It’s no secret that freelancing can be incredibly lucrative. It’s a full-time job for many, and the benefits are unassailable: you can make your own hours, aren’t beholden to a demanding boss, and can potentially make more money than many of your 9-to-5 counterparts. Still, many people struggle once they’ve started. They have problems finding steady work, can’t effectively manage their time, experience trouble relying on the internet to support their work life, or don’t know how to leverage their networks in order to reach prospective clients.
While these struggles are understandable, they are largely avoidable. There are many simple ways to tweak your freelance routine, and in doing so significantly boost the amount of income you’re generating.
Get Organized and Improve Your Tools
The bane of most freelancers is poor organizational skills. With so much going on, it’s easy to lose track of time, forget to respond to emails, and keep track of a daily schedule. It’s also easy to let old hardware prevent you from getting as much done as you possibly could. Simple tricks like learning how to upgrade your laptop, or figuring out how to manage your data properly can be immensely helpful when trying to boost productivity.
A vital organizational step is to plan out a daily schedule and stick to it. Whether you are a morning person or a night person, the best thing to do, according to freelance journalist and Seattle-based author Michelle Goodman, is to work during the same hours every day. This is essential for both happiness and productivity. If you give yourself the opportunity to develop a steady routine, you will not only create a necessary and clear separation between your work and personal life, you will be able to better manage your time.
It can also be helpful to keep all of your ideas in a single place—when you have so much going on, it’s easy for ideas to get lost. One tried-and-true strategy is using a physical notebook to organize and compile all of your projects. If you don’t want to carry around pens and paper, another option is to arrange your notes digitally, by using programs like Evernote.
Find a High-Quality Website to House Your Portfolio
Because it’s the internet and there’s almost zero face-to-face interaction, freelancers tend to underestimate the importance of a good first impression. In truth, it’s absolutely critical, and the key is presenting your work by using a high quality website.
Having a personal website immediately gives prospective clients the impression that they are working with a seasoned professional. Clients will have the opportunity to sort through your well-organized portfolio, in a clean and aesthetically pleasing space, which doesn’t force them to click through a bundle of links at the bottom of an email.
It’s important to remember that not all website builders are created equal—some stand out over others. Considering things like cost, design assistance, and aesthetics are critical when making your selection.
Manage Your Time Effectively
Most freelancers aren’t paid by the hour, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important, or financially beneficial, to keep track of the time you spend working. Your goal should always be to work as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.
If you want to get the most of your time, it’s useful to use an app to keep you in check. There are many out there, and a little bit of research can help you identify the best one to suit your needs. Being honest with yourself and identifying where you’re wasting time is often the difference between an amateur and experienced freelancer.
Leverage Your Networks
An effective but frequently overlooked tool for increasing your visibility as a freelancer is by leveraging your existing networks.
It’s both easy and wise to create profiles on websites like Fiverr and UpWork, which will allow prospective clients to find you based on your specialty. However, it’s not wise to overlook the fact that within your existing networks, many people you may already be connected with are looking for the exact services you are offering. Reach out, make posts, and work the connections that you already have.