Freelancing has its perks: pajamas “all the time”, no water-cooler small talk, no boss breathing down your neck, but it can definitely feel like an isolating gig. Often, while writing or researching, you’ll have questions you wish you could run by a coworker and seek someone’s advice. I’d like to talk about how to create that online community and its importance. I’ll include ideas about reaching out even if you’re on the more introverted side or feel undereducated, the benefits of creating connections, and where to find fellow bloggers.How to Create Your Own Online Community of Bloggers Click To Tweet
Why These Connections Are Important
Oftentimes, our work suffers without a little outside help. Working alone can be great because you develop your own distinct style, but sometimes it’s easy for that style to get stale if we work alone for too long. In order for us to be open to new ideas, though, we have to be open to criticism. To feel comfortable with criticism, choose to surround yourself with those whose opinions you trust. These relationships will be different from the typical co-worker relationships because you aren’t working on the same project together. As a result, your freelancer relationship will have the benefit of being one step removed from your work—a community of bloggers haven’t invested as much time as your co-workers would have, and they can help you from a totally different perspective.
Many freelancers love the solitude of the work. It’s easy to feel stuck in your freelance world, working away at your desk, and creating your own schedule. Stepping out of this can feel a little scary at times, especially if you’re calling into the void of the internet. On the other hand, many people are reporting that the loneliness of freelancing is its biggest downside. So, I’d say, start where you are comfortable. Reach out to someone you know who may not necessarily be in your field, but is freelancing as well. Set up a coworking time together where you can exchange ideas and bounce ideas off of each other, or just share in the woes of freelancing. Remember that everyone, at one point, was in the position that you are in now, and your fellow freelancers have a lot to gain from your perspective as well.
Where to Find Fellow Bloggers
While the introvert and scared student inside of us is growing more confident, shoot an email to a blogger you respect. Tell them specifically what you love about their work, and how you would love to connect with them sometime to discuss some ideas you’ve been working through. This can all happen over the phone too. People want to help—they will often be excited to hear from someone else, and if they’re not, they’re not really worth getting to know because their work is doomed to get stale without any kind of outside perspective.
Another great resource for building that community are your local Meetups. There are a million Meetup groups out there, and there are 429,198 members who are in freelancing Meetups. Count on it: a few of those people will be just the right resources for you to connect with. If you are just starting out, get yourself a side hustle, hone your skills, and build your community at the same time. Keep tabs on those who you want to maintain connections with.
Don’t underestimate the power of following back and engaging (actually engaging, not just some random emoji comments) with other’s content. There’s nothing weird about making friends online anymore. By engaging with their content sincerely, you’re showing that you are interested in their work, and a natural next step is connecting off the platform to talk more in depth.
Think about your blogging community like it’s a neighborhood watch group. You and your community can look out for each other, provide a variety of input, and quietly help each other out. Alone, you’re not as strong. In order for any group or relationship to be successful, you have to regularly speak. Who is another freelancer you really trust? Set up a weekly or bi-weekly reflection space with them, where you can update each other on your progress and bring up new issues. This line of work is very project-based, which has its perks, but it also makes it hard to establish learning goals. A regular time and space allows for you to see patterns in your work you may not otherwise see and grow more easily, as you take a step out of your work.
If you are a blogger, get a graphic designer freelancing friend, a photographer friend, an SEO freelancer friend, or even a blogger who writes totally different content from your own. Those who are in the freelance world can often share your experiences while offering a layman’s perspective of your work. Bloggers especially (and I’m guilty of this too from time to time) can be way too jargony with our language and as a result be totally inaccessible to the very audience we are trying to reach. Having a friend who is freelancing in a different field can provide a much-needed perspective from a place of understanding. And, who knows? Maybe you’d learn a thing or two about graphic design.
Reaching out can feel scary for sure—but after you’ve made the first connection, you’ll feel totally comfortable. Soon you will have a whole community around you, and a person who can help you with each unique issue you face.