Image Source: Pexels
The freelance business is booming. As of 2019, there were 57 million Americans in freelance positions — up from 53 million in 2014 — and all signs indicate that most are none too keen on transitioning back to their “traditional” roles. There’s a chance you count yourself among that number, and if you’re new, you might well be wondering how you can maximize your earning potential in the highly competitive world of freelancing.
You see, it’s not just enough to get by when freelancing is your main source of income. To earn worthwhile money (and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it), you’re going to need to learn how to thrive. The following tips should help you chart a course to success, providing you with insight on how to juggle all the responsibilities that come with being a freelancer.
Start With What You Know
First things first, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t leading yourself down the garden path with your freelancing career. When you’re starting out, you should start with something that you know to avoid getting overwhelmed. This isn’t to say that you can’t branch out down the line, mind you.
When you’ve established yourself, feel free to start expanding the fields in which you freelance. In the beginning, however, stick to your specialty so that you can get the most done.
Stamp Out Distractions
For many freelancers, procrastination and a lack of focus hinder their ability to give it their all. Thankfully, there are simple techniques that you can use to break free when procrastination has you under its spell. It all starts with understanding the root causes of your distractions.
Is it a constant urge to check social media that’s slowing your progress to a crawl? Perhaps your energy is low, and you’re having trouble finding the motivation to give yourself that push you need to get started. Alternatively, you might be experiencing a dearth of self-confidence, and as a result, you fear your work and the possibility of failure.
Once you understand what’s causing you to procrastinate, however, the remedy is generally a few quick adjustments to your usual way of working. If it’s just distractions on the computer that are getting in your way, you can counter those with software locks that prevent you from using certain functions on your computer or the internet for a set amount of time.
Other blocks to your progress may require you to find some external motivation or employ some focus-building techniques to get yourself back on track. Regardless, as long as you can be honest with yourself and pinpoint the causes of your procrastination, you can devise a solution to work past them and get back to being productive.
Create the Ideal Work Environment
As a corollary to eliminating distractions, you’ll also want to fine-tune your freelance workspace so that it is as conducive to your focus as possible. Crafting the ideal work environment allows you to play to your sensibilities to maximize performance.
For example, say you’re a nature lover who feels most at peace in the great outdoors. You might try constructing a combination patio-office that allows you to make the best of the indoors and outdoors. This is just one example, of course, but you can use your tastes to inform design decisions that will make your workplace just right for you.
While you’re devising your perfect office, you’ll also want to make certain you’ve supplied it with all the equipment you’ll need to get the job done. Ask yourself what your freelance work will require in terms of computer hardware, software, tools, and anything that should enable you to plan and outfit your workspace accordingly.
Finally, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve optimized your organizational skills and workload scheduling to maximize what you’re able to achieve. If you’re still tracking your assignments on a scratch pad, for instance, you may want to consider joining us in the 21st Century.
Digital tools like online whiteboards allow you to get a top-down view of everything — from pitches awaiting responses to current jobs you’re working on.
Having that sort of clarity about what needs to get done and what’s coming down your pipeline almost makes organizing it all trivial. Nevertheless, you’ll want to couple your technological advantages with some practical, old-school advice for balancing a heavy workload:
● Break giant workloads into smaller chunks.
● Structure smaller tasks to optimize your workflow.
● Start by tackling your most time-consuming tasks first, as these are usually your biggest moneymakers. Follow up with smaller tasks once you have more time.
● Don’t fall into the trap of trying to multitask. It will just sap your attention and you’ll end up dropping the ball on everything. Sure, there will be times where your attention gets pulled away because of something urgent, but as a rule, limit multitasking whenever possible.
Combined, these elements should help you get a handle on your work, and even help you slice through a heavy backlog. Combine these with work tricks like the 20-20-20 rule to keep yourself fresh and keep your productivity high throughout the workday.
As a freelancer, you’re going to (ideally) have a lot of work coming your way. It may seem overwhelming at first, but with this combination of tools and techniques, you can get that heavy workload under control and push your productivity to its zenith.
Remember to focus, set your workspace up to limit distractions, and keep yourself organized to give yourself the best chance possible at success.