15 Tips for a Successful Freelance Career - Part 3
Okay, so you’re no rookie, I understand that. You’ve been freelancing for some time now, implementing all the conversion tactics and you’re a hoarder of email series. I get you - I probably am you.
But there are things I am still learning, because it’s a journey, remember. And sometimes it’s difficult to step back and be objective about what you’re doing and how to improve. Well, I’ve had the luxury (annoyance) of being told some of these by Richard and the other’s I’ve had to search pretty hard to discover, so today I’m sharing tips you should be considering being a not-so-new freelancer.
11 | Invest your time wisely, while you have it
You’re probably a little quiet for the first few months and working hard to make sure it picks up. And it will, if you’re using your time wisely. Here are a few things you should consider doing before you’re booked out months in advance:
- Create all your stationery - invoices, proposal documents, workbooks. Don’t rush to get these done as you need them as that can disrupt your schedule by adding hidden hours to a project.
- Create a social media schedule. Research what times get the most engagement in your industry and environment and set up a weekly schedule for each of your favourite platforms.
- Create a marketing strategy to propel you into your busy season.
- Do a bulk shoot and edit of photos you can use on Instagram, peppered with your business/real life images.
12 | Stop delaying and overcomplicating
A hard lesson that I am still learning is finished is better than perfect. This stems back to my university days and can be a serious stumbling block in my productivity and output. Putting projects on hold because you haven’t configured every small detail and making every step more convoluted than it need be is a waste of your time. And in your business isn’t time money? Mine is, and using that time to obsess over details that aren’t important (yet) means I am losing out on money. You may have the best processes, details and systems in place. You could have a killer new project that you’ll launch (in 6 months, when it’s perfected). None of that matters if you’re not turning a profit.
13 | Stop undercharging for your services
I believe that you, like me, work in your area of expertise because you’re an expert. You know what you’re doing; you studied hard or taught yourself. You’ve worked for free to gain experience or build a portfolio. And, after a few jobs, you’ve started working for yourself but you’re afraid to price your services.
Finance is an awkward conversation to have, especially with a client who thinks you’re too expensive considering “you work for yourself, you know”. But there is a flipside to this coin, and the truth is if you’re undercharging for your services, you don’t look like an expert. You look like you need the experience a client can offer. I’ve learnt the hard way, going into a project with the client believing they’re doing you a favour by giving you work is dangerous. It’s messy, involves way too many revisions, a constantly changing brief and a client who doesn’t see the value in your work. Price yourself competitively, moderately and with steady increases. Don’t make yourself unaffordable but don’t make yourself work for pennies either. Find a balance that makes you happy, attracts the right clients and ensures you’re not eating 2 Minute Noodles for lunch and dinner.
14 | Stop letting your business get in the way of your work
I was so defensive when Richard said this to me. Did he think I wasn’t working or pitching to clients? No, and I don’t think you are either. But I am all too aware of the pitfalls of these time-sucks which aren’t bringing you clients:
- black hole researching (endless blog-reading and inspiration-seeking)
- just a quick update on *your favourite social media*
- reinventing your process with each project
- endless website tweaking
If you analyse how much time you spend doing these small tasks you may be surprised to learn they comprise more than half of your working day. I realised that I was fussing too much about my business and the small details that it took precedence over client work and marketing myself to new clients. Ergo, don’t let your business overrule your work.
15 | Create a schedule
So you’ve been doing this for a few weeks or months, and you have an idea of what your day-to-day consists of. Now sit down, write out a schedule and stick to it. By creating a weekly or daily routine, you’re liberating yourself from scatter-brained, time-wasting unproductiveness.
Realistically evaluate how much time each element of your business (and life) takes you and create a weekly overview. Set reminders with your calendar app or the kitchen timer and when time’s up, move on to the next task. Be honest and strict with yourself and keep editing until you have something perfect for you.
Now it’s your turn! How have you made your freelance career successful? What have been the most useful tips you’ve been offered and how have they made a difference in your freelance business?
Missed the other posts in this series?