The Freelance Informer is run by freelancers so we know first-hand that the roller coaster ride of self-employment is as exhilarating as it is scary.
The past year, was the mother of all roller coasters; jam-packed with thrills and chills – from landing new clients to losing old ones. And for 3 million, no government support. As fellow freelancers, we wanted to share some New Year’s Resolutions that are actually achievable, good to live by and do not entail one ounce of calorie counting.
If you are reading this, then you have reason to celebrate. You survived the COVID pandemic of 2020 – either by contracting it and beating it or not contracting it at all. And several vaccines are already being administered.
Sometimes we have to consider the alternative to really see what we already have. If you woke up under a roof, in a bed with sheets. Be thankful. Someone less than a mile from your house may not even have that. They are homeless, hungry, scared and cold.
Be Proactive and Pivot
When we are faced with major setbacks, such as losing a contract or a job, we know in our hearts that a new job is not going to materialise if we use our waking hours commiserating or aimlessly scrolling on social media.
Give yourself a day to let any bad news soak in. Give yourself that. Then get cracking on finding a solution either with your client, agency or a new one the very next day. Of course, this situation does not look good from the onset, but it is the situation that you are in, so try your best to change it, for the better – for now.
The pandemic has by necessity initiated some clever career pivots and here are some for inspiration:
- Musicians turned into for-hire serenade or dementia therapy businesses (on and offline)
- Actors turned freelance voice-over artists for corporate clients
- Magicians created virtual family celebrations and entertainment
- Teachers and parents became online tutors
- Wedding photographers became personal branding image experts for Linkedin profiles
- Freelancers used lockdown to write how-to books
Outline what your ideal year would look like
Outline in a notebook or somewhere easily accessible, such as your mobile phone or laptop, the steps you will need to take to achieve your end goal. Even if you have one big goal, it will usually entail several steps to achieve it. That said, for every month of the year, you should action one objective or step that fits into the bigger puzzle of what your ideal year would look like.
Keep yourself accountable by scheduling your monthly steps into your calendar. If you are a visual learner, make a dream board of your ideal year by placing it on the fridge, in your home office or as your screen saver. At the end of each month, assess if you have seriously taken the steps to achieve your monthly target or achievement. And if you have managed to achieve your objective for that month, then tick it off. Or one better, reward yourself with a small treat.
Revamp your payment terms and rates
When dealing with existing and new clients do not shy away from knowing their payment terms upfront, having the direct contacts of accounts payable, and have those terms and your agreed rate in writing in an email and within your freelance contract. Anything over 30 days from the date of the invoice is a red flag if you are a one-person outfit. You should also be clear about what your expectations are for payment given that you are providing the services or product. Make sure these are clear and in writing with your first commission and on your invoices.
If a new client asks if you can lower your rate, then ask if they can pay you sooner as a compromise, weekly, biweekly, etc. Or have a higher rate and bill for less hours or days if it means you can still pay your bills and take on more work. It is not ideal but it can be a way to make ends meet and bag a new client in the process.
If you are working on a long-term project, as often is the case in construction or research, then ask for a deposit to build trust between you and the client. You want repeat business and they want quality, so it is a smart move.
Give your brand a makeover and win a new client
If you can afford to hire someone to restyle your website or profile page, then now is the time to do it. Freelancers on gig sites, such as Fiver and Upwork are plentiful. Or reach out on Twitter to @ExcludedUK and put out your request as these are the people that have been out of work and not able to access government funding.
Automate what you can
From your billing to timesheets, meeting notes to email marketing to social media posts, use technology to automate frequent processes so that you can spend more time on the important stuff: you, your family and friends.
Here are some apps that can help you deliver (even when you are sleeping):
Join or create a Freelancer Forum
Many freelancers feel they are always flying solo. That is why joining an online forum, a local group, Twitter or other Social Media group to get the latest tips and feedback from peers, whether in your industry or not, could open doors and also keep you sane when you have one of those crazy days.