Up to part 6 now. Wow. Yeah, usual disclaimer: this is borne out of my experience as a freelancer so far so just take what works for you and feel free to start a discussion going. Feel free to read the other parts to this list and to spread the post link around. More below the fold.
Keep them. If you agreed to something, keep to it. If you absolutely must back out, do so and forfeit your fee. If you have to work all night, you have to work all night. Meet your deadlines. Always.
- TIME MANAGEMENT:
You have to organise your time. You need to leave aside time to work, time to play and so on. This is why you create a schedule and stick to it as I mentioned previously. You cannot schedule appointments that clash. You cannot work all hours of the day or night. You must factor in time spent getting to meetings with clients and so on. If you are freelancing one method by which you are paid is by the hours you work. So make sure you are on top of that. I have a diary that allows me to note what I have to do each day and another diary with the hours noted so that I can block off sections at a time. This way when someone calls me up and I can look at my diary and organise a time with them for when I am free. I block off appointments, committments for societies I am involved in and personal stuff all in different colours. Use highlighters. I write to do lists on pieces of paper and cross things off as I get them done. Figure out what works for you and use it.
- EXTEND YOURSELF:
As a freelancer, you will not get work all the time. Extend yourself and use the skills you do have. I have done work that has involved bookkeeping and web design as well. A friend of mine who primarily does film production, has an I.T. call out fee as well as a fee for being part of someone else’s crew. Figure out what you can do and let people know what you are capable of.
- LEARN TO SAY NO:
Another freelancer I know takes on all the work he can get. This leaves him busy with no time to spend efficiently on any additional training he wants or for a social life. In fact, it leaves him so busy that he has to spend most of the cash he gets on hiring someone to do graphic design work that he could do, someone else do the accounts and so on. If he said no or managed his time so that he could say “Not this week but maybe next week”, he could set aside time to do his marketing, accounting and graphic design, all himself, have time for a social life and any training he needs and keep the cash he would otherwise be frittering away. He could then save up to travel – something that he really wants to do. At a pinch, he would probably only need to hire an accountant every two months or so.
Say “No.” to work you can’t take on due to a) time committments or b) a lack of knowledge/experience required to take it on. You cannot take on extra work and work yourself to death or waste money hiring people to do stuff you could do if you managed everything better and you cannot make yourself look bad by backing out of work after agreeing or not delivering on time.
- HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN:
A lot of people told me I didn’t need one. However, you need one. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be very fancy and only has to say “so much money by this particular date”. Hear me out though. Not only do you put down what you need to make to cover your overhead costs and so on each year (and you will find yourself needing to reference this every time you panic about your rates, trust me), you will also put down what target market/demographic you are attempting to reach, what marketing strategy you are using and which one works best and so on. Your business plan is an ongoing record of what you are a) aiming for and b) what is working best for you to push you towards that goal. So don’t be concerned about needing it to get a bank loan (unless you feel you need one or investors), use it as a reference for yourself. You can’t keep this information scattered around on bits of paper or in your head so get it down into one document. Keep updating it on a monthly basis. That’s right, review it monthly.
That’s it for this part. Stay tuned for more and feel free to rant and rave in the comments.