.
  2. I got a part-time job: Last November, I got a part-time job with our local bookstore. It was something I had thought about doing before and then it just kind of happened. After the holidays, I was put on flex, but the job isn’t about the money. I make more as a freelancer. The bookstore is about getting out and interacting with people while doing something that is fun for me.
  3. I started this blog: I have become very passionate about helping women in freelancing. One way I can do this is through this blog, which is why I started in January, and my Freelance Woman of the Month, which began this month.
  4. I am creating freelance courses and coaching: I want to help people launch, grow, and expand their freelance business because I know how challenging that can be. There is a lot more that goes into than many people realize, so I am creating four 4-week courses and offering coaching services to help those who feel it would benefit them.
  5. I started a local Meetup: I want to connect with people where I live. I don’t live in a big city, but at nearly 400,000 people, I figured there would be interest in a freelance Meetup. Turns out I was right.

Who knows, maybe in the future I will do coffee-break-1177540_640other things that will hep freelancers, both in my local community and abroad. I’d love to see a freelance conference happen. I don’t think we have one in Canada, at least not that I’m aware of. The only thing remotely close to that is only associated with writing, but it’s not strictly related to freelancing. And since there are so many ways to freelance, a conference devoted entirely to freelancing would be great.

Other things I plan to do in the future? I plan to write a book about my experience as a freelancer. I also plan to really get out there with my screenwriting more and more.

Life is exciting! There is so much potential. Don’t waste it, embrace it!

Now, tell us all about how you stave off freelance burnout, whether that is burnout from the job itself and making ends meet or career burnout. We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Cheers, Karen

 

5 Factors to Consider when Prioritizing Freelance Work

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No freelancer is EVER going to turn down a job…

At least, not unless they have established themselves well enough that they truly have the freedom to pick and choose the projects they want and the clients they want to work with. One of the hard truths about freelancing, especially in the early years, is that you might run out of work. This means you want to take every scrap of it you can get, even if it means having multiple jobs going on at the same time.

Now, I can honestly say that in the 13+ years I have been working as a freelance writer, I have NEVER been without work. That’s awesome, right? But the worry that I would be without work was still always there. These days, it’s rare that I ever have that worry plague me, but the reality is that, as freelancers, we are always going to be juggling multiple clients and jobs.

After all, we have to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.

I have blogged before about creating a freelance schedule. But what I want to talk about here is a little bit different. Here I want to talk about prioritizing the projects and deadlines you have. I want to get down to the nitty gritty of what job you get done first, second, and so on.

Yes, I realize this might seem self-explanatory, but it’s not really. You see, I don’t necessarily get projects done in the order in which clients hire me to do them. There are a number of factors that play into how I organize what work gets done when.

With that in mind, here are five factors that play into how I prioritize and organize the projects I’m working on…

Client Deadlinenow-1272358_640

The absolute first and most important factor in prioritizing client work is and always must be client deadlines. Your job is to deliver what the client wants when the client wants it. The order in which your clients have hired you is not the deciding factor — it’s when they need to work done.

For example, if a client hires me on Monday for a white paper they need by the following Monday, then another client hires me to write a blog post they need by Thursday, I will do the blog post first. This is assuming I have time to do both.

It’s all about prioritizing the jobs you have to do. So, take your active jobs and a calendar and schedule out the hard deadline for each job. This is the first view into what you need to complete and when.

Size of the Job

Now that you have all your deadlines mapped out on a calendar, map out any major milestones you have set up with your clients. Because if it’s a bigger project, you will probably have milestone deadlines along the way. Make sure you factor these in.

If the job is big, you won’t want to leave it all to the end. Finishing the three other, smaller jobs with tighter deadlines first is great. But if you have’t touched the research or started writing on the big job that had a longer deadline, you have a recipe for stress and potential disaster.

What will Give Me a Win

Once I know what is due and when, what has multiple milestones or is a big enough project that I need to get on it earlier in my schedule, it’s time to let psychology into the picture.

Sometimes, I find I just need a win.

When no one project is particularly pressing, I can dive into one that I can get done and cross off the list quickly. This gives me a feeling of accomplishment and lightens the load. And this is particularly important when I am feeling overwhelmed by all the work I have to do.

Cash Flowmoney-2159310_640

Yes, money factors into the prioritization process. Working on a bigger project and making milestones is important, but you also can’t wait five weeks to bring in some money. So, sometimes, particularly when things are tight, you might have to schedule a project that will bring in some cash quickly.

