Working from home, and working for yourself, can largely be an isolating experience. Isolation became even more pronounced during the pandemic when our lives were forever altered. Even though I have been mostly working for myself for more than a decade, I can get in a rut. I felt that most acutely in January when the days were cold and grey. Thankfully my constant companions (our 2 dogs) mandate daily walks so that forces me out of the house, even if I didn’t feel like braving the Buffalo weather.
I have had to make a conscious effort to engage in community. Making connections with others helps my mental state and ultimately, helps my business. Ideas aren’t born from a vacuum, so getting out of the house, being in different environments and definitely meeting others — in person — is irreplaceable.
Nowadays many meetings are still held via zoom, and while that certainly is convenient (we save gas, money and time) nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting. I’ve made more of an effort the past few weeks to meet in person with clients, and to get together with friends.
Developing your community online is also important. I have recently reconnected via zoom to two other artists who are at the same stage of their career. We are all in different states but connected online a few years ago through a membership group. Although we have messaged one another throughout the last few years, we just started up with zoom calls again. Turning the video on and making eye contact through the camera connects us more than just messaging, as so much communication gets lost or misinterpreted through a text message.
I joined 2 membership groups in 2022. Both have live components and other ways to connect with others online. I’ll delve into each group in more detail in future posts, but both are invaluable for community connections. When you work from home, you don’t have co-workers to go to lunch with or grab a coffee with. Anytime these memberships have any programming in real time I love to join in, and try to participate as much as possible.
I mentioned in a recent post about my Minted buddy group. I was so fortunate to be placed in a group with these artists. There are seven of us total. All of these women have more experience than me in stationery design but they never make me feel out of place. We chat via zoom once a month and I make sure to really plan my schedule around this time. I don’t want to miss it! The hour flies by.
Finally, social media becomes another way of connecting. I try to be diligent with my social media time and connect directly to others via DM, or by commenting on content that resonates with me, rather than just scrolling by. Social can be detrimental if you are in the wrong frame of mind or start down the comparison road. However, if used purposefully, it is another way to build community.
How about you — have you struggled with building community? Do you have any suggestions on ways to build your community? Drop me a comment below.
Yes I am now struggling to build community. I left teaching in Fall 2021 and miss the people but not the job. Many of my close friends/relatives have moved far away so I am having trouble figuring this all out in these times. Thanks for this blog post! I really enjoyed it. I do still chat with 2 artists from Immersion 2021 and we give each other feedback on our art and support if we ask.
hi Caroline, yes! It can definitely be a challenge, especially in our line of work. My 2 kids are also in college as of the fall so that is another transition. I too took Immersion in 2021 but our group never stayed in touch. I am glad you can still reach out to those folks. MCM is a great community, see you there and thanks for commenting!
Great post. I have been working from home more than usual over the past six months with a new baby in the house. I find that I have to make a conscious effort to get out and meet people in person rather than just on zoom meetings for business as you pointed out. I find face to face networking events to be helpful in this area. These events get me out of the house and around other business professionals so I don’t just end up humming children songs between business calls all day.
hi Patrick! Yes, working from home can be isolating and especially with a newborn too when you might not be sleeping regularly too. I agree, we need to make it a point to get out and see one another face to face. Our cold weather also makes it tough, but spring is coming. Hope to see you soon 🙂