With the popularity of social media and blogging, it’s never been a better time to be self-employed. Having your own business or being a freelancer gives you the freedom and flexibility to do what you love without being tied down to a traditional 9-to-5 job. That being said many of us work more 9am-to-2am, but when you love what you’re doing – the time flies by, and it doesn’t quite seem like work. But there is something special that freelancing and having your own gig requires… hustle. Lots of hustle.
You’ve got to not only do all the work, but you’ve also got to manage it – and continually be pitching yourself for more projects. So what’s the secret to “doing it all”. I’ve put together a couple of my own tips on how to help you find freelance success and manage your own workload more efficiently – whether you run your blog or your own small business – or in my case both!
5 Tips to Finding Freelance Success
Step one, and probably the most important step, you need to be organized. My office is anything but at the moment, but once a week, I sat aside time to clean my office, put papers where they need to go, shred what needs shredding, and throw out what I no longer need. It’s easy to get distracted or feel overwhelmed when you have a pile of papers, press kits, mail, or whatever it may be on your desk – and while it may be challenging to keep it clear of chaos – try to keep your desk and your office space organized. The peace-of-mind created from not seeing cluttered is a rather easy way to destress yourself – but also ensure that you’ll stay focused on the task at hand.
If it’s not realistic for you to keep your desk clean (believe me I understand) – try to set aside time to regularly clean and challenge yourself each time to not create as much clutter as you have previously. You can do it. Believe in yourself, take a deep breath, and keep yourself organized.
Have A Schedule
Having a schedule and to-do lists are one of the most efficient ways to make sure you get everything done. Making a mental note for later, or jotting something down on a loose piece of paper you’re sure to lose – is one way to ensure that you forget whatever you’re trying to remember to do. Everyday I look at my planner to see what I have scheduled for myself to accomplish that day, and then I make a separate list prioritizing everything that has to get done from my planner and also from my inbox. The organization (and the ultimate satisfaction of marketing things) of that list is the only way I get everything done in a day that needs to be done, and if I happen to not get to a few elements at the bottom of my list – they go at the top of my list the following day.
Spend Time on Social Media
Ever find yourself feeling drained of inspiration? Perhaps it’s just a designer thing, but I tend to think that looking at well-designed things (whether it be graphics, websites, clothes, etc…) helps to spur creativity in us. And perhaps its not design related, maybe you need to create some content – whether it’s marketing material, a blog post, a social media post, etc… and you need a little inspiration. Heading over to Pinterest and indulging in recharging your creative juices is always a good way to refresh yourself. Don’t have time for Pinterest? Even grabbing a coffee and hoping on Twitter or Instagram for a few is a good way to engage with clients/customers while creating valuable dialogue and giving your mind a bit of break from the routine.
Know What You’re Worth
One of the biggest challenges with being a freelancer is knowing how much to charge for your services. What is your rate? Do you charge by project or by hour? Do you offer discounts? Know all of these elements before talking to a client, and if a client puts you on the spot in the moment for a quote, don’t be afraid to tell them that you want to do a little research and review all the project requirements – and that you’ll have a quote to them by the end of the day or first thing in the morning. Take your time to research how long a project is going to take you to accomplish (and make sure you limit revisions on a final project delivery).
When figuring out what you’re going to charge, keep in mind that 15% to 30% of your income is going to go to paying your taxes – be sure to allow for this in what you’re charging – and be sure you set it back so that you have it handy when tax season rolls around.
Take A Break
At the end of the year, I always try to give myself a two week break. It’s never been two weeks, but by setting that goal for myself – I usually manage to get about 4 days. I also try to stay away from my email and the computer on weekends – unless I have something I have to do and it can’t wait until Monday – or I’m working on a personal project (which is also a great way to take a break and re-inspire yourself).
When I have work trips, I’ll try to take off in the evenings in order to have time to myself or tag on a couple extra days to explore the city. Having a break from the routine will not only give you something to look forward to – but it helps you clear your mind, so you can return to your work refreshed and energized. Your work will be better – and your clients and customers will be happier!
Are you a freelancer? What are your secrets to success? What lessons did you learn in the beginning that you can share with those that are just starting out freelancing? We’d love to hear from you in our comment section below!
Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.
Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site FanBolt.com