Finding Someone To Drag You to the Finish Line


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This past weekend, I traveled to Boston to see my father-in-law run in the marathon. It was my first marathon ever, and I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like watching a group of people run by.

My husband, my mother-in-law, and I set up shop about 100 yards from the finish line, right outside the Prudential Center and a block or two away from the library. We were lucky enough to get a spot right at the barrier, where I stood poised with my camera, waiting for our runner.

Next to us was a woman with…um…a loud mouth. I wasn’t sure if she was there to see anyone in particular, but she cheered on just about every runner who went past us, referring to the names on the fronts of their shirts.

“Yeah Jan! Whooo! Almost there! Yeah Pam and Steve! Whooo! Doing great!” Nonstop. It was a wonder she still had a voice.

Some of the people around us gave her dirty looks, but I just loved the way she broke through to those runners on the last leg of their journey, giving them the strength to make it those last 100 yards.  I was alost overcome by emotion every time one of them broke out of their running reverie and smiled, or gave her a thumbs up. It seemed to me that she was doing those marathoners a great service.

Sometimes, my work day feels like a marathon — one filled with endless blog posts, pitches, interviews, rewrites, edits, and the like — and I wish I had someone to drag me those last few yards to the end. This is where my own personal freelance support group comes in handy.

While freelancing may often seem like a solitary endeavor, it helps to have a community of supporters who will keep you on track, keep you motivated, share their knowledge with you and, above all, believe in you.

Where I Go For Support:

My Blog Readers:

If you’re blogging (and I know that many of you are), I would hope you’re not just blindly blogging into the abyss. A blog post is merely the start of a conversation, and it benefits both you and your readers if you continue to participate in that conversation in the comments section, on a forum, etc.  Make an effort to connect and interact with your readers, by asking them questions, featuring them within your posts, shooting them personal e-mails, etc.


I started out using Twitter as a marketing tool. I didn’t realize that it would turn into the ultimate networking tool. When I’m holed up in my condo with nobody (but my three cats) to talk to, my Twitter followers will listen to my laments about my dwindling coffee supply, help me find story sources, spread my blog posts and articles, and generally provide me with the next closest thing to human contact and conversation. As with your blog, make sure you’re not just broadcasting. Engage your followers, and you will build a support group to rival all others.


Several freelancers suggested I join UPOD, a Yahoo group for professional writers and editors. The members are a great resource when I have a question to ask or a source to track down. In return, I try to answer their questions as best I can, always in awe of the breadth of talent and experience in evidence around me. There are a ton of Google, Yahoo,  and MeetUp groups to search for, or you can join a professional organization, such as Freelance Success, National Writers Union, etc.

Friends and Family:

My parents have always been good enough to support every crazy endeavor I took it upon myself to achieve. When I was published in my very first glossy magazine — Playgirl — my mom made photocopies and handed them out to her friends. I am so lucky to have them. My husband likewise supports me (in more ways than one). As risk-averse as he is, he gave me the go-ahead to leave my staff job at a book publisher and do freelancing full-time. He is continued to believe in me ever since.

It’s tough to get the friends and fam on board when you make such a drastic change in your life, but damn does it help if you succeed. Be open to listening to their questions and concerns, and address them as best you can. Chances are, they’re only skeptical because they love you and worry about you. Put their worries to rest and you’ll have close supporters for life.

Related:  Using Twitter to Achieve World Domination (In Your Field), Build Your Own: Writing Group, How to Market Yourself: Getting Out More


  1. Hi Steph:

    I found you through the 31 Days BBB forum… great ideas there!

    Thanks for this great post on having a community of support. I’m keeping it for those days when I just-don’t-wanna-do-it-any-more, and when I know I’ll be grateful for all the support that I have.

    Thanks for the link,
    -Mavis Penney

  2. Great post! If you generalized the topic a bit (i.e. support for any endeavour, not just freelancing), it could make for a good pitch (imho).

    As an aside, I’ve done a few (much, much shorter) races and having strangers cheer me on was an amazing feeling, so kudos to that woman!

  3. Howdy Gal! I just saw your comment on day 5 of Problogger’s BBB and I was curious enough to come by. Nice blog here. 😉

    Happy Thursday!

    GHF a/k/a Farmer*sWife

  4. Excellent post, Steph. It’s so important to have those folks cheering us on. Glad you’ve got your own village behind you!

  5. Sunday says:

    I’m also over here from 31DBB and enjoyed your thoughts on support and using online media. The online world is exciting to me – we’re creating new forms, here! – but it’s taking me awhile to learn my way around.


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