Freelancing introverts are superheroes.
We might not have capes, but our inner monologue keeps us creative. We daydream instead of talk. We listen.
Introverts process stimulation differently, we think things through thoroughly, and we excel at putting our thoughts into words.
Our superpower is quiet but fierce.
Here is your freelancing guide to making introversion work FOR you.
If you’re a busy freelancer (and I hope you are), then you need to keep an eye on your mental (and physical) health.
Freelancing can be lonely. Some days I spend 12 hours a day holed up in my office, not speaking to another person or even seeing the sun. NOT good.
Make sure that you schedule YOU-TIME and take breaks.
- Sticking to a schedule that includes downtime for yourself is crucial. You are your own employer and employee, so take care not to let stress build up over time.
- Talk to others (even if it’s only an email once a week), go out with friends, and sit in the sunshine occasionally, to stay active and productive.
- Go make yourself a cup of coffee and watch an episode of The Office.
- Take breaks even if you don’t want to. You don’t want your business to suffer if you’re stressed out.
Taking frequent breaks is an opportunity to reclaim your imagination.
If your creativity is stalled, keep a notepad with you. You never know when that magical idea is going strike inspiration.
Last month, when I felt like my creativity had hit a dead end, I carried my laptop out of my stuffy office and sat down at my kitchen table. That simple change of scenery sparked my creativity, and I was back in action.
Work from different locations, even if it is just a different table in your house. Ideally, you should put pants on and leave the house entirely. Visit a café or the library for a few hours.
(You can even check out local co-working spaces to see if they are a good fit for you.)
As introverts, it doesn’t take much to have our energy, and thus our creativity, zapped.
Make sure to work on your own projects often. Devoting energy to your own projects will help you remember why you want to freelance in the first place.
Are you someone who will walk up ten flights of stairs rather than risk riding in an elevator with a stranger? Me too.
When I see jobs that require teamwork, I cringe.
I am a freelance writer because I like working alone. I work best independently like most introverts. But sometimes we’ve got to bite the bullet and work with other people.
Maybe it’s your dream job that you just can’t turn down, or perhaps you just need a paycheck.
Whatever the case, I assure you, you can get over your fear of teamwork.
Rehearse! Introverts need mental space to process thoughts and generate ideas. If a team meeting is coming up, write all your thoughts and ideas down, so you don’t have to rely on your memory once you start feeling stimulation overload.
Practice what you want to say and say it out loud.
This neat little trick gives you the confidence to speak your mind when the time comes.
Occasionally, I miss an office environment. I miss lunchtime conversations that start with, “Did you hear about…” What I don’t miss is the open-office torture chamber of constant chatter, nose blowing, and keyboard clacking.
But I do miss making connections with others.
Sometimes you meet someone, and you just click. You think, “Yeah, this person is part of my tribe.”
We don’t get much of that working from home.
Working in a team can be a little (or a lot) scary but only at first. It will benefit you more than it will worry you.
REMEMBER: It’s okay if you aren’t good at small talk. The joy of working virtually is that people don’t expect too much chit-chat before getting down to business. And when they do, you can take your time and craft an email that sounds like you are a master of small talk.
Collaboration allows you to network with others naturally and make personal connections in your industry. This invaluable interaction is not only vital to health and happiness, but your freelance business depends on it.
Find Yourself a Cheerleader
I’ll say it. I like recognition for my hard work.
Most of the time it comes in the form of a paycheck because I don’t have a boss or co-workers to tell me how awesome I am. Sometimes I just need some affirming encouragement from someone who isn’t hiring me to write for them.
This is another reason it is essential to keep at least a few connections outside the comfort of your own home.
Find yourself a friend! Notice I did not say find an accountability buddy. I hate that term because it immediately stresses me out. It instantly makes me feel like I might fail and let someone down.
So instead of checking in with someone to tell them you’ve reached (or didn’t) a specific goal, find someone to only share your successes with.
Sometimes a pat on the back is all you need to get through the day.
You CAN Say No
Sometimes it’s hard for introverts to say no. Saying no does not make you a bad person. When you tell someone no, you are practicing self-care.
No is a harsh word, so here are some alternatives that you may be more comfortable with.
- I would love to, but I wouldn’t want to overcommit myself. I can refer you to a colleague…
- I’ll have to check my schedule (to buy yourself some time to think it over.)
- I’d be more comfortable with (revising these terms, talking about this next month, etc.)
- I’d love to, but I need to pass for now. (You don’t owe anyone an explanation. No is a complete sentence.)
The Dreaded PHONE CALL
So, you’re running a freelance business, and now you’re actually getting business.
But there is still one problem: the dreaded anxiety of interacting with others over the phone.
Whether you suffer from social anxiety or shyness, you can conquer your phone phobia.
- Practice holding and speaking on the phone. A little practice can help ease your worries.
- Make sure your phone is in good working order. That means you have excellent reception, and no background noise or distractions.
- Schedule the call for as soon as possible. This sounds scary, yes, but the sooner you make the call, the sooner you can get over the anticipation and be done with it. Also, you’ll see how hard you rock. You conquered your fear, and the next time will be so much easier.
- Be yourself! Faking a personality adds so much more pressure to an interaction.
- Once you establish a telephone relationship with a client, each subsequent phone call gets easier. It’s like talking to a friend.
Introverts and freelancing go together like cake and ice cream. It’s a perfect match. We get to stay at home, keep our batteries charged, and communicate when and with whom we want. But sometimes we have to make sacrifices to get a paycheck.
With so many talkers in the world, freelancing needs listeners, and that’s what we are.
Introversion is our superpower.