If you’re a freelancer then you know just how hard it can sometimes get. The life of a freelancer is filled with highs and lows and we are very much prone to mood swings and negativity. As a freelancer, you are all on your own. It is your duty to find new work, deal with the clients, regulate your schedule, and take care of all the technical stuff. Despite all that, we also know just how liberating and exciting freelancing can be. It is both the blessing and the curse, and that usually depends on our approach. I’ve personally experienced both sides of it and I’ve learned how to make things easier for me. Here are eight things that will make your freelance life way easier.
1. High-Quality Equipment
There is nothing worse than being stuck with a malfunctioning piece of equipment right in the middle of a project. There’s really nothing you can do at that point but postpone the work until you get it fixed. I’m talking about your computer, laptop, mac, phone, or whatever it is that you’re using to get the job done.
And even if your equipment works, it can still be slow or glitchy causing you to lose both time and patience when you should be focusing on the task. That’s why it’s essential to invest in high-quality equipment, whether that be your laptop, phone, or your car. It may cost more in the short term but it will surely benefit you in the long run.
Carrying high-quality equipment enables you to work more efficiently by minimizing downtime and you don’t have to worry about replacing it for years to come. With the best equipment on your hands, you can focus on delivering your best work.
2. Productivity Tools
There is no doubt about it that freelancing gives you freedom and flexibility to choose your client and working hours, but it is also a truth that it takes a lot of self-motivation and dedication to be successful as a freelancer. You must stay productive every day because if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
Fortunately, there are some tools that help you stay focused and organized on the job and they’re all field-tested. Tools like Toggl help you track time, you can use Evernote to take notes, Todoist for management, Trello for project management, Omnifocus for keeping track of personal and professional projects, and there’s a lot more. There are many other options out there, so I suggest you figure out what exactly is draining your time and then start with that. A simple Google search will do the trick.
Speaking of tools, some of my favorites are used for invoicing and contracts in general. Some other things you can do to stay productive apart from using tools include:
Set a Schedule
As a freelancer, you must set a daily schedule to keep yourself organized. Each morning, you can spend about half an hour to plan your day. You can set a specific time for updating your social media channels, responding to emails, and making phone calls. Don’t forget that staying organized is one of the traits of a successful freelancer.
Get an Early Start
Although you can choose to work at any time, waking up early has its own benefits. Numerous studies have correlated waking up early with improved productivity. According to Christoph Randler (Biologist at Harvard), early risers are more proactive.
Give Yourself Breaks
Most freelancers make this mistake. They work continuously thinking that it will increase their productivity, but on the contrary, it just increases their stress. You should give yourself rest a few minutes after every few hours of working.
Make Your Workplace More Functional
Even small changes to your workplace environment can make a big difference. Try to establish a workplace that has
- Exposure to sunlight
- Air purifying plants
- Temperature setting at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since the majority of freelancers work from home, they don’t prefer to put on professional clothing. However, according to Dr. Karen Pine (a professor at the University of Hertfordshire), when we wear a particular type of attire, we spontaneously adopt the characteristics associated with that attire, whether it’s relaxing casual wear or professional attire.
3. Software Invoicing
It can be hard to manage billing as a freelancer. If you have a lot of clients on your hands, you know how hard it can be to keep track of payments. That’s why I prefer to use a 3rd party invoicing tool, such as the one offered by Due. Such tools will help you track all of your payments and you can spend your time making money rather than collecting it. It will save you time but also help you get paid faster.
Check out some invoicing tips below to get paid faster.
- Get adequate information about your clients before you start working with them. Check out their payment history to find out if past freelancers are complaining about them.
- You may ask for 30 to 50% of the payment in advance. This upfront deposit will reduce the risk of any fraud.
- As mentioned above, get a robust invoicing tool to automate the invoicing process. It will help you send invoices right away to your clients.
- Send your invoice to the right person who is in charge of making payments.
- Don’t forget to add the following information to your invoice to ensure the smooth payment.
- Your name
- Name and address of your business
- Your local phone number and email ID
- Your tax ID
- Always be polite to your clients. Get to know the name of the manager handling payments and get in touch with them.
- If you notice your client is asking for work out of the project scope, notify them straight away. It will help you avoid sending a surprise invoice.
- If you get a big project, you may consider giving 5 to 10% discounts for early payments.
If you’re like me, someone who struggles with the technical side of freelancing, I would advise you to outsource as much of it as possible. And the same goes for things like contracts.
