The life of a freelancer sounds ideal. You work when you want, doing what you want, how you want. However, the reality of a freelance life is very different. There is either too much or not enough work. Along with delivering service, you have to market and take care of business duties. Trying to manage it all is a juggling act unless you plan. Here are three strategies for managing a successful freelance career.
Schedule time for work and marketing everyday
Flexibility is a perk to the freelance life, but that doesn’t mean you can work a few hours a day and expect to earn a full-time income. Successful freelancers treat their careers as a job, scheduling time everyday to work. As a freelancer, your work is two-fold; delivering service to clients and marketing. Your schedule should include the hours you plan to work, but also tasks you want to accomplish each day. For example, you might spend the morning completing projects for clients and the afternoon or an hour in the evening on marketing tasks such as social networking. Even when you have a full-schedule of clients, don’t neglect personal promotion. There is an ebb and flow in freelancing. By staying connected to your market, you can fill in the gaps when your business starts to ebb.
Use systems and tools
You make the most money delivering service to your clients. Everything else, while important, is secondary to providing billable work. As much as possible, streamline your business tasks by limiting the amount of time they take. You can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule and manage social media. Use online time trackers and timers to monitor time used for each client, as well as to keep you on schedule. Hire help, such as a virtual assistant to manage your website or marketing tasks. If it’s possible to use a tool to automate or hire someone to delegate, do it so you can focus on what you do best, delivering service.
Telecommuting studies indicate that home-base workers get more done in less time than their onsite counterparts. However, distractions are very real in the work-at-home environment. Kids, pets, chores, nosy neighbors and telemarketers can interrupt the flow of work. Even work-related tasks such as social networking or researching for a project, can be a time suck. While schedules can help, you also need tricks to avoid being interrupted and drawn away from work. Ideas include setting a time limit for social media, scheduling email once or twice a day, letting voicemail pick up the phone, and closing the door to your office as a signal to your family that you’re working.
Working for yourself offers the ability to control many aspects of your career. But to be successful, you need to manage time, focusing on tasks that generate income, and setting boundaries around duties and interruptions that can slow you down.