How to Take Charge of Your Freelance Business to Stay Motivated
Working freelance is a liberating and rewarding experience. That’s because of the perks like having the ability to work where and when we want. However, freelancers also struggle with motivation throughout their careers. Unlike a traditional job, they don’t have to be at work at a certain time. They can take breaks whenever they want. And, they can take-off for the day if they want to or need to for an appointment — or whatever. You need to take charge of your freelance business.
Of course, taking off too often is not good for business. That’s why freelancers need to take charge of their business in order to stay motivated. And, that can be accomplished by following these twelve tips.
Remember why you became a freelancer.
Sure. Some freelancers may have started their business because of the money. But, that’s often not the case.
Most of us have left the traditional workplace because we wanted flexible schedules. Others prefered to have control over their work. While some didn’t want to let that talents go to waste.
Before you can take charge of your freelance business, you should first remember why you became a freelancer in the first place. It’s going to pick you up when you feel motivation dropping. More importantly, it will guide in you everything from building your brand, creating quality work, and how to select clients.
Set income goals.
The only way to know if you’re succeeding is by knowing exactly what you need to achieve. That’s why you should be constantly setting income goals and then monitoring your progress towards them. Sounds simple, but it’s actually an effective way to stay motivated.
When setting income goals, however, make sure that they’re realistic and attainable. For example, if you plan to earn $1 million in the first month of your freelance career then you can bet that you’ll fail to meet that goal. As a result, you’ll become demotivated. Realize that the freelance business is generally a slow and steady upwards trail.
This can be especially true for freelancers who have an income roller-coaster. Then your graph or line may not go steadily up. To combat this, you need to change your money mindset and stop being afraid of asking for more money. Doing so will make it much easier to achieve any financial goals you’ve set.
Wake up early and dress for success.
Every freelancer has heard this advice before. But, there’s a reason for it. It’s one of the most effective ways to stay motivated.
Think about it. If you sleep-in until noon and roam around your house in your PJ’s all day, do you really think you’re going to be productive? Of course not.
But, don’t just take my word for it.
A study by German biologist Christoph Randler found that morning people are actually more proactive than night owls. For me, I attest to this. That’s why I’m ready to start work at 8 a.m.
But, waking-up early is just one part of the equation. Even though it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas all day, you also need to get dressed.
“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment,” says Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and fashion psychologist.
“A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
Ditch the negatives.
“To succeed at anything, you have to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to negativities,” writes freelancer and consultant Deji Atoyebi. “In your daily life you may experience situations that might force you to re-think your status as a freelancer. In fact, you may be nudged into taking to heart a destructive criticism and ditching your freelance career.”
“The best way to stay focused is to such shun undue negativities because they really don’t matter. Keep your eyes on the prize.”
This may take a little discipline, but you need to get off social media, your phone, and the Internet. You also need to stop responding to every and every notification. And, make sure that you always finish the most important task first.
Thankfully, there are more than enough apps that can block distracting websites or notifications. You can also try out time management strategies like not allowing your family to contact you unless it’s an emergency, sticking to a schedule, and setting-up day specific duties.
Establish lifestyle goals.
Always remember this; There’s more to freelancing than just money. You also have a life to live. That’s why it’s imperative that you set lifestyle goals.
These personalized goals can be either short and long term. In fact, they can be a blend of both.
For example, if you want to spend every morning sipping on your coffee while staring at the beach, then that’s probably a long term goal. In the short term, focus on goals like sitting outside for an hour a day or going to the beach once a week.
During the summer, this is what I do. If I know that I have a beach day every week, then it keeps me motivated to complete all my other work so that I can take a day off. And, as an added perk, it keeps me fresh and energized since I’m not burnt out.
Use flexibility to your advantage.
The best thing about being a freelancer is having flexibility. Even though you should wake-up early, if you’re a night owl, then you could create a schedule around the hours you’re most productive. If need to take an hour break to refocus, you can make that call.
Simply put, you have to freedom to play by your own rules. Don’t be afraid to use that to your advantage when you’re not feeling all that motivated.
Give yourself a break.
Typically, freelancers are happier than traditional employees. And, if you ask any of us, we’ll proudly state how awesome being a freelancer is.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park. Freelancing can still get intense and stressful. That’s because on top of meeting deadlines and communicating with clients, we also have to run a business. That means we’re also handling administrative and marketing tasks.
And, as if that weren’t enough, we’re always on the clock. There have been numerous times when I’m out of town and get bombarded with emails from clients. Even though they knew I wasn’t around, they still had a question or concern that wanted addressed immediately.
Suffice it to say, you need to give yourself a break if you want to remain motivated. For me, that means shutting down for the weekend. I may respond to an email here or there or work on a project if I feel behind, but most weekends I’m not working.
Additionally, you also need to take time to completely step away from your business for more than a weekend. I know when I’m starting to drag, I plan a little getaway — even if it’s just a homecation. It recharges the batteries so that I can get back to work at full capacity.
Create a dedicated workplace.
Working on your couch may sound like a good idea. But, in reality, it’s not exactly the most productive spot in your home. Instead of working, you’ll be more likely to take a nap or get sucked into watching the TV.
Every successful freelancer has a dedicated workplace that is both inspiring and free of distractions. This could be at the dining room table or a proper home office. As long as it’s quiet, bright, and cheerful, having this dedicated workplace ensures that you’ll stay motivated and productive.
Get out of the house.
Even if you have an amazing home office, being confined to your house 24/7 can make you a bit nutty. After all, you’re not in a prison. So get out of the house every now and then.
Whether if it’s working once a week at a coffee shop or going to the gym daily, the change of scenery is good for you both mentally and physically.
When starting out as a freelancer it’s acceptable to take any gig. It helps you develop you skills and can open new business growth opportunities. But, if you’ve been freelancing for several years, and are still accepting gigs on Fiverr, then something’s wrong.
You probably haven’t been taking the time to learn new things that can take your business to the next level. For example, learning some basic marketing techniques can help drastically improve your business so that you’re not just relying on Fiverr.
Spend around an hour each day learning something new that can help your freelance business or enhance your skills. This could be reading a book, keeping up with the latest industry trends, or taking an online course.
Take charge of your freelance business by setting boundaries.
Finally, make sure that you establish boundaries. For instance, if you have working hours, then stick to those hours. Personally, I shutdown my phone at 6 p.m. so that I’m not disturbed while eating dinner with my family. I then quickly check my messages an hour before bed to make sure there aren’t any emergencies.
Setting boundaries also means learning to say “no.”
Let’s say that you’re already working 10 hours a day and another client asks you to take on a new project. Do you really think that you’ll have the time and motivation to take-on this additionally work?
It can be tough to tell a client that you currently don’t have the availability, but it’s in the interest of both parties. You don’t get burned out and the client doesn’t receive half-hearted work.
To be honest, I’ve found that most clients will wait until you have availability if you’ve been delivering quality work. If they need work immediately, you can always refer them to another freelancer.