Contract drafting is somewhat similar to invoicing, and a lot of freelancers struggle with it. Let’s be clear here, freelancers absolutely need contracts but there’s no need to overcomplicate it. As a freelancer, you can draft professional contracts using online tools like Bonsai, which will save you a lot of time and money. These tools enable you to properly manage and enforce your contracts, minus the complications of doing it all manually.
Here are some tips for writing a professional freelance contract.
- Use the full name of both parties throughout the contract. If your name is William Smith, don’t use W. Smith. Similarly, use the full name of companies.
- Your contract must clearly mention all the payment-related information such as payment terms, payment methods, work deadlines, etc.
- Write the total amount to be paid in cleartext. Also, mention how you expect to be paid. You might earn a bit extra by getting paid by the hour. However, for that, you must have a robust tracking system to log your hours.
5. Public WiFi Networks
Most freelancers prefer to work in a quiet home office. However, it’s not always possible to work in perfect conditions, which is why freelancers should utilize public internet to its maximum. Public places like coffee shops or hotel lounges are still great for freelancers and they can make your life a lot easier by enabling you to get the work done in time. In fact, some freelancers actually prefer to work in public spaces with good WiFi signals.
Utilizing public WiFI can save you a lot of time, but there are still some dangers that come with it. Public WiFi networks are rather weak when it comes to security, which is why you should consider using a VPN service to keep your connection secure. Safety first, as always.
A VPN or virtual private network encrypts your internet traffic and safeguards your online identity. It redirects your internet connection via a remote server operated by your VPN provider; therefore, your actual IP address never gets exposed to hackers and on public WiFi.
Here are some other tips to keep your data safe while working on Public Wi-Fi.
- Before you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, read the network name carefully. To be sure, ask the staff if the link is valid. As cyber criminals often set up fake networks, verifying the network name will help you avoid becoming a victim.
- In case you don’t have access to a VPN, try not to visit websites that are not encrypted. Don’t forget to check HTTPS at the beginning of a website address. Such websites are encrypted and, therefore, safe from tampering.
- Use a firewall to add an extra layer of security. Although it won’t give you complete protection, it can prevent unauthorized access to your system. For those who don’t know, a firewall serves as a shield to keep a computer system protected from data-based malware threats.
- You can also use antivirus to detect Malware and other viruses when using public Wi-Fi.
6. Higher Rates
If there’s a single thing that can make your freelance life easier then it has to be extra money. Most of us started out working for little more than pennies, and you know how hard it was to make a living doing that. If you want to make your freelance life easier then you have to increase your rates. The good thing is that it’s almost always possible to do so.
Setting a higher rate can help you with so many things, and as I already mentioned earlier, this extra money will allow you to invest in better equipment and better tools. We could all use some extra cash to invest in our business, health, and relationships. Lastly, the extra money will help you minimize stress and maintain a positive attitude towards your freelance life.
7. Avoid Distraction
Distraction is one of the major barriers to any progress. No matter whether you’re working from your home or your favorite local coffee shop, you can run into a wide range of distractions when working on the web. When you get distracted, it not only breaks your workflow, but it also makes it difficult for you to complete your projects on time.
To conquer the distraction, you need to take strict actions. Below are a few things you can do to prevent distractions successfully.
Establish a Productive Work Environment
To avoid distraction, the very first thing you need to do is make your workplace compatible with freelancing. If you work from home, look for a place that is free from all kinds of noises.
Find out a place where natural light has good access. According to research, workers who’re exposed to sunlight are more productive than those who work under artificial light all day. Also, have some plants in your workplace to reduce stress and prevent exhaustion.
Invest in Distraction Software and Apps
There are a lot of applications out there that can help you prevent distractions. To improve your focus, you can use a time tracking tool along with other concentration tools such as Escape, RescueTime, etc. Also, make some rules and regulations to stay away from distractions.
8. Positive Attitude
Last but not the least, try to stay positive. As you already know, the freelance life is full of ups and downs and you will experience negative emotions from time to time. Regardless of what happens during your journey, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. In the end, it’s all up to you and you can only fail if you choose to give up during the bad times. I went through a lot of bad situations during my career and I’ve managed to overcome them solely thanks to my positive attitude.
Even though it can sometimes be hard, freelance life is still awesome and we can always make it easier for us. You can start today by incorporating some of the things I talked about. Keep grinding and don’t stop until you’ve built a perfect life for yourself.