Do you need a freelance comrade?

by Leo Wiles
02 February 2018

First up: there’s no shame in admitting that you like freelancing but you’re, well, lonely. Stifled by your own company. Sick of talking to the cat.

And if that’s the case, and you’re spending way too much time by yourself day in, day out, it might be time you found yourself a freelance comrade.

This can sometimes be hard to do if you’ve launched yourself into the freelance pond without actually knowing any other freelancers – but as time goes on, you’ll see, as the small business operator that you now are, just how essential it is to create that support network around yourself.

A freelance friend wouldn’t just be someone to gripe or have beers with on a Friday. He or she can also help you feel more on track and accountable – and, yes, happier knowing that there is someone in your corner who completely gets you, being in the same situation you are.

Personally, I was lucky enough to know a lot of freelance writers after a stint as a commissioning editor – so there were plenty of people to call upon when I started out working for myself in the 90s.

One of them was my very own dear friend, and freelance comrade Rachel Smith (of Rachel’s List). While we don’t often FaceTime, in the past 12 years we’ve normally touched base at least once if not twice during the day to debrief. Or to use each other as a sounding board to discuss new challenges, personal or professional.

Raising four children between us, we’ve compared notes on everything from night feeds, husbands, parents. We’ve built Rachel’s List, of course. We’ve talked about how to navigate clients, deal with writer’s block, brainstorm ideas, get the rates you deserve. We’ve given each other endless feedback and even proofread important emails for one another.

Since I moved interstate we don’t often get to crack the bubbly together, but we’ve been there through the rejections, the rewrites and the unreasonable demands. We’ve been there for one another with pep talks and reality checks when our confidence has wavered. Like your very own brains trust, your freelance buddy will get that bitching about declining word rates or sobbing for the golden days does not mean you want to throw in the towel – but are just having a moment. (Unlike your partner, who may be the one eagerly passing you the tablet loaded with job ads.)

A fellow writer you trust can also be invaluable for bouncing ideas off, or writing you around an obstacle you can’t quite get over yourself. A good freelance comrade can truly be the voice of reason and even, at times, help save your reputation. They can take on your overflow when times are tough. They can be the one you fall back on, giving you the courage to pitch for bigger contracts knowing that if you go on holiday or get sick they’re on standby to fill the breach.

I’d wager even the biggest introvert freelancer out there would benefit from a colleague – remote or round the corner – for all of the above. And, for staving off those insidious feelings of isolation that we all feel from time to time.

Have you got a freelance comrade in your corner?

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

3 responses on "Do you need a freelance comrade?"

  1. I have freelanced for most of the past 20 years and it has been lonely, professionally. Brisbane based and from a newsroom yet barely know a soul still in the industry. Does that make me a lone wolf?!

    1. Leo Wiles says:

      Hi Heather,
      If you start howling on Feb 10 I would say yes ha ha.
      As journos I think because we spend so much time interviewing and researching with others, well for me that’s enough pack mentality on a job.

    2. Rachel Smith says:

      Heather, it sounds like you should create your own Brisbane posse! Or start a freelance FB group for QLD freelancers, if there isn’t one out there already? Even if you’re not meeting in person much, it will help the loneliness big time.

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