There are endless benefits to freelancing. If asked, most freelancers could offer a full presentation on these perks, an argument perfected during conversations with doubting relatives over the holidays.
Like all good things, however, entrepreneurship also has its cons. Isolation is one of the most prevalent negatives to independent creation. Though you often hear about the damaging mental effects of working alone, there’s a less-discussed issue that comes from owning your business: Freelancers rarely have access to growth-inducing mentorship.
Depending on your journey to entrepreneurship, you may have learned under more experienced professionals in the jobs you held before you started freelancing. Or maybe you developed your skills and knowledge while earning a degree or certification. Once you started building your business, however, you likely learned as you went.
And there’s A LOT to learn.
You can find courses on running a business or improving your skill set, but it is difficult (and expensive) to get all of the resources you need as a freelancer. And even if you wanted to find a mentor, where do you begin?
On the podcast this week, Alex, our guest, shared his strategy for nurturing relationships that allow him to learn from others with more experience and wisdom. Alex said he pursues friendships with people who are in stages of life that are different from his own, such as those who are older than him or have been married longer. By trying to ask good questions and learning from their advice, he enriches his life.
Though he uses this strategy to pursue personal growth, it made me think about the ways freelancers could use it for professional growth as well. Here are some of the ideas I came up with:
You may not know anyone who works in your field, but you probably know at least one person who has insights that you can apply to your business. Maybe your uncle once worked in sales or your college roommate is now a digital marketer. Or, like me, you may have a family member who owns their own business and can offer tips for taxes and other business-related tasks.
Since there are so many facets to freelancing, you can learn valuable lessons from nearly anyone in your circle. You don’t have to take their advice, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it.
As a copywriter, I have often worked with seasoned marketing professionals who just need an extra team member for their projects. These clients have taught me so much and helped shape me as a writer. I’ve learned best practices, sharpened areas I was getting lazy in, and been pushed to keep growing.
No matter your field, keep an eye out for these types of clients. Learn what you can from them during your work together. Depending on the relationship, you might also propose a more official mentorship from them after your collaboration ends. Just make sure that you won’t be doing any more projects together to avoid a conflict of interest.
You’re not alone in your struggle with isolation. If you live in or near a large city, you may be able to find a local group of entrepreneurs who connect to share knowledge and experiences. There are also numerous groups that live online. Try Facebook, Reddit, and other social-focused tools to find the community best suited for your growth. You can also use freelance platforms to connect with like-minded people.
If you can’t find the right group, make your own! Reach out to others in your field with an invite. It may take more time and effort, but it can be just as enriching in the long run.
Many of us subscribe to or follow more established players in our industries. Some may have huge followings or just offer great work that inspires you. Either way, consider reaching out to them with a mentorship proposal. They may say no or not respond, but you may also get the opportunity to learn from someone you admire.
From online courses to podcasts to blogs, there are millions of resources available for freelancers. Use this content to hear different perspectives, learn from others’ mistakes, and find ways to improve.
Get the full story from Alex here, where you’ll learn the importance of knowing yourself, how your self-identity defines your purpose, and how to reclaim a can-do, why-not perspective.