So you decided to go with the freelancer route, huh? Well, we’re going to tell you right away that it’s not gonna be easy – but it’s incredibly rewarding. You will have the complete and utter control of your time, your work, your projects. As a freelancer you are your own boss, so you’ll need to love and hate every moment of it.
No matter what industry you are in, the challenges freelancers face are always the same and mostly centre around two things: avoiding procrastination, and finding work. That’s where we come in. Below, you’ll find a list of useful tips that can help you get some extra projects and advice on how to actually complete them efficiently.
1: Make a schedule and stick to it
The first thing you should do – no matter if your problem is getting work or actually getting the work done – is to make a schedule. Set a specific time when you go to bed and when you wake up. Imagine you have a regular 9-to-5 office job (which clearly is horrible, we know) and if you don’t get up on time, you’ll be late for work. Well, same thing here.
Waking up at the same time (it doesn’t really matter exactly when) every day will make you incredibly more productive. Furthermore, schedule break times in advance as well. Set up meetings and interviews, and use an app or a written calendar to keep track.
2: Never stop learning and improving
If you want to get continual work in your field when working alone, you need to present yourself properly. Always work on your skills, and get all the newest, up-to-date certifications you can. Work hard, and always try to get your CV just that extra bit nicer – that extra bit better.
And don’t worry guys, even if you’re social skills are not the best like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory there is still hope for you to land that deal. Just work on your social skills every day, for a little while; try to get out after you’re done with work. You really don’t want to spend the day having the only face you see be your own, on your computer screen.
Learn how to dress and present yourself. If needed, working on your career means you set up a website. Get business cards, get out there and mingle.
3: Minimise distractions
When working, you should do every single thing you can to minimise or mitigate all the distractions you may face. This means no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter during your set working hours. Keep the TV off, and maybe play some music that has no vocals (or vocals in a language you don’t understand).
Try out the Pomodoro technique. You just work for 25 minutes, then rest for 5, then get back to 25. By using a timer, or an app on your phone, you will, over time, train yourself to just jump to work once you hear that Pomodoro sound.
Also, try to work somewhere peaceful. Find out what peaceful actually means to you, though. Some find it very easy to work in a crowded café – all that chatter actually works as a sound blocker. Others need complete and total silence. It’s up to you to figure this one out.
4: Learn how to get motivated
A big problem for any freelancer is how to nurture their motivation. Sure, at first, all that freedom just gives more wind into your sails. But over time, it gets hard to actually push yourself to work. You start getting up later and later, you start sleeping in, losing focus… On the other hand, you also need the motivation to search for projects and for more work. Sending offers, CVs, proposals, emails, going to face-to-face interviews… Rejection is inevitable, and you need to learn how to push yourself again, and again, and again.
You do this by making continual reminders on why you are doing what you do. Write down your goals, write down the things you would lose if you went back to regular employment. Set very clear and achievable goals for yourself, every day. We can continue listing out these examples, but at the end of the day, motivation falls only onto you and your choices. Make them count.
5: Organisation is key
You need to be organised, you always need to be on the ball. You must never forget to call a potential client, or God forbid missing a meeting. Since at first freelancers usually take all the work they can get, they end up with weeks of a small project here and there, and then, weeks of 13-hour multitasking workdays. Having a good system, like an Excel spreadsheet, or a Google Calendar, can really save your bacon.
6: Create your own desktop
This one is all about you setting a place just for work. This can be in your own home, your garage, or even a café or a bar that you like to go to. As long as it’s a space where you can work every day, at almost any time, you’re golden. This isn’t just for convenience sake – it has a psychological basis. When you go to your “office” you will instantly go to work mode, making it much easier to focus on your bad days.
7: Cover all your bases
One of the very few advantages of working a regular job is the fact that you get benefits. As a freelancer, instead, you will need to pay for your own pension and medical plan. Get dental insurance as well, and keep a little rainy-day-nest-egg, just in case. If your line of work means you can actually get hurt at a workplace, keep the number of a certified personal injury lawyer always nearby, at all times.