This often goes hand-in-hand with getting a win, but it can also stand on it’s own. When you have those final deadlines and milestones mapped out and you see that you won’t be getting paid for a few days or weeks, it’s time to find one or two smaller projects that will improve the cash flow quickly.

Downtime

Finally, it’s important to look at downtime. As a freelancer, you will have times when you are busier than others. But you always need some downtime.

I fully admit, I am not great at balancing work and life sometimes. While I try to take weekends off, it doesn’t always work out. And there are times I run into a wall. I simply can’t stare at my screen anymore and I have to slide in a day off to recharge.

Of course, this is the last consideration. If I have a deadline looming, I can’t take that person-3536950_640breather until the work is done. If I need cash yesterday, I can’t take that breather until I know there is money coming in. But when all is relatively calm and running smoothly and I need a day or two, I take it — no matter where I am in the week and what needs to be done.

Handling multiple clients and projects can be challenging, but when you use these factors to prioritize the work, it will ease the pressure and help keep you on track and sane.

If you have any tips or tricks to add with regards to prioritizing client work, give us a shout in the comments section below!

Cheers, Karen

4 Reasons Freelancing Might Not Be For You

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I really hate to break it to you, but…

Freelancing isn’t for everyone

I do believe that most people can work well as a freelancer, but only if their personality and a few other critical factors fall into place. There are some people who simply won’t find freelancing a good fit and there are four primary reasons why .

1. Freelancing Turns Out to Be Too Much Workadult-1850268_640

It is a common misconception that freelancing is an easy way to make a buck while sitting at home in your PJs all day. NO!

If you think this way, get this notion out of your head right now.

Sure, you could sit in your pajamas all day, every day, but you would get bored (and maybe a little ripe). Simply put, after a while the novelty would wear off and you wouldn’t feel terribly professional.

If you are looking for the easy way to make money, then stick to working for someone else. Becoming a freelancer is not for the weak or the undisciplined. It takes hard work to find clients, get the work done well and on time, and keep clients happy.

In fact, while the average American in the private sector works 34.5 hours per week, the average freelancer puts in 46.6 hours per week. More than 40% of freelancers work over 40 hours per week, 25% work more than 50 hours per week, and 7% work more than 60 hours per week. Some of that work is actual paid client work, but a lot of it is related to other aspects of running your freelance business, such as finding clients, marketing, and issuing invoices.

Of course, you have the freedom of working those hours where and when you want, which is one of the biggest reasons we do what we do as freelancers. But remember, no one will be looking over your shoulder to make sure you are getting your work done. No one will be telling you to stay late when the sun is shining outside.

If you can’t handle this on your own, you won’t succeed as a freelancer.

2. You Want Total Stability

Cash flow management system

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the stability freelancing offers in terms of generating multiple streams of income. This protects you from a faltering economy by ensuring that if one or two clients go under, there are others to fall back on.

But here I am talking about a different type of stability.

Here I am talking about the need for consistency in terms of when that all-too-precious invoice is paid. Freelancing isn’t predictable. Even if you have consistent work, you will not be getting a paycheck every Friday at 5 pm and here’s why:

  • You will have different projects going on at any given time.
  • These projects will have varying start and end dates.
  • The clients will take varying lengths of time to go over the work and provide feedback.
  • Revisions may or may not be needed.
  • The clients will have different policies with regards to issuing payment. Some might pay right away, some might pay at 30 days past the invoice date.

What does this mean?

You might have one week where you bring $200 into your bank account and another week where you bring in $2,000. One month might see $1,500 and the next might pay out $5,000.

The point is, there is no consistency. You have to be okay with that. You have to plan for it so that your cash flow will always be positive and you will never be without money.

If you can’t handle it, freelancing isn’t for you.

3. You Can’t Deal With the Isolation

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Freelancing is a one-person deal.

It will be only you sitting there day in and day out, working on your various projects. Are you OK with this?

I have had many people tell me the toughest thing about freelancing for them is the isolation. Not having anyone to talk to all day, every day. And if you are an extroverted person, this will be even tougher.

Yes, there will be communication with clients at times, but few others if anyone else.

Now, in a past post I have talked about isolation. We all feel it from time to time and there are ways to deal with it. There are different places you can work and some of these are places where you can chat and network with othersBut overall, there is a certain amount of isolation that comes with freelancing.

