Until just recently, making a decent living out of being a freelancer seemed like an impossible dream. Yet freelancing is growing rapidly across the globe, as the lure of getting to choose what to work on, and the flexibility of when and where to work, becomes harder to resist.
A 2018 report by financial services company Payoneer, which surveyed freelancers across 170 countries, showed that Africa holds 10.1 percent of the world's freelancers.
But even though the freelancing trend is growing globally, a new challenge has come with it — loneliness.
Although more than 90 percent of freelancers said they love being their own boss, 39 percent have reported experiencing loneliness, but that number rises to 54 percent of the 24-34 year old age group, according to recent piece published in Sage.
Loneliness as a freelancer comes not only from from working remotely by yourself, but also having a career that most of your friends and family may not fully understand. Further, you face a set of challenges that they may not understand.
Working alone can take a toll on you mentally, and you need to be prepared for the loneliness that comes with freelancing, according to Ellie Martin, co-founder of StartUp Change group.
"Freelancers must be prepared to accept a diminished social life in exchange for the flexibility and freedom of their work," said Martin.
And for the most part, this has been true. I'm extremely proud of the business I've built. But what I'm realizing lately is that while working in solitude has its benefits, it also has its downsides. It's a lot of feelings, but I'll group them into what I call "loneliness". 3/16— Whatever the opposite of Robert Palmer is (@robertpalmer) June 18, 2018
Especially now when people are changing their jobs more often, freelancing and living around the world - loneliness can be a huge issue.— Michelle Rødgaard (@MichelleRoed) September 5, 2017
But there are ways to combat this loneliness.
5 Ways To Tackle Loneliness As A Freelancer
1. Work in a coffice, aka a coffee shop office, from time to time. The sense of community, even if it's with strangers, may be better than working alone at home. Better yet, rent a coworking office, where you'll be surrounded by a community of other like-minded freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Freelancing and working on your own can be amazing, empowering, liberating.... but lonely. If loneliness becomes a problem for you, look for ways to replace the interaction that you used to have at your old job. Try coworking or networking, for example. #EarlyBiz— Ed Goodman (@edagoodman) June 14, 2018
2. Break the routine by partaking in community-friendly environments, or make time for social outings. This may be a gym class during lunchtime, volunteering at a shelter once a week, drinks with your friends every Friday — any social activity that will help you combat loneliness.
3. Get a pet. They've been proven to help reduce stress, decrease blood pressure and increase opportunities for socialisation. It's no mistake that dogs are called a man's best friend.
4. Work from a client's offices every now and then if it's an option. Not only does this help combat loneliness because you are surrounded by people, it may help you become more effective with your work, because any questions can be addressed there and then as your client is in the vicinity.
5. Find a virtual community online, perhaps a group of like-minded freelancers that you can chat with at any time, whether you're talking about freelancer problems or something not connected to your work. The sense of support can mean you never have to feel completely alone.
So freelancers -- especially new freelancers -- as you discover how best you work, don't underestimate the value of the feeling that you're part of a team. When your world starts feeling small, have the courage to make changes to your work and life. Don't ignore it. 15/16— Whatever the opposite of Robert Palmer is (@robertpalmer) June 18, 2018
Don't work alone forever. At least I can't. 16/16— Whatever the opposite of Robert Palmer is (@robertpalmer) June 18, 2018