I know lots of visitors to Family Friendly Working are already working on a freelance basis or thinking about going freelance. I’ve been self employed for around eight years, and have had plenty of experience in generating plenty of freelance work. Here are some tips to help you develop your freelance career:
- If you work from home, make sure you have a clear workspace. I sometimes feel like I need to erect barbed wire round my desk to stop the family covering it with their possessions – I’m currently working with j’s toy turtle on the desk – but it is worth keeping your space clutter free so you can start work as soon as you sit down.
- Keep a list. Make sure that you have a list of what you need to do each week or day so you can tick off tasks as they are completed. Try sitting down on Friday afternoon – or your own ‘end of week’ and note down jobs for the coming week. Again, that means that you know what to do as soon as you start work on Monday morning.
- Network and make contacts. My best bits of freelance work come from some of my great contacts. These may be people I’ve worked with in the past, or can be people I meet at networking events or connect with through Facebook and Twitter. Stay in touch: I asked someone I worked with around 13 years ago for a quote for a book and she has since passed thousands of pounds of work my way. And try out all sorts of different ways to network: you won’t know what works well until you have tried it.
- Keep good records. Staying in touch with people is much easier if you have good records of your contacts, and keeping accurate files makes it easier to bill people or chase them for overdue payments. Start your records from day one as it is easier to note down a few contacts at a time than deal with a massive backlog.
- Promote your business every day. If you want a constant flow of work, keep promoting constantly too. Just spend 15 minutes each day, however busy you are, offering expert advice on a forum, following up a contact, or creating your next newsletter. There are more promotional ideas here in the Action Plan.
- Get help. if you’re freelancing it is tempting to think that you have to do everything yourself. This can hold you back: look at outsourcing time consuming work that doesn’t suit your skills. This might be invoicing, cold calling or something else: you will know which jobs you put off because you hate them!
If you have more tips to help freelancers succeed, can you share them by posting in the comments below?