Staying focused and completing projects on time is critical when working alone, so you’ll need to develop good time management skills. Maintaining your workload from existing customers while also securing new work to keep the income steady can be just as important.
After working closely with freelancers from a wide variety of disciplines, I’ve noticed that sticking to the following six freelancing tips tends to set the successful freelancers apart from the pack.
1. Establish set work hours
You may be working for yourself but it’s more important than ever to maintain a set schedule. While the hours you choose to work are completely up to you, defining them provides a much-needed routine to keep you focused and allows your clients to know when they can reach you. Maintaining a fixed work schedule is simply a way of creating a good, consistent work habit.
2. Have a dedicated workspace
Having an office doesn’t mean you have to pay rent for a professional space. In fact, most freelancers enjoy the benefits of working from home and being close to family. The key to staying focused when working from home is having the right workspace. It should allow for plenty of privacy, be in a quiet area that allows you to concentrate, provide plenty of room to work in, and include necessities such as a phone, fax, computer, desk and file storage. Do whatever necessary to set your home office up efficiently – anything less will hinder your productivity.
3. Finalise your fee structure
It may seem obvious, yet many freelance consultants neglect to establish a written fee structure for their services. Ideally, create a firm price list for your services that you can give to prospective clients or refer to when submitting a proposal for work. The most common pricing method is a fixed, hourly rate, but you may also want to set a flat fee for certain services or projects.
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4. Polish your portfolio
Depending on the type of work you do, it is recommended that you create a professional portfolio of your work. Whether you’re a copywriter, graphic artist, virtual assistant or web designer, assemble the best examples of your previous work in a nice binder, portfolio book or web page. This allows you to have work samples readily available and neatly organised to show prospective clients. Not only does it enhance your credibility, it’s a good way to showcase the range of your capabilities and organisational skills. You may also want to include short customer testimonials along with the work samples for an added boost of credibility.
5. Always carry professional business cards
How many times have you met someone you may want to do business with, gone to exchange contact details and realised that neither of you have a business card? Scribbling contact information on a scrap of paper is not the best approach for marketing yourself as a successful freelance consultant. Keeping a simple business card with basic information on-hand at all times remains the best method for trading contact information, and also shows that you’re a legitimate professional.
6. Join an online community
Engaging with other freelancers and business owners in online communities, social media networks, blogs and forums means businesses can easily find you when they’re looking for help with new projects. This is an ideal way to market yourself and your skills to prospective clients without having to spend large amounts of time or money on advertising.
These are my six favourite freelancing tips, but I bet between us we can come up with plenty more. Care to add any to the list?