Are you a freelancer looking for ways to be productive? Freelancing can be a tough gig, but with the right routine, it doesn't have to feel like one.
Freelancing is a business -- it's not something you do on the side (although you can certainly start that way, and that's how most people try to project it as well).
When you are a freelancer, you are self-employed.
With no boss telling you what to do, no colleagues to prod you on, and nothing but yourself (and your motivation to do what you set out to achieve), you are all but on your own.
As such, staying productive (for years on end) is a big ask.
Check out these steps that will help put your freelance business on the right track.
Put up your work hours on the board. Follow it to the ends of the earth
First, decide your own work hours.
Take your personal habits into the equation. Are you a morning person? Shift the bulk of your work to the mornings. Are you a night owl? You know what to do.
More importantly, Be consistent with your work hours.
This is one of the hardest things for freelancers to do, but it's also one of the most important.
If you don't set boundaries on what time you are working and when not to be contacted then other people will dictate your schedule based on their needs or desires. A calendar is an important tool (just don't let other people -- like your clients -- and others) rule it. It's yours; you should be the master of your own time.
Allocate time for projects wisely
Decide how much time you will spend on each project. Freelancers can have as many or few projects going at a given moment as they want to take on at any one time (or are offered).
For example: If the goal is to make $1000 this week and there's enough work available then it's possible to work 12 hours a day. But that might not be sustainable or desirable for freelancers who want to have more of a social life outside of the work.
In this case, it's important to have boundaries on how much time is spent working so they can balance their workload with other aspects of life like health and friends.
Also, you should decide how much time each individual project should take (on a daily basis or hourly basis, until delivery). For instance, this is how it might look like:
Project 1 (monthly retainer): X hours per day (and exactly that, no more, no less)
Project 2 (fixed price, delivery in 3 days): As fast as you can. Work on it. Ship it away.
Project 3 (hourly): Y hours per day (and exactly that, no more, no less)
This is just a rough guide (you know better).
Which brings us to..
Do What Brings In Revenue
Too many of us freelancers get lost in the "little things", the seemingly endless cycle of "deadlines", and the grunt of everyday work (as long as work lasts).
Way more freelancers are guilty of "not" doing the kind of work that brings in revenue. You know? The $$$$.
On top of the above (the actual work that you do), allocate time for this:
Pitching time: Spend 1 hour a day pitching, cold emailing prospects, bidding for projects.
Business growth time: Spend 1 hour a day networking, building connections on social media, working on your website, and more.
A freelancer's routine should be focused on tasks that bring in revenue.
Marketing and preparing for the next day are two of those things. When you do this work, it will take up time from other activities - usually more profitable ones! Freelancing is about working smarter, not harder.
Your freelancing routine will look different than the person next to you, and that's fine.
You should determine your own steps based on what's sustainable for you and fill in each hour of time accordingly (based on revenue opportunity).
If this is helpful at all, I'll be writing a comprehensive guide that goes into detail about how to build a thorough marketing plan for freelancing (let me know in the comments below if you'd like that).
Automate freelancing business (parts of it, at least)
The first step to a productive freelancing routine is automating what you can. Freelancers are often too busy for repetitive tasks, so they're better off assigning those parts of the process that don't require much thought.
Think about several tasks that you do on a daily basis that "software" can do better than you can.
I can think of a few examples (taking a leaf out of my own freelancing routine):
Automate social media: You need a social presence. You need to be active. Certainly, you need to build connections and really do your best on social media. As a part of this, you'd also need to share the content you create (say, your freelancing blog or videos or podcasts). Automate it using tools like SEMrush (you get a free social media content planner and scheduler, even with the free plan), Buffer, or HootSuite. Further, find ways to make social media really work for you. Train yourself to use social media on steroids.
Setup automated Invoicing: Several tools (including Paypal, Stripe) allow you to create and schedule invoices to be sent out on particular dates. If you have clients you need to send invoices to, automate this.
Use Zapier: You can think of automating a lot of tasks. Use Zapier to see what other parts of your freelancing business you can automate.
Hire virtual assistants: For everything else that requires a lot more attention to detail and for harder tasks (like sending out outreach emails, sending out customized proposals, creating social media graphics, etc.) hire a virtual assistant.
How does your freelancing routine look like? What tips do you have for the troopers here for creating a productive routine that just works? Tell me in the comments below.
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