The New Year is a great time to reflect on our lives and our work, and make plans for the year to come. Here are our suggestions for some New Year’s resolutions to give your freelance life a boost.
- Work Smarter and Healthier
Take some time to identify what would help you achieve a higher income, more job satisfaction or greater productivity while working fewer hours or having less stress. Remember that your costs increase, so regularly review your rates. You should consider raising them annually. Also, ensure you’re taking time to exercise and eat healthily, and move around regularly if you’re desk-bound.
- Know When To Pass The Buck
Whether you’ve taken on too much work, a task with a component that’s not your area of expertise, or you’re struggling to find the time for promotion, book-keeping or your tax return, learn to recognise those tasks that would be best delegated or outsourced to someone else. Sometimes it’s counter-productive (and not cost-efficient) to do everything yourself – not to mention stressful!
- Get Your Work/Life Balance Right
There will usually be times in your life when you live to work rather than work to live, but these should only be short-lived. You need work time. You need time for yourself. You need time for family, friends, and the other commitments in your life. Make this the year you look critically at how you use and divide your time, and change things for the better. Remember the ‘free’ in freelance? You have the freedom to work the way you want to, when you want to – and in some cases, where you want to – so make the most of it!
- Boost Your Brand
Your most important client is you. Don’t ignore your own customer service commitments, your own inbox, your own website or your own promotional campaign because you’re too busy making these things shine for your clients. Work on promoting your expertise in your niche, taking higher-profile and higher-paying jobs, and reconnect with previous clients who supplied you with this kind of work. Don’t be afraid to turn down projects that promise little satisfaction or income.
- Stay Sane on Social Media
Use apps and services to automate some of your social media interactions and schedule posts, ensuring you have a social media presence even when you’re busy. Always be clear about whether you’ve using social media for promotion, networking or socialising; you should establish separate professional profiles on social media if you don’t already have them. Finally, don’t be sucked into spending hours chatting on Twitter when you should be working. You shouldn’t be social media’s slave; it should be yours!
- Beware the Loneliness of the Long Distance Freelancer
Freelancing can be lonely, so ensure you make connections with other people – particularly other freelancers who will understand the demands of your lifestyle – and try not to limit your interactions to digital ones. It’s good to spend time with others face-to-face, so arrange a friendly coffee or lunch now and then.
Widen your circle of contacts and potential clients by networking, both digitally and in person. Look out for relevant forums, scheduled social media chats, trade shows, conferences and business meetings. This may open up opportunities you didn’t know existed.
- Have Back-Ups
Client lists, documents, designs, email contacts – if one or more of your devices fail or become compromised, would you have a back-up? Consider using the cloud or an external hard drive – or even better, both – to back-up all your important work and contacts, and make back-ups a regular task.
- Commit to Professional Development
Put regular time aside to hone your skills, widen your experience and increase your knowledge – otherwise, you risk getting sloppy or becoming out of touch. There will always be someone else out there who is a little more up-to-date or knowledgeable, so make sure you’re never more than one step behind.
New Year’s Resolutions are all very well, but remember that reflecting and planning are valuable activities at any time of year; so perhaps a tenth resolution should be to abolish the idea of annual resolutions and take time out more regularly to look back and look forward.
Happy New Year!