If you are a freelancer, you will know how important it is to be efficient with your work. When you oversee your entire schedule, then it is crucial to make every minute of work time count.
This is because you do not have the structure of a conventional 9-5 job which keeps your days under control. It is therefore easy for you to run out of time to complete client work, waste time procrastinating and trying to complete tasks unrelated to your work projects, or struggle to create a consistent flow of income month to month.
Despite this, efficiency is not a word that is often used when referring to freelancing. There is a widespread image of freelance work that involves cocktails on the beach, traveling, and extensive free time.
While the rise of digital nomadism hasn’t helped this reputation, the realities of freelance work are rather different. Choosing your own work hours can be both a positive and negative attribute. It is true that you can sleep in during the morning if you are more of a night owl or vice versa but being available around the clock leaves you doing work at unseemly hours.
No one with a full-time job is expected to post social media content first thing in the morning or complete a last-minute task for a client when you are supposed to be enjoying your weekend, yet this is a reality for many freelancers.
Therefore, it is imperative that you take better control over your freelance business, making the whole entity more efficient in order to minimize its impact on your personal life and help you become more successful in your career.
Here’s how you can do it:
Learn how to set your rates and get paid faster
One of the most common issues that freelancers face is setting the right rates for your services and making sure you are being paid on time and in full, with no protestation from your client.
Unfortunately, due to their lack of corporate clout, many freelancers must deal with clients who try and haggle their way to a cheaper price, refuse to pay immediately at the end of the project, or fail to sign a basic contract protecting the freelancer from having their work stolen, copied or used without permission.
This is especially true for professionals who are only just embarking on their freelance careers because large businesses are unlikely to take them seriously as a business entity
It is, therefore, incredibly important that you learn how to set your rates properly and learn how to get paid faster – such as by having payment terms on invoice or setting out a contract for your client to sign at the start of the project.
This will make your freelance business more efficient because you will waste less time haggling or chasing up payments and more time concentrating on the work itself.
Establish a consistent marketing outreach strategy
Another common problem that many freelance businesses face is a lack of consistent work.
Given the nature of freelance work, this is hardly surprising, but it can be overcome with the right marketing strategy.
The reason for this is that the more prominent you are in your industry, the more inbound leads you are going to receive. This effectively means that clients come to you rather than the other way around.
Pursuing new clients can take up a huge amount of time daily for freelancers, which eats into your work time and free time. Although this is to be expected when you are just starting out, you need a more long-term client acquisition strategy.
Start building your public, professional profile by posting about your business regularly on social media, teaching others your skills in blog, video, or audio format, or guest starring on popular podcasts, channels, or platforms in your niche.
Not only will this make you more visible to potential clients, but the social proof generated from it will make it easier for you to convince them to part with their hard-earned cash.
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Create a daily routine
Another threat to the efficiency of your freelance business is a lack of daily structure.
When you get to be your own boss, it can be difficult to discipline yourself, stay focused, or remain motivated during difficult times.
Waking up at different times every morning, completing client work when you feel like it, and only reaching out to new prospects sporadically will quickly sap your efficiency and drive you into a negative spiral of unprofessionalism, lack of motivation, and confusion.
Instead, run your days like the CEO of a business would – organizing it in a schedule the night beforehand, waking up at the same time every day, and conducting yourself in a professional manner.
Build a productive work environment
If you want to remain focused and productive during working hours, then you will want to create a dedicated office space.
This doesn’t literally need to be an office – it can be anywhere from the end of the kitchen table to a coworking desk or the local cafe. As long as you can be free from distractions and associate it purely with work (rather than relaxation or family time), your mind will find it easier to switch into a productive mode.
You should also aim to make your work environment comfortable and pleasant to spend time in. Invest in a chair with ample back support, a footrest, proper lighting, and other accessories, making it easier to spend hours on end.
If you have too much work to complete, consider outsourcing it
Of course, you may eventually reach a level of success as a freelancer where you struggle to complete work on time due to excessive demand.
Although you can reject the projects or put them on a waiting list – as many freelancers do – you could instead turn your freelancing business into an actual standalone business by outsourcing the projects to other specialists.
You can then take a cut off the top and profit from work yourself, expanding your brand as a result.