I’ve written before about being a loud and proud introvert. Actually, make that quiet and proud. 😉 After years of feeling slightly strange, self-conscious, and often completely overwhelmed in loud, social settings, I learnt a little about introversion and finally understood a core truth about my make-up. Hey, I realised, this makes sense and I’m okay after all! In fact, my introversion gives me some pretty useful superpowers like self-awareness, self-sufficiency, formidable focus, and unconventional thinking. Perhaps you relate?

Being a high-level introvert, it’s not surprising that one of my favourite aspects of my copywriting business is that I get to work completely solo. Sure, I have a fabulous network of marketing consultants, designers, other freelancers, even fellow copywriters (I consider them friends rather than competitors) who provide bucketloads of inspiration and camaraderie. But, when push comes to shove, my copywriting business is all me. I do the writing, the marketing, the selling, the bookkeeping – in fact, I love getting my fingers dirty in all the nooks and crannies of my business.

Despite a definite trend towards freelancing, I’d say working alone in this way – especially working alone from home – is still rather taboo. In 2017, it’s cool to be social, to collaborate, to mastermind, and to expand your network however possible (1000+ friends on facebook, anyone?). In corporate workplaces, there’s a huge emphasis on team building, and after-hours socialising is an unspoken, but very real, requirement. Heaven forbid you let the team down by going home on time!

Not surprisingly, I always resolutely bucked this expectation. Not out of any great rebelliousness, mind you, but simply because I was exhausted. Nine hours a day in a team environment (managing the team, no less) was more than enough for me. Secondly, I was never the kind of person who worked to make friends, preferring instead to keep my work and personal lives separate for the sake of professionalism, and recognising my own small group of friends was already more than enough to keep up with!

It’s not surprising therefore that I find myself now running my own business, doing my own thing, completely on my own. I have no doubt this move was met by much head scratching from past colleagues. Why let go of those hard-earned management skills and do the complete opposite, when I could be managing an even bigger team, working for an even bigger business, in an even busier CBD office? I also suspect my extroverted family and friends think I’m positively mad for working solo from home like some kind of crazy, yoga-panted hermit. Yes, I do frequently visit the fridge and hold solo dance parties during my lunch break. It is fabulous!

In all seriousness though, this kind of expectation, this pressure to conform to the typical career progression up the management ladder into progressively larger organisations with more people and more pressure, is REAL. Make no mistake. I felt it very much when I left my corporate job, and was pondering what move to make next.

If climbing the corporate ladder floats your boat, awesome. But, if your heart’s desire is to work solo, I’m here to tell you, that’s a-okay too. You’re not weird, defective, or even anti-social. And you’re definitely not alone.

I asked some copywriter pals (who also love working solo) for their thoughts:

“I’m a copywriter who loves socialising, networking and having client meetings face-to-face. But I’m also an introvert. The best working environment for me is in my home office with my dog under the desk. My creative juices flow and I get laser focused on writing copy to attract my client’s target audience and quickly show their readers why they’re the better choice. But just because I’m working solo, doesn’t mean that I’m ‘lonely’ 🙂 Through the power of social media and the connections I’ve made face-to-face I’ve got a ‘secret posse’ of friends and colleagues. We support each other with phone calls, catch-ups, text messages and when we love referring work to each other. Working solo has been the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Kylie Saunder

“I often get asked if I miss the social interaction that working in an office entails. To be honest, I don’t. While working with others does offer some level of social interaction, most of that (in my experience) has involved office politics and gossip – something I’m just not into. That kind of interaction is very negative and distracting. I love having the freedom to work on my own business, with my own timelines, without office politics getting in the way of the actual work that needs to be done. And as for socialising…isn’t that what friends are for?”

Nerissa Bentley, Write to the Point Communications

“I don’t feel weird working solo until I go into a city office or shared working space – then I do feel like a bit like a caged animal that’s been set free. I start thinking I’d love to be back in the office. But I think of the politics and commute and it doesn’t last long. I like the autonomy and control I have working by myself – the responsibility is great, but so is the reward. I can march to the beat of my own drum (cranking up the music loud); on my own terms (early/late to suit my kids/hobbies/TV preferences); and in my comfort zone (read that as clothes, comfort clothes).”

Lisa Cropman, The Word Nest

Working solo has allowed me to be the real me. No more pretending to be a corporate beast, no more suits, no more office politics, no more commute. I love the freedom to do my own thing, make mistakes, create new ideas. But truly I don’t work solo. I have a band of merry copywriters at my side, a team of virtual helpers to call on when I need them, and a bundle of social groups as my virtual water cooler.”

Kate Toon Copywriter

I relate so much to all of the above. Since starting my copywriting biz and working solo, I’ve completely transformed my professional life – taking my career to an entirely new level of autonomy and creativity that I never could have achieved on the corporate managerial ladder. Most of all, I love:

  • Being my own boss – I’m disciplined but fair, and definitely not averse to taking Fridays off 😉
  • Being myself
  • Having complete control of my professional development
  • Saying yes or no to projects as I desire
  • Doing the fun, creative work myself, rather than managing others while they do it
  • Working to my own schedule and style
  • …Wherever I like
  • …In yoga pants
  • …In complete peace and quiet!
  • No commute
  • Not having to juggle colleagues’ emotional stuff or the dreaded office politics
  • Keeping my work and personal lives entirely separate, and reserving my energy for socialising on my terms

For now and for the foreseeable future, my business is all about me, myself, and I – and, of course, being the best I can be in order to serve my wonderful clients. For me, that means prioritising myself, my life, and my energy levels by working solo. So, yes, there’s no ‘I’ in team – and that’s precisely why I’m happily a one-woman show. I may be alone, but I’m definitely not lonely – in fact, I’m the happiest (and most productive!) I’ve ever been.


So, over to you. Are you a fellow solo worker? Why do you love it?  

2 Responses to There’s no ‘I’ in team: why it’s a-okay to love working on your own

  1. Sally, this is such a lovely post, thank you – the way your describe yourself in the first paragraph could be me!
    I have dabbled in solo work for years on and off, and have spent the past 5+ years working ‘for myself’ as a contractor to a large company – which means a few days a week going into other peoples’ work environments. I enjoy the social and professional interaction I get from this (mostly!), but I’m always so glad to return to my own little desk and office space at the end of the day.
    2 kids in, I’ve decided total work autonomy is my future and I’ve begun taking on freelance copywriting clients and building a dedicated website with the mission to give up my part time job and create a more flexible working life for the benefit of my little ones. The fear of going completely solo is huge, but the calm I feel deep down in my bones that this is the way things are meant to be is an even bigger force, one which gives me total conviction I’m doing the right thing.
    I look forward to going back through and reading some of your earlier posts after stumbling onto your site in my Google copywriters’ research. 🙂

    • Emily, thanks so much for reading and commenting! Sounds like we’re kindred spirits. I remember that mix of fear and calm so well, but I’m so glad I put the fear aside, trusted my gut, and took the leap. It sounds like you’re on the right track towards a better working life for yourself and your kids. All the best, and let’s stay in touch! xx

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