If you can’t handle it, then freelancing might not be for you.

4. You Aren’t Truly Proficient at What You Do

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Finally—and this is a big one—you need to have the skills to do your job well. I am committed to helping anyone and everyone who truly wants to be a freelancer, but that is assuming that they have the skills to provide the services they want to provide.

For example, if you are a writer and English isn’t your first language, then you better be absolutely certain you are proficient in English. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen job proposals and profiles written by people who are selling their writing services and clearly cannot write well in English.

The same goes for graphic design, web design, or any other skill set. If you aren’t already incredibly good at what you do, if you haven’t mastered the necessary skills, then you have no business selling your services. And I can’t help you with getting your freelance career off the ground if you can’t do the work—no one can!

Blunt, but Honest

I realize that what I have said in this post is pretty blunt. And it’s meant to be. If you are serious about freelancing, I want you to succeed. I want each and every one of you to establish a great and prosperous freelance career.

But you can’t do that if any of the above are a problem for you.

So, take a good look at why you are freelancing, how you handle these issues, and how well you can provide your service. If you feel confident about all aspects of freelancing or you honestly believe you can improve any of the above reasons why freelancing might not be for you, then you are well on your way to success.

And if you know of any other major roadblocks to succeeding as a freelancer, any other reasons why it might not be a suitable career for a person, please share with us in the comments section below.

Cheers, Karen

5 Tips to Create a Freelance Schedule and Stick to It!

diary-614149_640When’s the last time you got off schedule? Come on be honest.

We lay out our work, we get ourselves organized and prioritized, and then we schedule our time in a way that will most effectively see that work done and submitted on time. 

But reality is generally not reflective of the effort we put into that schedule or the balance we are trying to achieve. All too often, we find ourselves veering off, falling behind, or just plain hitting a wall.

Creating a schedule is never going to be perfect and neither is following that schedule. But here are five tips that will help make your scheduling efforts at least a little more reliable:

1. Just Because You Work From Home…apple-1834328_640

Working from home, which most freelancers (and other creative people, such as novelists and screenwriters) do, does not mean you are available at all hours. Yet, there is the potential for many distractions from home that are avoidable if you set boundaries for your family and for yourself.

Family: Make sure they understand that when you have office hours, you are not to be disturbed. No, you aren’t available to make a quick run to the store. No, you don’t have time to walk the dog. No, no, no…

Set appropriate boundaries. Make your office hours clear. And if you have a door to your office, close it when you are working. It can be very easy for family members to think that just because you are physically in the house, you aren’t doing anything important. It’s up to you to remind them that you are.

I know I have told my kids many times to pretend I’m not there and to figure it out themselves. Unless the house is on fire or someone is dying, don’t interrupt me.

Yourself: Even if you are alone in the house, distractions are all around you. While doingdishes-197_640 a chore or two while on a break is productive, procrastinating on work by doing that sink full of dishes, then mopping the floors is not, then folding the laundry, then… Well, this just isn’t productive.

And don’t forget about those other distractions, like the television. Checking to see what Ellen is up to is not going to help you get your work done. Unless. of course, you happen to be writing an article about Ellen. If you are, then lucky you!

Then there is the potential distraction right under your fingertips. It is so easy to go off on a tangent while conducting research or answer that Skype message that just came in. Next thing you know, you need a break from looking at the screen and you haven’t gotten very far in your work. Turn off email and other notifications. Get rid of distracting websites. And ultimately, use some self-discipline, which is sometimes easier said than done.

2. Take Breathers

Schedule break time. Everyone needs a work break. In fact, it has been shown that the brain follows the same rhythm of activity during the day as it does when you’re asleep. It’s called the ultradian rhythm and following it will ensure your mind is operating at its peak when you need it to.

Essentially, the human brain can only keep its focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs to rest. The ultradian rhythm is a cycle of 90-minute work periods, followed by 20-minute breaks. By working in this manner, your brain will work extremely efficiently, then you will rest it, and then it will work efficiently again. And during that rest time, that’s when you can do that sink full of dishes and work in time for lunch and walking the dog.

3. Set Reasonable Deadlinestime-481444_640

This goes for both you and your clients. Granted, you don’t always have a lot of control over the deadlines clients set, but what is reasonable for them might not be for you when considering your overall workload. If you find the deadline too tight, let your client know. They might be able to adjust it, and if not, it’s better you all know that upfront.

