10 Tips for Becoming a Freelancing PowerHouse

When it comes to freelancing, most people assume it’s all fun and games. The thing that many forget to realize is that when you are setting your own hours and being your own boss, responsibilities double. If you work from home, I am sure you know what I am talking about.

Working from home is great, and setting my own hours couldn’t be better. However, there was a point when it almost felt like it wasn’t worth it. Not anymore. I made some changes to the way I do things and since then it has been all fun and games (besides occasional work stress).

I have been working from home for a couple years and I really do enjoy being there for my family when they need me. In this post I’ve listed a few tips that will help you conquer the pitfalls of freelancing and turn you into a freelancing powerhouse.

1. I Don’t Think You Can Do It

If a client said that to you, what would your reaction be? Exactly! You would get all pumped up and ready to show the client that you’ve got everything it takes to be the best out there. One of the traits or qualities that every freelancer should possess is self-confidence. If you aren’t sure of yourself, there is no way you can make someone else believe in you. Be confident, believe in yourself and everyone else will believe in you.

2. Kids, Dinner, Laundry and Work — Too Much?

Working from home is a dream to many, but there are more distractions than working from an office. You are constantly surrounded by household chores, family members, and distraction that can take over your concentration and eventually your work itself. Plan a schedule and stick to it. Unless it’s an emergency, act like you are glued to your work and filter out all the distractions. Plan your schedule and learn to follow it no matter how tempting it is to grab a drink and watch the game on TV.

3. To Achieve This, I Need To Achieve That

If you want to be a successful freelancer, one of the important things you need to learn is to set goals. Without knowing what you are reaching for, there is no way you can get anywhere. If your goal is to find two regular clients by the end of the month, set up a secondary goal that will help you achieve the primary goal of landing those two clients. Build yourself a series of manageable steps.

4. Can You Afford To Hire a Personal Accountant?

I’ve been doing pretty well as a freelancer, but there is no way I can afford an accountant. I am sure many of you still manage your own finances related to your freelancing career — but if you can’t manage finances properly, good luck managing your freelance business. Make sure to set up a structure to keep track of expenses and income so it is easier to track everything. If at all possible, do try to hire someone to help.

5. Don’t Be a Penny-Pincher

If you want to make money, you will have to spend some. I am not saying spend money on those make money online scams, but rather invest it in your business. If you are a designer who needs software that costs $600.00, find ways to get it. If a one time expense can bring you multiple clients and freelance work over time, it can’t be that bad, right?

6. Can I Count On You?

FreelanceFolder is a great blog. Would it be this way if it wasn’t for the guys who work so hard? Absolutely not. Readers can count on them to make sure the blog is updated with good content. You need to get people in your niche or industry look up to you — be someone people can count on and always, always make sure you live up to their expectations.

7. Visit The Web-Based Coffee Shops — It’s Free!

Whether or not you freelance online is not the question here. If you have an opportunity to be at two places at once, you need to make sure to capitalize on that opportunity. Your blog and/or portfolio site is your home, be there. But make sure you utilize the web-based coffee shops such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc… Interact, communicate and be a part of the community.

8. It’s Time To Take a Little Walk

I am usually on the computer from the time I wake up untill the time I head to bed. Whether I am writing an article, or creating a social media campaign for a client, I make sure I don’t sit for more than an hour. I take regular breaks. It helps me come up with fresh ideas. There is no point sitting for hours, working on the same things over and over again, be cause all it does is stale your mind. Get up, take a break. It will help you tremendously.

9. Infosnack — Organic and 0 Calories

The only thing that can make you better at your trade is learning from others. Read as many blogs, articles and magazines in your field as possible. Set aside a time each day for “infosnacking.” Digest the information and utilize that information to make yourself better at what you do. Use feed readers and other online tools to manage information and go through them. And yes, infosnacks are usually free, organic, and contain 0 calories. Go for it.

10. You Work In Your Pajamas?

Let’s be honest here, we freelancers often work in our pajamas. I know it, you know it. But our clients sure don’t need to know every little fact about our business. Make sure to portray a professional image to your clients. If you are sending a proposal, have a format that makes it look like they are working with someone who knows the finer points of business.

What do you think?
These are some of my thoughts on how you can turn yourself into a freelancing powerhouse, what are yours? Offer your tips and experience in the comments and help out some newer freelancers.

Comments

  1. says

    I agree with all of this except number 4. I would make having an accountant one of those things you don’t pinch pennies on. I got one as soon as I started working full-time from home (I’d been freelancing part-time with a day job before) and I’m sure he’s saved me way more money than he cost me.

    And there may always be the option of bartering for services with an accountant or tax professional if he or she needs a website, wants to start an e-mail newsletter, etc.

    But for me, just the peace of mind of having someone else to do the number crunching makes me feel so much better I’d find a way to pay twice as much as I’m paying for the service right now if I had to.

  2. says

    Hi,

    Great article – thank you.

    I disagree with no.10: I know we have the possibilities working in clothings we like because nobody will see how we look like. But I made the experience that it gives me more boost having a daily routine. And changing pyjamas to ‘working clothes’ is like a sign for me “I am WORKING now!” – no spare time, no procrastination.

    Cheers,

    Stefan

  3. says

    I agree with the guy above me. Get dressed when you work, even if you are working from home, it does in fact help you psychologically. You don’t need to get dressed-up, just get dressed.

  4. says

    Brilliant article! There’s one more thing I’d like to add to the “make a schedule and stick to it” point. Not only should you respect your working hours, but also you should respect your free time. That is, if you’re spending time with your family over the weekend, or at the table, make sure all computers are switched off (or at least napping)

    And do not go to bed with your laptop. Respect your sleeping hours as well. That way you can be more productive.

    Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  5. says

    Great article. I agree with Sarah though… Spend the money for an accountant. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a bookkeeper, just make sure you have some way of tracking your income and expenses (I use a combo of Freshbooks/Mint/Shoeboxed) and save at least a 4th of your earnings. Then hire a good accountant to do your tax return. Also, it helps if you pay quarterly estimated taxes (which your accountant can help determine) and every month/quarter compare your freelance income from last year to your income this year to make sure you’re holding enough back for taxes.

    If you are a freelancer who needs help getting business, check out my latest blog post:
    Use Networking and Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Increase your Freelance Business
    http://alt-creative.net/2009/08/use-networing-and-word-of-mouth-marketing-to-increase-your-freelance-business/

  6. says

    Some good advice, broken down nice and bite-sized.

    I’d also add it’s VERY important to be able to visualize your “conditions of success” so you can meet them – it gives you a gut feel for what you want, a goal to work towards (or plan “back” from) and a way to measure.

  7. says

    those are some good starting lines, one really important one you need to have to start up is a closed workspace, away from the house noise and kids running around…it will make you work like in an office and keep the distractions out of the door. and ofc the schedule…join both and you have an awesome starting point!

  8. says

    Every time I tell someone I work from home, they tell me how lucky I am. BUT, just like you pointed out, freelancing is challenging! It takes a lot of self-discipline. Distractions are my weaknesses and every other point in this post was right on target. If you have a dog, take it for a walk so you get some activity for yourself and a chance to give some attention to your dog considering she sits and watches you work all day.

    I must say that working in PJs is not the best way to go though…makes you want to hop back into bed!

  9. says

    Point 2 is very true. I spent a while working from home in the same room as my xbox – oh how easy it was to flick it on for a “quick” game of pro-evo or the like.
    Make sure you’re working area is free of distractions!

  10. says

    Good article. A bit superficial… but again its good if your have just become a freelancer – but i have run my own company since 2005 – so I already know all this :-) thanks anyway…

  11. says

    Scheduling activities for the whole day is such an important task for every freelancer. Although there would be some glitches that may happen, however, this will eventually make your whole day as productive as you can be weather as a professional or as a family person.

    Infosnacking is good practice too. There are times your warehouse of ideas gets emptied, so better to stock ideas as much as you can. You will never know when you can find a good subject to write about with the help of other reading resources. Constant exposure to trends within the blogosphere will eventually be useful with your writings.

    In addition conditioning your mind before working will also give an extra boost. Take a bath, listen to classical music, organize your work area, prepare the things you need, etc. In short, make yourself comfortable as possible and set the work mode.ss

  12. says

    if you can’t initially hire an accountant full time, at least get one to do or review your taxes. it’s so important and will make you feel better that you did them right. Not to mention, the accountant will know better than you what you can/can’t write off, and other ways you can save. Mine saved me more than $10k in taxes last year. I couldn’t have done that!

  13. says

    “Infosnacking”: thanks for giving a name to what I do first thing every day. You need to set aside time to feed your mind. Sometimes the pressure of work keeps me out of the loop for a few days, but then I go and have a large “infomeal” to make up for it.

    I would add, keep a task list. Absolutely every task I think of, business-related or home-related, large or small, goes onto mine. I just switched to Toodledo because I like being able to filter tasks by context (home or work) and folder. Looking at my task list every day shows me when I can work on side projects, when I have to get my nose on that grindstone, and when I have to schedule time for household stuff.

    Also, build a timesheet system right from day 1. When you have 2 clients it’s easy to keep track, but when expansion happens its tends to be in spurts and then suddenly you’ve worked for 10 clients in a day and you don’t even remember who they are, let alone what you’ve done for them. Still haven’t found the perfect web-based time tracking solution (with iPhone app) so if anyone else out there knows one, share please!

  14. says

    Very useful list! You’re completely right about taking the time to get up and stretch every so often. I find that it helps immensely to take a 10 minute walk every so often, especially when I get stuck on a problem. Taking some time to think about something else allows you to relax a bit and focus more upon your return to the problem at hand.

  15. says

    Thanks for describing my daily lifestyle… only I choose to work in Prada. Who cares if no one sees me but my 2 year old… I look good.

  16. says

    Something that people forget–freelancing is great, but Big Brother doesn’t (usually) take his share out of those checks. If you get a gig for $1000…don’t spend $1000 in your head. When you think about that money, think of it as $700, and as soon as you get it, put 30% in your tax account. I know too many people (ahem, myself included) who’ve had that little shock at tax time…what, I’m not getting anything back and I have to PAY?

  17. says

    Great article. I also have hired an accountant since the first day I started freelancing. I do all the book keeping. My accountant just does the necessary paperwork that’s required by law. It saves me a headache and I can concentrate on selling and designing.

  18. says

    Great Article! I always like to know how others handle the “working from home” idea. It is a great idea, however you have to be careful to manage your time wisely and these are some good steps above to getting started with that!

    Thanks!

  19. says

    Hi there.
    One tip. Select you’re clients! There are some who will never be good for business – even if the money in that project is something extraordinary!
    Filter the good clients!

    Regards.

  20. says

    I think this article is great for younger and new freelancers. To be honest, it’s mostly common sense and it’s nice to know I already do everything there except for working in my pajamas. I sleep naked. I do not work naked…often.

    But the amount of artists who do not know this stuff is quite staggering and I hope folks take it in.

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