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Freelance Tips #3 and #4

September 21, 2011

“The Wealthy Freelancer” by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia is a valuable resource for all freelancers. The authors not only conduct an online training site for all freelancers, but they have founded International Freelancers Day, which is on this Friday, September 23. This all-day online conference is totally free for freelancers, but you must register on their site for access to all the conferences.

There are four top tips this resource has given me to help me on my freelance journey. If you missed the first two, you can click here to go to that post. As promised, here are two more useful tips:

  • Schedule Your Work and Focus on It (pages 164 to 177)

Probably the #1 reason you became your own boss was the flexibility: you can work whenever you want to. The #1 downfall to running your freelance business is you can work whenever you want to! Working at home is wonderful. I love sipping my coffee while wearing yoga pants with no makeup on and a ponytail (lovely image, I’m sure). But then I think, “I’ll just check my email … then click over to Facebook … well, better check Twitter this morning.” Before I know it, I’ve lost an hour of precious time that needed to be spent accomplishing a particular task. Checking email and all forms of Social Media are worthy, as well as necessary. But without focus, a freelancer’s day can be unproductive.

Steve Slaunwhite suggests using the “50-Minute Focus” to double your productivity. For just 50 minutes, remain totally focused on one thing (and only one thing). Don’t check email, take a break, or wander aimlessly around cyber space. Focus one on task for 50 minutes, and then take 10 to 20 minutes to refresh your mind, take a break, throw laundry in the dryer, and check email. Many freelancers (including myself) can be easily distracted. This 50-minute focus helps me accomplish more in a typical day.

  • Set Regular Business Hours (page 192)

The glory of being a freelancer is that you can work anytime you want or need to. This is great for a mom like me with young children. I am able to be present and engaged in their lives and fit my work around our family schedule. That means I work a lot of late nights and weekends. However, the trick is not to let clients know you work outside of typical business hours. Never schedule conference calls (unless absolutely necessary due to different time zones) or send emails outside of business hours. Once you do, you give the perception that you are “on” all the time, around the clock, at the client’s beck and call. Clients will begin to expect a response at all hours.

When I read “The Wealthy Freelancer,” I realized I struggled with this concept. I was doing exactly this! Since I do a lot of work on the weekends, I would email it to a particular client as soon as I completed each project so that it was crossed off my to-do list. What transpired was that this client sent me projects at night and over the weekend, as this client knew I was working. This client would send me as assignment on Saturday and expect it returned on Monday, which should be considered a “rush” job with an additional fee. The expectation had been set that I was available at night and weekends, after typical business hours.

After I read the tip “Train Clients to Respect Your Time” and set boundaries of my availability to clients, I was much happier and less stressed. I felt like my time was my own again. Even if I finish a project at night or on the weekend, I send it in a scheduled email via Microsoft Outlook to go out the next business day at 9 a.m. (go to “Options” and then “Delay Delivery” to schedule emails). I do not reply to client emails after 5 p.m. on weekdays or on the weekend. If I receive a project from a client after 5 p.m. on a weekday or on the weekend, I consider it received the next business day.

These tips have helped my freelance business become more successful and have allowed me to be a happier writer and editor.

If you are a freelancer (whether writer, editor, designer, photographer, consultant, or other) tell us your best tips to grow your own business.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 1:42 am

    I love the idea of even if you DO work on the weekends, don’t let them know you do. I love the idea of scheduling the email to send during regular working hours. I will remember these great tips. THANK YOU!!!

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