Being a freelancer is not just working at home with your computer (or Handshakin HQ Coworking) for a few hours a day. There is a lot more that you have to do in order to make your business successful.
Here are my top tips to build a thriving freelancer business.
Have a daily schedule and stick to it!
Though most freelancers like to say that they got into the field to be able to work around their family’s schedule, you still need a schedule. If you wait for a few minutes to find time to work, you never will. Instead, decide when you are going to work and for how long. Use Google Calendar, obviously.
If you have a set time to start and stop, you are more likely to show up and actually work. You will be more focused because you will know when to focus on your business and when you can relax and enjoy your family.
In fact, usually my most productive time is right before I've got to go in 10 minutes. And I get a lot done in 10 minutes
Start your day by looking at your to-do list.
Many people find that they work harder if they write their to-do list every night. That way, they already know what to do when they come in. However, you may do better if you start your morning planning your day.
Every week, you should go through your lists and figure out what you got accomplished and what needs to be a priority for the next week. You don’t want anything important to fall through the cracks and, by checking weekly, you are less likely to miss something.
I'm guilty of it, too, but every time I pause and reevaluate the whole month, that is when I make powerful progress and find powerful insights into my company.
Start with the hardest tasks.
You should always start with your biggest and hardest tasks. Otherwise, you will wait and wait. Before you know it, it will be too late. You will have to rush through them or complete them halfheartedly. This can really ruin your business.
Instead, do them first so, when you are tired in the afternoon, you can focus on smaller and easier tasks.
It can also be great for your momentum when you get something really big done. You will be more motivated to keep going!
Make sure to write down you big to-do each day! I like to use the Momentum, a Google Chrome add on that reminds me of that task each time I open a new tab!
Do similar items together.
Tony Robbins, the king of productivity, recommends grouping similar tasks together. He calls this “chunking.” You will get more done if you do all of your social media posts at once, then write all your blogs. (PS -- Check out this blog writing service)
You can then finish up by editing videos or one of the many other tasks your freelancing business includes. Your brain is ready and focused on the task at hand, making your day go much smoother.
Organize your email.
Though most people like to ignore their e-mail, you can’t do this as a freelancer. You will get many e-mails from customers and even potential ones. It is really important to reply to all of these e-mails quickly and promptly so that you don’t miss a sale.
I highly recommend Boomerang, where I can have emails bounce back if leads don't respond, or I can have it bounce back if one of our contractors doesn't respond within 4 days :P
Keep track of your finances.
As a business owner, you need to keep track of your money. You need to monitor your customers to ensure that you are getting paid. You also need to set some aside for taxes, as well as pay all of your bills.
You should watch your expenses carefully so you are not wasting money. Maybe once every 3 months, I'll go through and make sure we cancel any unused or low value subscriptions.
As a freelancer, you also need to save money for the slow times and for buying retirement assets like real estate. You are not always going to have steady work and you need to account for that too!
Know what your expected income is for the next month.
Not only should you know how well your business is but you want to have projects already lined up for the next month. If not, you may need to increase your marketing campaign to get a few new customers.
After all, every time that we have raised our prices has been when there's more demand than we have time to fulfill. But often times that can be generated with a creative campaign.
If you don’t know what projects you have lined up, you may take on too much work (#beenthere). You may rush through projects, just to get them done in time. There may be times when you will have to turn away work (though hopefully you can complete them during your next slow time.) You may also realize that you have nothing else lined up and you need to find a few new customers.
Either way, zoom out and take a look at the big picture: how much did you make last month, this month, and what do you expect next month.
Save, save, save.
Freelancing can be a great career. However, it often comes and goes. Your income is not always consistent and is far from guaranteed. There are going to be weeks when you are so busy that you don’t have time to do anything else. This can be followed by weeks without any work.
For this reason, you should always set aside money for your slow periods. This allows you to keep paying your bills, even though you don’t have any work. It is also necessary for financial independence. You can pick and choose the right projects for you – unless you are desperate for money.
Oh, plus how are you ever going to afford that more expensive apartment or your downpayment for your first house.
Freelancing is great, though you need to be smart to make it work. You need to work hard and save your money. You should always work on a schedule – you will get more done. It also helps to review your to-do list every morning before you get started. You need to tackle your hard projects first or you will keep putting them off.
With some hard work and money control, you can have a thriving freelance business. Contact us to help you find more leads by growing your personal brand.