The thing with freelancing is that it’s a business. You may be a graphic designer, writer, or web developer by profession but since you’re doing business, there are always some boring but essential tasks, you know, like organizing overwhelming to-do lists or filing disgusting taxes. Nonetheless, these tasks are so important that you must do them well in order to succeed in your business.
This article exists as a guide to offer helpful tips to not only tackle those boring tasks but also make them feel very interesting to you. You’ve earned absolute freedom (and perhaps longer life) by entering the realm of freelancing, so let these tips save you further from boring and suffering tasks, let’s do it!
1. To-do lists
To-do lists are instrumental in making our work days productive. They tell us what we need to accomplish in a day, help us divide our tasks into manageable chunks and makes us feel productive as we cross items off it. That is, of course, the best-case scenario. What really happens with to-do lists is that they just keep on growing. When was the last time you managed to tick off every single item on your to-do list?
(Image source: Purpleslog)
Ever growing to-do lists overwhelm us and make us feel incompetent and unproductive. The more items added to the list, the more panic we are. Instead of steadily working through the tasks on the list, we end up procrastinating.
To have lists work for you, try limiting the number of things you put on them. At the end or the start of the day, list down the five most important things you need to do and don’t add any more items no matter how tempted you are.
All it will take to feel productive is to cross off one item. Suddenly you have 4 tasks to do instead of 5. Get one more done and you’re down to 3. Before you know it, all the items on your list have been crossed off and you’re done for the day! How’s that for making you feel productive?
As freelancers, we live (and die) by deadlines. We know that a missed deadline has the power to make or break a client relationship. So yes, deadlines keep us in business but that’s what makes us hate them too. One missed deadlines and you might end up spending months to repair your relationship with a client.
Granted, a missed deadline isn’t the end of the world if you handle it right and if you miss it for a valid reason. But make it a habit or do it more than once and you’ll be struggling to retain clients.
A simple trick to avoid missing deadlines is to always give yourself a couple of extra days. Let’s say you can submit a project by Tuesday, but instead of committing to Tuesday, you tell your client you’ll submit the work on Thursday. This little trick takes care of all your procrastination problems and any freelancing calamity (computer crash, cold & flu etc) that might befall you.
Doing your own taxes is the most hated and dreaded task for freelancers. The entire idea of saving your receipts, bills, payments from clients, expenses etc is enough to give one a headache. Then there’s the filing of 1099’s and all the other paperwork.
Even if you’re the king or queen of organization, taxes have a way of making you doubt your system. You end up putting it off till the very last minute and then have to rush to get your papers in order.
Here’s what you can do to help to do your taxes easier: hire someone to do it for you. If you don’t want to do that, your best bet is using a tax program made for business that will walk you through each step and even calculate your taxes for you.
The silver lining to doing your taxes is the tax write-offs. Did you know that you can get a write-off for buying stock photos?
In freelancing, being passionate about your work or being good at what you do isn’t enough. What’s good about your talent if you don’t have clients? And you can’t get clients unless you market your business. Freelancers have to be their own cheerleading squad if they hope to find work.
The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to be sleazy. In today’s age of social media all you have to do is be present and help people. Sign up for Twitter and Facebook. Befriend people in your niche or the clients you’d like to work with and then interact with them. You won’t have to tell them you’re a freelancer, your social media profile will do it.
Strategically talk about your work on these channels and help out as many people as you can and provide value. Showcase your work through them and just interact. Word will soon get out about what you do and how awesome you are.
Don’t believe me? For the past year, I’ve found more works through Twitter than my website. How’s that for non-sleazy marketing?
Whether it’s following up with prospects or clients, the activity is time-consuming and undesirable. You’d rather just be given more work to do. After all, that’s what you do best. But if you want more business deals then follow-up is a must. If you’ve just finished a project for a client, sending a follow-up email might land you more work, a testimonial or even a referral. With prospects, it might land you a new client.
The evil bit about follow-up is that if you don’t do it at the right time, you’ve lost your chance. Follow up too soon and it looks like you’re rushing the client/prospect and they don’t like that. Wait too long and they might forget about you or worse, end up hiring someone else.
To take the hassle out of follow-up, come up with a simple system. Decide on what you feel is the appropriate time after which you need to follow-up then mark it up in your calendar. Next, draft a couple of follow-up emails to use as templates – one for your current clients and one for prospective clients.
Now every time you meet up with a prospect or finish a project with a client, mark the follow-up date on your calendar and on that day use your follow-up email template to send a follow-up email. The evil quotient of following up just went down.
6. Cold calls
There’s a reason it’s called cold calling – they give freelancers a chill. If you’ve ever made a cold call, you know what I’m talking about. The idea of calling someone you don’t know – worse, who doesn’t know you are enough to make the best of us break out in a sweat. You end up feeling like a sleazy salesperson.
Well, the trick with cold calls is to not think of it as a cold call. Think of it as an introduction. Suppose you call up a company, introduce yourself and ask something as simple as ‘Do you work with freelancers? If so, I’d love to send you my details’. That doesn’t sound bad right? You’re introducing yourself and then making a non-pushy pitch.
What’s even better than thinking of cold calls as introductory calls is – to not make them at all. Seriously. Make email your best friend. Send cold call emails to any company you’d like to work with. Research them and find the correct person to send an LOI (Letter of Introduction) with all the relevant information.
Doesn’t sound so evil now, right? There’s always a way to make things easier.
The bottom line, however, is you have to put in efforts to try your best. It’s always good to remind ourselves that we enter freelancing because we are confidence with our strength and discipline. So keep this in mind, change your mindset to more positive one, put in some efforts and practice tips given above, then you are on the road of successful freelancing.
What other freelancing tasks do you find evil but necessary to do? What is the task you would never do again if given half the chance? Let us know your freelance nightmare so we can discuss the ways to tackle it!