Freelancing is an exciting and rewarding way to make a living, combining freedom and flexibility with variety and the inspiration that comes from working with multiple clients.
But like any other job, it is easy to get stuck in a particular way of doing things. Even freelancers need to take stock regularly, and fine-tune their approach to managing and developing their business. Here are ten tips for rejuvenating your freelance strategy.
1. Plan ahead and stick to your schedule
Keep your diary up to date with jobs, commissions and deadlines - and block out as much time as you will need to complete them. Book regular weekly and/or monthly slots to address specific aspects of your business: finance and administration, marketing, pitching, researching new prospects, catching up with contacts, and developing new skills and specialisms.
2. Don't overstretch yourself
It's easy to say 'yes' to everything you are offered but if you take on too much, you will start to miss deadlines and cut corners, and your professional reputation will suffer. Assess potential jobs - and clients - on their merits. What will they bring to your portfolio? Do they make financial sense? How much flexibility will they demand, and can you deliver?
3. Write everything down
Ideas, telephone numbers, names, thoughts about work projects that occur to you in transit or before you go to sleep, headlines that grab your attention - it's all potential material. Act on your notes once a week, whether it’s calling a new contact, pitching a potential new client for business or adding value to an existing client relationship.
4. Keep on top of your emails
Don't let them become a drain on your productive time. Schedule pit-stops during the day when you will reply, send your own and delete everything that isn't relevant from your in-tray.
5. Develop a service portfolio
Your 'product' should reflect the full range of your skills and the fruits of your own market research. Many freelance journalists, for example, supplement their reporting with copywriting and press-release writing for corporate clients. When one market goes through a quiet patch, another will usually be busy. Which services could boost your flexibility?
6. Build a stable of regular clients
It's great to have a 'flagship' client who accounts for a major chunk of your revenue, as well as a selection of other frequent customers. But avoid becoming too dependent on one relationship. Set yourself a target for recruiting new clients; one a month is a good starting point.
7. Negotiate the best rate
Know your own worth and sticking point, and the potential value of the contract or job to you - not just in financial terms but also in what it will add to your CV, testimonials, cuttings and references.
8. Keep on top of your accounts
If you complete your records weekly or monthly, the prospect of filling in a tax return needn't loom threateningly on the horizon every year, adding to your stress and distracting you from your work. If you lack discipline, use a recommended accountant.
Get out and see people - still the best way to make new contacts, and meet potential clients, sources and other freelancers who might have work to share or outsource. Use social media: Linked-in for professional networking and Twitter for raising your profile, following clients (current and future possibilities) and researching your market. Make it as easy as possible for customers to find you. If you use Facebook socially, consider having a separate professional page where you can post work samples, links and references.
10. Keep developing your skills
A training course can be a great introduction to a new revenue stream. It can also give you new ideas if you are stuck in a particular approach to your work. And being prepared to invest in your own development is a great way to show clients that you're up to date with the latest thinking, techniques and tools. If you only write news articles, maybe you could learn to repurpose some of the material into a feature, and double your income from the same material.
After your course we won't leave you hanging. If you forget something you covered, call us and one of our expert trainers will get you back up and running.
At the end of the course you'll be provided with comprehensive course notes to use when you get back to the office. You also receive a certificate of attendence.
Skills videos, tutorials and articles created by our expert trainers are regularly posted on our site. These will keep you inspired and help polish your skills.
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