Find people to talk to.

Freelancing is lonely business. It is very easy to muck your head up overthinking. You’re probably already doing it.

So, get yourself people to talk to. I read somewhere about a personal ‘board of directors’ — a group of people with diverse backgrounds to advice whenever you need. If you don’t like the ‘board of directors’ analogy, call it whatever else you want. But have a bunch of people to call when things don’t feel right.

Here are a bunch of people I have:

  • Therapist: I’m prone to anxiety and depression. If I sense a pattern, I call.

  • Spouse: He’s the one who gives it to me, no nonsense. The one to ask the tough questions. For an outsider point of view — he’s neither a writer, not a freelancer.

  • Entrepreneurship mentor: One who has seen the ups and downs of building a business. Unless someone has actually run a business, they couldn’t be giving practical and meaningful business advice.

  • Writing mentors: People willing to read your milestone projects and give honest feedback. If you’re a designer, developer, photographer etc., find a mentor in your own line of work.

  • Counterparts: Just to crib and not be advised. You know, for when you need to just down beer and share horror stories.

Now, you might be scoffing at the idea of finding, staying in touch, asking for help, and actually contacting them when needed. Totes legit!

Whenever I felt this way, I only had one response: It’s harder to do this alone forever than ask for help now. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised time and again by the kindness around me.

I’ll write in a later post about finding mentors in particular, but some general considerations while seeking help:

  • Appreciate that they are busy and they might not have the time for this. Tell them that you’re okay with that (ensure you’re not guilt-tripping them).

  • State what you want simply and clearly.

  • If it’s an answer to a specific question, demonstrate that you’ve done the work you could have, independently, to find the answer. Also good to mention why you’re asking them. “I’ve tried Google, Twitter etc., I’m unable to find this editor’s email ID, would you mind sharing, please? I’d like to send a pitch to her.”

  • Be polite, you’re not entitled to an answer.

  • Feel free to follow up once, but no more. And don’t you dare send a message with “??”. Be polite and respectful. If they’re not responding, let them be.

  • When they respond, whether it’s helpful or not, say thanks. And ask follow up questions as appropriate.

  • When you use their help and find success, write to them and thank them again. “My story in that publication just got published. I wanted to say thanks again.”

  • Stay in touch. Don’t stay silent for a year until you need another editor’s email ID. But, don’t send mass Good Mornings, New Years’ and Diwali greetings either. Once in a while, say, “I saw something and thought of you today, hope everything’s well” or “I’m still writing for that publication that you connected me to. I thought you might like my latest.” or something like that which is personal to the relationship you have with them.

Good luck finding your people!

P.S: If there is anything I can help with, feel free to write to