Freelancing sounds like the perfect life, right? You get to decide what work you do, who you work for, and when you work. But once you start, you realise it's not all fun and games. To make sure your experience goes smoothly, here are some top tips:
Look after Yourself
As everyone has surely told you already, freelancing, especially if you are sitting at home, requires you to be in the same space without active communication with others for much of your working day. Break this up by eating and sleeping well, taking regular exercise and regular breaks. If you find that you are trying to combat loneliness, find a hobby that involves socialising with other people. You could also organise to meet up with other freelancers for coffee or lunch, so you don’t go too crazy cooped up by yourself.
Have Things to look Forward to
Whether it’s a long-haul holiday, weekend break, or gig nights, plan time off to look forward to. Having times where you are not able to work allows you both to have fixed deadlines to work towards, which you are then more likely to meet, and the ability to switch off completely, leave your laptop and phone out of sight and recharge your batteries.
Enjoy the Busy Times & the not so Busy Times
As a freelancer, some times of the year will be more busy than others. Rather than fight it, plan for it and embrace it! Make sure that you have enough money in the bank for the tight times and don’t book holidays during the times when you know you’ll be exceptionally busy. When there’s little to do you can focus on doing things for yourself and getting your taxes and finances in order so that you are ready for the next manic work season.
Set Goals & Priorities
It’s difficult to set priorities when you work for yourself, but if you don’t have any you won’t work towards anything. Your goals and priorities will depend on your personal circumstances, however it may include working on certain types of projects, with certain clients, on long-term projects or a certain number over the course of the year. Make sure you review how you are getting on from time to time so that you reach your goals.
Get Out & About
Freelancing is not all about staying indoors, and luckily most freelancers can do some or all of their work away from home. Where do you like to work best? For some it’s at a shared office space, whilst for others it’s in a cafe or your local library. You might even want to mix it up a bit.
As well as working outdoors, remember to spend some time outdoors, getting some much-needed natural light and sun, whether it’s going for a walk, popping to the shops or part of your weekly exercise routine.
Build a Working Network
The most comfortable way to be a freelancer is to have a network of clients that you can rely on to work for. This might take a while to start with, however once you’ve formed a good relationship with a client, keep in constant touch, and make sure they know when you are looking for work. Also, try not to burn any bridges with anyone as you’ll find that the industry may be small and that people talk to one another. Once you’re out of favour at one company that might be it!
Set your Schedule
You may find that you work better in the mornings or the evenings, and as a freelancer it’s great that you have this choice of when to set your working hours. However, as being a freelancer is akin to procrastination, you may want to get your work schedule and to-do list down in advance. This will help you be more productive and efficient with your time, while a strict routine to follow will ensure that it’s not lunch time before you’ve even had the chance to turn on your laptop.