When it comes to setting your own deadlines, let the client deadlines be the guideposts. Schedule the tightest deadlines first and work the more flexible ones around those. You really need to have a good feeling for how much you can get done in a certain period of time and set deadlines accordingly.

It took me a few years to determine how much I could get done in a certain amount of time. Packing too much into one day is something I am frequently guilty of, but something I have been working to improve. This practice does no one any favors.

4. Leave Room to Wiggle

Speaking of packing too much in, it is important to leave wiggle room in your schedule. You need to do this on two levels:

  • Sometimes, a work task takes longer than you intended. Maybe you’re having an off day or maybe the research took longer to pull together than you expected. Either way, if this happens and your schedule is back-to-back, you’ll run out of time before getting everything done. So, schedule a cushion of a few minutes around each task to ensure you have enough time.
  • You never know what life will throw at you or when. You could lose your internet connection. The power could go out. Your mother might call and keep you on the phone for a half-an-hour. Leaving a little wiggle room on a day-to-day level will help with these unexpected interruptions.

5. Check Your Schedule Regularly

Finally, check your schedule throughout the day and each evening. During the day it is a good idea to check in and see how on-track you are. You might find you have gotten behind, which means you can make small adjustments to get back on track. Or you might find you’ve gotten ahead (a rare occasion that would be something to celebrate), in which case, you can get ahead with work (the responsible choice) or you can take off early (the fun choice).

And check your schedule every evening (or first thing in the morning if that works better for you) and see if you are on track on the grander scale. If it looks like you might not make a deadline, then you might have to make adjustments as you go. Better to do that along the way than be surprised at the end of the week.

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Ultimately, creating and keeping to a schedule will help you keep your sanity. It will also help you schedule in your days off and hopefully stick to them. I’m not always successful at this. It depends on what I have on my plate at a given moment, but I always try to take my weekends. And if you are just starting out in freelancing, this is a great time to get into the habit of managing your schedule, when your schedule may not yet be too full.

I would love to hear your ideas of how you stick to your schedule. Please share with us in the comments section below!

Cheers, Karen

The Freelance Workplace: Solitude or Isolation

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A couple of weeks ago, I did a post about creating that perfect home office. This is the place where the genius happens. It’s where you earn your paycheck. It’s where you can escape from the kids and get some real work done.

Working from home is generally very productive. There are few of the distractions commonly found in the workplace. In fact, Udemy published a Workplace Distraction Report in which they reveal that:

  • 80% of workers feel chatty coworkers are a distraction
  • 70% feel office noise is a distraction
  • 61% feel device and technology changes in the workplace are a distraction

At home, there are no coworkers to distract you. You won’t hear them gossiping by the water cooler. No one is going to stop by your office and bend your ear about a new idea or an annoying client. Breaks and lunch can be taken when desired. And the power to turn off distractions and get a lot accomplished is all yours.

But at what point does this workplace solitude start to feel like isolation?

There is no denying the fact that working as a freelancer from a home office means working alone. All. The. Time. And I would wager to guess even the most introverted of us feels isolated from time to time.

When there are no work colleagues to talk to day in and day out. When we never actually SEE our clients face-to-face. When we only ever really see and talk to our family, or worse, live alone, what do we do?

I am a single mother of two teenagers. I have spent nearly 12 years freelancing from my home office. I get feeling isolated. I don’t even have another adult in the house to talk to!

Most of the time, I get along just fine, but I have my moments. We all do. That’s when a change of scenery is called for. And that’s when one of many other potential places can become your office for the day. Here are some options:

Porch/Deck

I know this might not be an option for everyone. But if there is a front porch, a back deck, or even an apartment balcony accessible, this is a great way to get a change of scenery, while still enjoying all the comforts and amenities of the home office.

Getting outside at your own home provides fresh air while working. It’s peaceful and can provide more inspiration than the four walls of the indoor office. My porch is my summer office.

Local Library

The local library is a fabulous place to work as a freelancer. And for so many reasons, including:

  • Free internet
  • Loads of quiet areas
  • Desks
  • Outlets
  • Plenty of research material
  • There is usually a good coffee shop nearby (or bring lunch from home)

I have taken advantage of working at the library and it is ideal. It makes for a great change of scenery and doesn’t cost you a dime.

