Hey, freelancer – did you eat any fruit or vegetables today? Have you got any time off booked into your hectic schedule? Are you sure your financial accounts are in order? Did you check your Twitter account today? These are among the many questions that you should be asking yourself on daily basis but don’t worry, we understand you’re super busy so we’re here to offer a helping hand. We’ve put together some handy hints and tips to help you significantly boost your freelance career.
Get out of the house – When choosing to go down the freelance route, you often sacrifice access to a kitted-out office surrounded by colleagues and an hour’s worth of fresh air every lunchtime. Freelancers typically work from the comfort of their own homes and it can be easy to lose track of time when you’re getting tackling a never-ending to do list but it is essential that you do get outside regularly.
Change out of your pyjamas and head down to your favourite café or even investigate the potentials for hot desking and co-working in your local area. This will keep cabin fever at bay and drastically improve your mental wellbeing.
Dress to impress – Speaking of pyjamas, another great piece of advice we always offer our freelance clients is to dress like you have somebody to impress even when you can go for days with only your cat for company. Looking the part means you feel the part and when you feel the part, your confidence levels rise and you can apply yourself more efficiently to your role. That’s not to say you should sit in full bib and brace at your laptop but even just brushing your hair and putting on something reasonably smart can significantly boost your productivity.
Work with an accountant – You likely opted to live life as a freelance professional in a bid to escape the restrictions of full-time employment but freelancing can actually be even more demanding. You’re doing everything for yourself, from building your brand to liaising with clients, which means sometimes your accounting can fall by the way side and tumble to the bottom of your list of priorities.
However, excellent financial records are a necessity if you want to stay on the right side of the law and succeed. Working with a qualified professional can take the weight off your shoulders and ensure that you are ticking all the right boxes and hitting the right deadlines to avoid crippling penalties.
Go to networking events – We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, if you want to prosper in the increasingly competitive freelance marketplace, you need to see your network of connections as a constant work in progress. You may think networking events are only for big corporate companies looking to keep their clients sweet and show off to their competitors but they are invaluable for aspiring freelancers too. Schedule at least one industry-specific event into your diary each month and whatever you do, don’t forget your business cards!
Take advantage of flexible working – Working for yourself can be extremely stressful and you might begin to wonder if your blood pressure levels will ever settle again but there are also a whole plethora of perks to being self-employed. One of the main advantages is that you are responsible for your own time management. This means you are in a great position to incorporate flexible working into your professional routine and get the most out of your own potential, even if this means working through the night and sleeping all afternoon.
Grow your digital reputation – As a freelancer who often works from home or from a cosy corner in the local café, you likely rely heavily on digital channels to keep communication with clients and potential customers in check. Taking advantage of the many free-to-use social media platforms available today will enable you to expand your reach, stay connected with your demographic and gain invaluable brand exposure. Use a scheduling service such as Hootsuite to make sure your online visibility doesn’t suffer while you’re working your socks off.
Stick to your morals – As we’re sure you don’t need us to tell you, the competition stakes are rising every day in the freelance marketplace, which means you’re often willing to do pretty much anything it takes to secure each client. Of course, business is all about going the extra mile and tailoring your service to meet the needs of a variety of customers but one thing you should never do is compromise the core values of your brand and work ethic. If you’d like some more advice on what to do when clients expect you to compromise your business values, click here.
Make time for R&R – There mere suggestion of down time or a stint away from your laptop might be all it takes to send you into a blind panic but whether you like it or not, time off is just as essential as hard work. Gone are the days when a long weekend away from the office and your full-time routine were welcomed with open arms because as a freelance professional, it’s all go, go, go. But you do need to factor in some well-earned rest and recuperation to regroup, recharge and reinvest in your mental wellbeing.
Keep your portfolio up to date – If you really can’t stand the thought of doing nothing at all, then use the time away from your workload to address your personal portfolio. Staying on top of your portfolio and professional identity can seem less important when you’ve got a growing collection of clients under your belt but you never know who might be looking. Don’t let a jam-packed schedule make you complacent and you’ll thank yourself later when you inevitably reach a bit of a dry patch and are on the hunt for work once again.
Stay fit and healthy – Finally, make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet and getting a decent amount of exercise every week. Not only is this vital for staying physically fit and healthy, it will also go a long way to keeping your mental performance in tip-top condition. Sure, treat yourself to the odd glass of wine and bar (or two) of chocolate now and then but also make a conscious effort to fuel your body with the vitamins it needs to perform to its full potential.