Hopefully, you’ve been able to take some time off this Christmas to relax and have returned refreshed and ready to work.

Set clear goals

You may have had “make money”, “get more clients” as your aims for 2017. These are fine but not very concrete. Goal setting works better if you have something specific in mind. So something like, sign on 10 new clients is a goal that can be measured.

Don’t just stop there, outline how you’re going to achieve that goal. For example, to get those 10 clients you could set yourself tasks like posting X amount of times on social media or sending X amount of query emails a week. That way you’ve got a plan that you’re more likely to stick to and achieve.

Streamline your payment process

Late payments are one of the most irritating and worrying aspects of freelancing. Freelancers are often put to the bottom of the list of people to pay. This is completely unfair as arguably, you need that money more than bigger companies do.

The first step is to come up with very clear and simple payment terms. Put these in your contract if you haven’t already and outline when you expect to be paid. It’s well worth putting in late payment fees as a deterrent. Worst case scenario, you’re at least partly compensated for your wait.

Another good step is to get bookkeeping software that will create and send invoices and reminders to your clients. Always remember to send invoices as people do genuinely forget if there’s no invoice to prompt them.

Revamp your website

The New Year is a great time to give your website a bit of a refresh. This could mean getting a new logo, theme or editing the copy so it’s a bit more snappy and relevant.

If there’s a service you’re providing that you would rather not anymore, or is not very popular, then this is a good time to cut it from your website. Make sure your website has up to date contact information too.

Increase your prices

Many freelancers are hesitant to do this. The main reasons for this are due to lack of confidence. It might be hard to think of yourself sitting at your desk as a “business”, but that’s exactly what that is and businesses are made to make money.

Many freelancers are underselling themselves and charging less than is sustainable long-term. So make a stand and start charging more for new clients and see where it takes you. There will be some who reject your price, but remain firm and don’t back down.

Automate what you can

If you’re looking to streamline your business, one of the best ways you can do this is to focus on your non-billable hours. This is time spent on marketing, admin and accounting. They’re important parts of your business but they’re also hours you’re not actually earning money for.

So if you can automate any of your processes via new software or apps and spend less time on them, you’re maximising your potential capacity to take on more clients and make more money.

Outsource

If you’ve found yourself a little overworked this year and want to slow down but not miss out, then the next step is to hire some help. In order to keep costs down you might want to find another freelancer who can help take some of the load off or take care of tedious tasks that are holding you back.

Get involved in the online community

Being a freelancer is lonely work but there’s a huge online community of freelancers that you can tap into. There are also plenty who, alongside their freelance work, provide training courses and tips on how to get the most out of your business.

Get involved in social media, online forums and blogging, try guest posting and reaching out to others in similar situations. You never know where a new connection could lead.

Have you set any other New Year’s resolutions for yourself? What’s going to be your focus for this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!