Coffee Shopsbreak-2642605_640

This is one of my favorite options. But I just love coffee shops, anyway. I love the atmosphere, the quiet bustle, the music (most of the time), and the baristas. Coffee shops offer the following:

  • Free internet (some local establishments don’t offer this, but this can make it easier to work without distractions when you don’t need internet)
  • Comfortable seating
  • Good food and drinks
  • The opportunity to chat with people (less isolating)
  • The opportunity to network with other professionals, particularly if you frequent the shop on a regular schedule

Of course, it is easy to spend money when at a coffee shop, but many freelancers can use this as a work expense when filing taxes.

Local University/College

I have not used my local university as a place to work, but I know a lot of people do. A university has a great atmosphere in which to work. Plus, it offers:

  • Free internet
  • A wide range of choices when it comes to location—library, student union, and study cubicles everywhere!
  • Places to get food and beverages if desired
  • The opportunity to chat with people

A local university definitely has a buzz and a unique atmosphere. It’s a great work environment for those who feel comfortable working in an educational setting.

Local Park

This is similar to getting outside on a porch or deck at home. But it offers an even greater change of scenery. Getting outside is so soothing. It’s good for the soul, for creativity, and for productivity.

There are plenty of park benches and picnic tables available. Plus, in many municipalities there is now free Wi-Fi in the downtown core. This is the case where I live, and we aren’t a huge city. There is even a charging station at our downtown park.

Co-working Spaceeurope-2230829_640

A co-working space is a great option. I cannot say I have firsthand experience because the city in which I live is too small to have one of these gems. However, anyone who wants office space can rent that space at a co-working facility. They can rent a desk in an open-office concept or a private office, full-time or part-time.

Co-working spaces also tend to offer a number of amenities. Depending on the facility, these might include:

  • Some hardware, such as printers and photocopiers
  • Office supplies
  • Meeting rooms
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Fitness facilities
  • Networking events
  • Referral service
  • Reception staff

In larger cities, co-working spaces can be pretty swanky. While there is a rental fee associated with them, they offer the freelancer many opportunities, including the opportunity to network with other professionals. Those in a co-working environment can refer their clients to each other and collaborate on projects.

The World!

Yes, the whole world can be a freelancer’s office.

Think about it. A freelancer only needs a laptop and Wi-Fi. And free Wi-Fi can be found in airports, hotels, and resorts around the world. Having the freedom to travel while working, allows freelancers to:

  • Go on a working vacation
  • Visit family without taking time off work
  • Travel extensively while working
  • Become a digital nomad

This last one is really catching on. Many freelancers will literally live in a city for a few months or longer and then move on to a new city. They might spend a year in London and then move to Paris for six months before heading to Tokyo for a couple of years. There is no limit.

I have taken working vacations and been able to travel through California, visit family for an extended period of time, and even just get away for the day. I love the small towns in my area. It’s great to escape from time to time and spend my day in a different town, sipping a chai latte in their local coffee shop, and enjoying new scenery by the lake.

Now, aside from working in different locations, there are a few other ways to alleviate the feeling of isolation when you’re a freelancer. These include:

Get Outside

Weather-permitting, get outside, even if it’s just in the yard. Chat with the neighbors when you see them. Go for a walk to your local park. See the light of day other than what little streams through the office window. And get some fresh air.

Take a Trip

If it is affordable and logistically possible, do it. Make it a working vacation of sorts, even if it’s only for a night or two in a nearby town. I realize this isn’t necessarily possible if there are family or other commitments. But it might work for some people.

Other Freelancers

Make an effort to find other freelancers nearby. Perhaps all of you can get together and form a local freelance group. After all, writers have local writing groups. Meeting regularly and setting up times and places to work together can alleviate that sense of isolation.

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Many cities offer business networking opportunities. These are groups that meet regularly, exchange business cards, collaborate on projects, and make referrals. This is a great way to meet other professionals and get out of the office.

Online Networking

While this isn’t as ideal as face-to-face networking, it is easy to meet other professionals online. Use forums and professional networking sites to find and chat with other freelancers and professionals.

Get a Job

I know this sounds funny, but it can be effective. Get a part-time job aside from the full-time freelancing. This will offer a change of pace, the chance to meet new people, and relief from always working alone.

