Freelancing, at its core, is a business endeavor. Regardless of whether you’re a graphic designer, writer, or web developer, there are always those mundane yet crucial tasks that come with the territory, such as managing never-ending to-do lists or dealing with the headache of taxes. However, mastering these tasks is key to excelling in your freelance career.
This article serves as a guide, providing valuable tips to not only conquer those dull tasks but also transform them into engaging activities. You’ve already embraced the world of freelancing, gaining autonomy (and possibly a longer life), so allow these suggestions to further shield you from tedious and burdensome tasks. Let’s dive in!
1. To-do lists
To-do lists can be valuable tools for making our workdays more productive. They show us what we need to achieve daily, break tasks into manageable pieces, and give us a sense of accomplishment as we cross items off. However, in reality, to-do lists often just keep growing, making us feel overwhelmed and unproductive instead.
Constantly expanding to-do lists can lead to feelings of incompetence and result in procrastination. To make lists work in your favor, try limiting the number of tasks you include. At the beginning or end of each day, write down the five most critical tasks and resist the urge to add more items.
By crossing off just one item, you’ll feel more productive with only four tasks remaining. As you complete each task, your list will gradually shrink. Before you know it, you’ll have finished all the items on your list for the day, leaving you with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
For freelancers, deadlines are a crucial part of our work lives. Meeting deadlines is essential for maintaining client relationships, but the pressure of deadlines can also be a source of stress. Missing a deadline can take months to repair the trust with a client.
Of course, missing a deadline isn’t always disastrous if it’s handled properly and there’s a legitimate reason. However, repeatedly missing deadlines or making it a habit can make it difficult to retain clients.
A simple strategy to prevent missed deadlines is to give yourself a buffer of a few extra days. For example, if you can complete a project by Tuesday, inform your client that you’ll submit the work on Thursday instead. This little trick helps to account for procrastination and any unexpected issues (such as computer crashes or illnesses) that may arise.
Taxes are often the most disliked and feared task for freelancers. The thought of organizing receipts, bills, client payments, and expenses can be overwhelming. Not to mention the need to file 1099 forms and other paperwork.
Even the most organized freelancers can feel stressed by taxes, causing them to procrastinate and scramble to complete everything on time.
To make handling taxes more manageable, consider hiring a professional or using a business tax software. These options guide you through the process and calculate your taxes for you.
On the bright side, you can benefit from tax deductions, such as write-offs for purchasing stock photos.
In freelancing, simply being skilled and passionate about your work isn’t enough. Without clients, your talent goes unnoticed. To attract clients, freelancers need to actively market their services.
Fortunately, marketing doesn’t have to feel pushy or insincere. With social media, you can build your presence by connecting with others and offering help. Join platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and engage with individuals in your niche or potential clients.
Instead of explicitly promoting yourself, let your social media profile speak for your freelance business. Share your work strategically, assist others, and provide value. As you interact and showcase your expertise, your reputation will grow organically.
For example, I’ve found more work through Twitter in the past year than my own website, proving that effective marketing doesn’t have to be aggressive.
Staying in touch with both potential and existing clients is essential, but it can be time-consuming and not particularly enjoyable. You’d likely prefer to focus on your actual work, which is your strong suit. However, maintaining communication is crucial for securing more business opportunities. For instance, after completing a project for a client, a follow-up email could lead to additional work, a testimonial, or even a referral. With potential clients, it could result in a new contract.
The tricky part about following up is finding the right timing. If you reach out too soon, it may seem like you’re pressuring the person, which is not appreciated. If you wait too long, they might forget about you or even hire someone else.
To streamline the follow-up process, create a straightforward system. Determine what you think is the appropriate time to follow up and mark it in your calendar. Additionally, prepare two follow-up email templates – one for current clients and one for potential clients.
Each time you interact with a potential client or finish a project for an existing one, note the follow-up date in your calendar. When that day comes, use the corresponding template to send a follow-up email. This approach will make following up less daunting.
6. Cold calls
Cold calling can be intimidating for freelancers, as it involves reaching out to unfamiliar people who might not even be aware of who you are. This can cause some anxiety and make you feel like an unwelcome salesperson.
To make cold calling more approachable, try reframing it as an introduction rather than a sales pitch. For example, call a company, introduce yourself, and simply ask if they work with freelancers.
If they do, offer to send them your information. This approach is less intrusive and more conversational. If you still find cold calling uncomfortable, consider using email as an alternative. Research the companies you’d like to work with and identify the appropriate contact person. Then, send them a Letter of Introduction (LOI) with all the necessary details.
By adjusting your mindset or opting for a different method, you can make this essential task more manageable and less daunting.
Ultimately, it’s crucial to put forth your best effort as a freelancer. Remember that you chose this path because of your skills and self-discipline. By adopting a positive mindset and applying the tips shared above, you’ll be well on your way to a successful freelancing career.
Are there any other tedious but essential freelancing tasks you’ve encountered? If you could avoid one task forever, which would it be?