Life can be pretty tough for freelancers. It’s not like all you have to do for work on a daily basis is to clock in, do your job, and clock out again. You have other responsibilities alongside your clients’ needs, and you pretty much have to have control over everything from marketing yourself to doing your tax returns. And it’s fair to say that many freelancers struggle with a lot of this – and some may even decide to call it quits and revert to the relative comforts of a regular job.
However, successful freelancers make it all work. And they don’t just survive – they thrive. If you can put some of the following information into action, you will find that you have a lot more chance of success. Let’s take a look at how freelancers can survive and see if you can introduce some of these practices into your area of business.
Many freelancers out there right now aren’t doing it because they want to – it’s down to the situation they are in. More jobs are turning up in the gig economy, which is basically a way for would-be employers to skimp on their tax and insurance duties. Because of this, most freelancers don’t even have a business plan, or bother to set themselves goals., They just cruise along, hoping for the best, and happy to be taken advantage of by low paying clients. The trouble is, without goals or a plan, you aren’t going to get anywhere. A robust business plan is the foundation of any business, and if you don’t have one already, it should be a priority.
Getting out there
Because freelancing can be such a lonely experience – more on which later – it’s easy to start avoiding contact with anyone other than your clients. However, this is only going to cause you many issues in the long-term. Simply put, you have to get yourself out there, develop face-to-face relationships with people and try and expand your network. Ultimately, people remember faces rather than cold emails, so the more people you meet, the more chance you have of picking up new clients.
You can get automation in almost every area of your business these days. And savvy freelancers understand that using automation can free up vast amounts of time so they can focus on more money-making activities. So, if you are still chasing up payments from clients by phone, think about using accounts payable automation instead. Or if you are wasting time going to social media to post your latest thoughts and ideas every hour or so, think about investing in automated post technology. You can even use autoresponder software, too, if you spend a long time plowing through your emails.
You don’t have to automate everything, of course, but you should consider outsourcing if you find yourself doing repetitive, time-consuming tasks that are actually ending up costing you money. Keeping on top of databases, data entry – even answering the phones – can all get in the way of you earning your crust. Most freelancers spend at least 1-2 days a week doing basic admin tasks which could be passed onto an assistant. And that frees up your time to do what you do best – and earn vital money for your business.
Lose poor clients
While it can be tempting for freelancers to take any job going, it can often have a harmful effect on your business. Poor-quality clients are everywhere, unfortunately, and whether it’s because they don’t’ pay you on time or just don’t pay you enough, it can be a huge drain on your time and resources. You are far better off leaving these cowboys and spending that time developing relationships with others.
As we mentioned above, freelancing can be a lonely existence. While at first, the quiet and freedom of working from home, say, is incredibly appealing, that feeling soon wears off. And you will find that you crave company, miss the office japes and camaraderie, and just want to be around people. We already mentioned one solution above, in that networking and getting out there is a vital part of your freelancing life. But you can also think about using coworking space. These environments offer a single desk space among lots of other freelancers from all kinds of different industries. And it’s a great way to meet people, get that camaraderie back, and even learn a few new things to boot.
Focus on growth
Another key thing for freelancers to understand is that you should always be striving to take your business further. Whether that’s turning your freelance SEO business into a fully fledged digital marketing agency or just finding a better paying niche is up to you. But if you start getting stuck in a rut, you will find you lose interest and passion in your work, which is a sure sign that trouble lies ahead. Try and put yourself into some uncomfortable positions, and keep trying new things each day. Both these activities will help you keep interested, motivated, and, most importantly, sane.
The legal stuff
Don’t forget, just because you are a freelancer it doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules and regulations. And it happens a lot more often than you might think. Why? Well, when you are working for yourself, you don’t think that things like safety and health apply to you. But let’s say, for example, that a client visits your office one day and trips over your rug, hurting themselves badly. You are going to get sued – pure and straightforward. So don’t forget to take health and safety seriously, and always take out the right levels of insurance to cover your business from litigation.
OK, so there you have it – a few handy tips for surviving – and thriving – as a freelancer. It can be a tough old world out there when you are working for yourself, but these ideas can help you make sure that your business is around to explore more opportunities for many years to come.