Deciding to become a freelancer can be the most exciting decision you might ever make in your life. But it can also be the scariest. Why?
It's scary and exciting because being a freelancer gives you the power to decide over your workload, your clients, the projects you want to take on, and so on.
At the same time, this also means that there is no monthly salary coming directly into your account. You will earn proportionally to how much you want to work per month, how much marketing you do, and how well-structured you are. With this lifestyle, you’ll have great freedom which equals great responsibility.
Here are the top six things to start as you become a freelancer.
1. Know your finances (budgeting)
Numbers may not always be your best friend. And at times you may not have a great overview of your account. You hope things will go well and you'll have enough to pay your bills and have some fun.
But if you are a freelancer, you can't live on the hopes that your salary will cover your living. You need to know each month exactly what you need in order to cover your expenses, how much you need to put aside for taxes, for sick days and holidays, and add something to your savings account. It adds up, right?
You are your boss, your employee, your everything. And you need to ensure that you're taking care of your current and future needs.
Each month, set aside some time to go through your accounts. Do you know how much you need to cover your expenses? Do you put money aside for your taxes?Snapshot of a budget with a column for a spending plan (SP) to help you plan the month and another to track your actual spending.
**Top tip: **If you want to get extra-specific, create a separate account where you pay yourself a salary from the main account where your clients pay you. From this account pay all your bills, etc. Create a savings pot for your holidays and sick days and how you want to invest your additional savings (like a pension account!).
2. Know how you spend your time
As freelancers, we tend to think that we have the most incredible level of freedom. And this is right. But freelancers can make the mistake of using that freedom to work more than needed. Make sure that you have firm boundaries around your time spent at work.
Working from home or freelancing means that the boundaries are slightly blurred and that you sometimes step into the personal time zone with your work. Knowing when you start and when you stop working is empowering. Time management is absolutely essential.
You can choose how many hours you want to work daily and plan accordingly. You don't have to let the project that just came your way take over your days. Even in that case, you can still have a balanced life where personal interests are cultivated.
Example of a weekly timesheet.
Pro tip: Create a balance sheet at the beginning of the week to find out how many hours you want to spend in client work, nurturing relationships, admin, marketing yourself, creating a new client base, maintaining legal docs, etc.
3. Write down your top three at the end of the day
Freelancing means that we have plenty of flexibility during our day. For us to be able to be productive and manage our time best, we need to make sure we know what our priorities are.
Based on how you want to spend your time (from point two above!), list your priorities. At the end of the day, write down a list of the top three things you need to accomplish the day after.
If you put your priorities down on paper, you'll be more likely to accomplish those the next day, even if you don't want to.
**Pro Tip: **You can designate each day of the week to a specific task. You could do the following:
4.Create a strong support network around you
In starting your career as a freelancer, you'll discover that there's no one around to bounce ideas with. You may find that your imagination and brainstorming are not as strong as when meeting with your team.
I'd strongly encourage you to create a strong support network. Find your peers and create a relationship with them. They will help stay updated with everything that happens in your industry and bounce ideas with.
**Top tip: **Use tools like Linkedin or lunch club to develop professional relationships. Go to events that are related to your industry or that of your client. Learn what your client's struggles are and how you can meet their needs. You could also find an action partner for yourself and share your goals with them.
5. Become accountable for your freelancing life
Productivity can be hard to master 100% of the time. And there will always be some tasks that you resist doing. Having an "accountability buddy" might be the one single thing that will shift your freelancing career.
When we work for ourselves, we might have the freedom of structuring our time. But we might also procrastinate more and push back more on the things we don't want to do. An accountability buddy can be a great person with whom to share the goals you want to reach and keep you accountable.
Pro tip: Set up a weekly call with your accountability buddy. In this 20 min call, take turns on each of the following steps:
Starting or ending the week with this call will help you focus and achieve more during your week. Try it and let me know how it goes.
6. Know when to ask for help
Freelancing is a rollercoaster. Sometimes it's thrilling to land new customers. And sometimes it's incredibly stressful trying to meet overlapping deadlines. Hopefully, if you follow many of the points above, you should be well-equipped to take on a new freelancing career.
But there are moments where everyone struggles! So you should always know that you can reach out for help both in your network and with trained professionals if you need additional or specific help.
If you need a productivity coach to boost your freelancing life, don't hesitate to get in touch!
Sign up here if you want the Freelancer’s Cheat Sheet. You will also find a weekly planner to help you spread your week evenly across all areas of your life/ freelancing activities.
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