I used to work as the lunch duty supervisor at my daughters’ elementary school. An hour a day away from my desk, interacting with teachers, staff, and kids made for a nice break in my day. Now, my kids are in high school and I took a part-time job at our local bookstore. I love it! I love the people I work with. I love chatting with customers. Plus, it’s – well – a bookstore!

While it can be tough to work from home all the time, there are options. I know it is harder when home is in a rural location. I’ve done that, too. But there are ways to lessen that feeling of isolation and interact with others.

And perhaps freelancing from a home office isn’t for everyone. I think there are ways most of us can make it work. But in the end we each have to make the decision that is best for us.

What ways have you managed to alleviate that feeling of isolation as a freelancer? We’d love to hear about it, so chime in in the comments section!

Cheers, Karen

Where Are Your Eggs?

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I have had A LOT of jobs during my adult lifetime. I started out working for the Geological Survey of Canada out of university. After all, I had just spent 7 years studying earth sciences and came out the other end with a MSc. Didn’t I have to work in that field?

But as soon as there was uncertainty as to whether my contract was going to be renewed, I jumped ship. In the years following, as I lived married life and eventually had children, I designed and made beaded jewelery that I sold in the ByWard Market in Ottawa, did some freelance editing, ran a bead store in the mall in the months leading up to 9/11, sold Mary Kay, and eventually became an instructor for the only company-run Kumon centre in Canada.

Then, after the birth of our second child, we moved to London, ON. With two children age 2 and under and with the need for more income, I turned to freelance writing. And after 13 years, I can still say I am so glad I did! Seriously, there was a time, just a couple of generations ago, when you would go to work for one company for your entire career. You had security. I have a couple of uncles who worked for the phone company for their entire lives, and their sons did, too. It was almost like the family business.

But times have changed.

doors-1767563_640These days it seems those who go to work for a company their whole life are a dying breed. Even Americans born between 1957 and 1964 have had an average of 12 jobs during their lifetime. One reason for this is the desire of the Millennial generation to put their loyalty with the work they do rather than the company for whom they do it.

Millennials are more likely to stay with a company if that company has a specific social purpose or mission. Profit shouldn’t be the only driver to a company’s success. In fact, many would take a pay cut just to work for a company that jives with their values. And Millennials also desire more flexibility, something that results in higher productivity, better overall performance, deeper engagement with their job, and improved wellness, health, and happiness.

In other words, Millennials have different priorities in life than previous generations.

The other reason many people aren’t working with one company their entire career is the economic instability that constantly hangs over our heads. Companies closing, downsizing, laying people off. It can be difficult to know if you have any real security no matter who you work for.

And if you put all your eggs in one employment basket, you risk losing them all when someone upends that basket.

Spread Your Eggs Around

Freelancing provides you with many baskets.

When you freelance, you aren’t just working for one employer. Instead, you work for multiple clients. If one of them runs into tough times, closes down, loses funding, you still have others to fall back on.

And you can always find more if you need to. There are always new clients out there waiting to hire a brilliant freelancer. If you lose one or two clients, you can always replace them. There is no end to the flow of clients and work when it comes to freelancing.

Add to that the fact that:balcony-1834990_640

  • You can work for people and companies you believe in
  • Try new niches and forms of freelance service
  • Have complete flexibility in terms of where, when, and how you work
  • Have no income ceiling

You just can’t get a better deal than that!

Not All At Once

Now, if you are already working for a company, you likely aren’t just going to quit and jump into freelancing full-time. Just take things one step at a time. If you are interested in freelancing, you can do it part-time. This way, you will have your full-time job AND extra work with your freelance clients.

As your freelance business grows, you can make the leap from being employed by a company to freelancing full-time. The beauty is that you can do this whenever you feel you are ready and only IF you want.

With a freelancing career you have complete freedom!

That is one of the many things I love about freelancing—the freedom. As for me and my many career hats, I’m not done yet. I am beginning the shift form freelancer to freelance coach. And I am studying screenwriting and working on ultimately steering my ship in that direction.

After all, I’m in my mid-40s now, and I feel like I am ready to start over and see where life takes me. And that is the real reason that I have been a career-switcher throughout my life. I would get way too bored working a 9-5 in the same job my whole life.

Freelancing has given me the flexibility and diversity in clients and writing topics that I have been content all these years. I just know there is more out there for me.

What about you? Have you had multiple jobs/careers? How does freelancing fit into your life and why do you do it? Have you found freelancing to be beneficial in terms of stability? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cheers, Karen