As a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to streamline your workflow and make your time count, especially when you are just getting started. Time is money after all.
In the beginning, I was so slow and everything seemed to take forever. As I got more clients, I started to feel so disorganized at keeping everything in order. There were so many little details I needed to remember.
I’ve (luckily) become more organized and smarter about the way I do business, so that I can spend time creating and not on the ever-pervasive follow-up (which is still necessary as a freelancer). Here are 4 tips for new freelancers to help streamline your work, stay organized, and work efficiently.
Although I check my Google Analytics as well as my referrers in WordPress, I can’t keep track of everything. In order to stay on top of what is being posted about me or my blog, I created a Google Alert for my full name and my blog name. This is helpful, so you can keep track of what is being posted. Even if you don’t have a blog, this is useful for anyone to monitor their identity on the internet.
To get started, go to the Google Alerts page. Then enter the terms you want to be notified about. Then enter your email address and start getting alerts when those terms show up on a page.
All clients are different and expect something different from you. To stay organized, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my clients, how much they paid, due dates, how they prefer to pay, how they would like me to send an invoice, etc.
Instead of trying to remember how each client prefers something, I’ve just kept track of it in my spreadsheet. Some people are flexible with deadlines, while others have firm dates. Some people prefer to use PayPal, while others write checks. I need to keep track of these details, so I can follow-up and get paid and so that I have all the important details in front of me when I need them.
Goodness, how many emails went back and forth when I just started freelancing? I’d have a million questions and think of them at different times, resulting in a million different emails.
That’s annoying. Your clients are busy and so are you, so don’t waste anyone’s time. Ask important questions upfront. Here are questions I ask when taking on a new writing gig.
– How many articles are you looking for per month? What are the deadlines?
– Do you prefer to receive articles in a Word doc, Google Doc, or via WordPress?
– How many words are you looking for?
– Do you want me to pitch topics to you or just write what I want? Or do you have ideas in mind?
– What is your budget and how do you pay? PayPal or Check?
– How and when would you like me to send an invoice?
These are my standard questions, but there are other questions you should consider as well. Where will your writing end up? Who are you writing to — i.e. who is the audience? Do you need to source an image? Will you get a link to your site or just credit? These are also important things to consider when starting out.
This year was the first time in my life I owed money to Uncle Sam. Fun times. Right after that, I vowed to save 10% of my freelance income. Well, I hate to say it, but I was naive. I need to be saving about 30% to cover my butt from any crazy tax bills. I also need to start looking into paying taxes quarterly. Save yourself the trouble and just save more for taxes. If you don’t need it all, you can use it elsewhere later. It’s a good practice to get into.
These four tips have helped me streamline my work as a freelancer and get to the point when taking on a new client. It also puts my mind at ease, because I am empowered with information so I can do my job well.
I hope some of these tips are helpful for you, too! Feel free to use or modify as you see fit!