Getting started freelancing? Don’t go it alone! Read my top 10 freelancing tips to do what you love, better.
I’ve been freelancing for quite a while now. And I’m the first to shout out from the freelancing soapbox. After all, it can be fantastic. You have the freedom to choose your own clients and projects. You’ll be able to determine your own flexible work times and routines. And you can (hopefully) make your own money (rather than bringing in those dollars for a big corporate!).
But it also brings its own set of challenges. You might not have a boss anymore, but you might have 20 clients who are like little bosses in their own right. You might have the freedom to choose your schedule, but if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
But regardless of the challenges, I still love the freelancing life and I wanted to share the best ways to make this workable for you. So I’ve reach out to my networks to ask some star freelancers (and some people that support freelancers) for their top freelance tips to share with you.
Top 10 Freelancing Tips
In this article:
- Know that half your time can be spent acquiring work
- Engage online to form connections
- Change your location
- Invest in a timesaving hosting platform
- Get your pricing right
- Be authentic
- Stand out from the crowd
- Outsource to increase your own efficiencies
- Hire a bookkeeper
- Save your holiday money
Tip 1: Know that half your time can be spent acquiring work – Sera Medera
Freelancing sounds like a work utopia, where our days are spent working only on projects we have chosen. But Sera reminds us that half your time can actually be spent finding work, particularly in the early days.
Sera Medera’s years of freelance writing in the medical cannabis sphere, led her to study a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in naturopathy. Sara then moved away from freelancing when she created a product-based business, medera.com.au, an online apothecary for herbal, plant-based skincare and haircare. Sara’s years of freelancing helped her realise how she wanted to spend her time at work, that suited her best.
Tip 2: Engage online to form connections – Polina Stolyarov
Freelancing can be a solo existence. Engaging with and meeting people online can help you form connections, which build networks, which in turn can lead to unexpected opportunities. Polina Stolyarova, freelancer extraordinaire, recommends building these online connections as much as you can, particularly as they can lead to work opportunities.
Tip 3: Change your location – Rose Spagnolo
Working solo is great but it can also be lonely. Coffee-shops, libraries and the great outdoors can be perfect if you are feeling a little stale and needing the buzz of human contact. To take it one step further, if you need somewhere to meet with clients, arrange product launches or host the occasional team meeting, hiring a short-term space could be the answer.
Rose Spagnolo has created the studio she searched for as a freelancer. In House Studio is in inner-west Sydney and provides a professional, short-term space available for flexible hire to meet your own and your clients’ needs. It’s a fabulous way to get things done, on your own, but in the company of other amazing people.
Tip 4: Invest in a timesaving hosting platform – Pippa Keane
Pippa Keane from Lucky Cat Studio is a web designer and an advocate for the time-savings you can achieve through a great CMS/automation platform. One platform is Dubsado, which Pippa says saves time with repetitive emails, invoicing and also gives your clients a professional onboarding experience. All of this frees up your headspace and time for your own creative work.
Tip 5: Get your pricing right – Justine McLean
Getting your pricing right is crucial for freelancers. You must factor in the cost of doing business, set aside money to cover your compliance, such as GST and PAYG and pay yourself a wage, all while actually doing the work.
Justine McLean from Flossi is a profit-focussed mentor and business coach, who helps women in business reduce their overwhelm, take control of their expenses, charge what they’re worth and make more money. She understands how important it is to feel like you’re earning what you’re worth. And There’s nothing more discouraging for a freelancer than putting in hours on a project and getting paid for minutes (trust me, I know).
Tip 6: Be authentic – Samantha Trimble
Word-of-mouth is gold for freelancers. Samantha Trimble from Total HR Services knows the importance of being authentic and honest about what you do, and only accepting work that fits your speciality. Freelancing is rewarding but it’s also hard, consistent work that needs ongoing self-motivation. Great professional and personal satisfaction comes from creating work and connecting with people that aligns with your authentic self.
Tip 7: Stand out from the crowd – Krystal Stephens
Krystal Stephens owns Building Business Today, a freelance platform created to make outsourcing easier and help small businesses grow. Krystal’s freelancing tip for winning work in a crowded field is to have a stand-out and memorable proposal. Create a lasting impression when it comes to awarding the contract and for any future work that may arise.
My Own Freelancing Tips
As a freelancer myself, I’ve been through all the ups and downs. So I’ve got a few top freelancing tips of my own.
Tip 8. Outsource to increase your own efficiencies
When you freelance, you are a one-person professional-accounting-marketing-HR-admin-SEO band. There can be way too many hats for you to wear, especially when you factor in doing the actual work, growing your business and having some semblance of a family or personal life. (Did you laugh?)
Outsourcing tasks that are not in your area of expertise helps to increase your own productivity by focussing on what you do best. It also increases your own professional satisfaction and connects you with a team of other freelancers doing what they do best, which benefits all of us.
I am the first to admit that this feels risky. It’s hard to allocate the resources (money!) when you’re still trying to build. But I promise, hand to my heart, that this is the best way to grow your business. Do what you’re good at, and let someone else do what you’re not.
Tip 9. Hire a bookkeeper
This pretty much flows on from tip 8, but as soon as you’re financially able to, I recommend hiring a bookkeeper. It has the dual benefits of helping you to both save money and make money. The time efficiencies allow you to focus on your business, safe in the knowledge that invoices will be issued and paid, cash is flowing, your tax is taken care of and your accounts are in order. Plus you’ll get a much better grip on your cash flow, your income projections and where you’re spending your money.
When this doesn’t apply – if you’re a freelancing bookkeeper, you’re welcome to keep doing this yourself!
Tip 10: Save your holiday money
Yes, holiday money! A little forward planning is essential so you can take a holiday and be paid while you’re not working.
This is one of my favourite freelancing tips because I definitely learned this lesson the hard way. In fact, I spent years ‘working through’ holidays so that I could actually afford to be on one. The better way is just to save up a little each week and pop it away in a separate account. Then you can ensure that your income will remain consistent while you’re away. And you can enjoy your holiday with all that money angst!
Be aware of when your quiet times of year are, or when something is coming up in the calendar. Let your clients know you will be away and be clear in your finish and return dates, and what contact (if any) they can expect while you are on holiday.
And for the financial side of things, talk to your bookkeeper about the best way to manage this for you. You may like to create a ‘holiday’ account and automatically direct money to it, to pay yourself while you take a break. This account could also be used to give yourself annual leave and sick leave and bring peace of mind as you know it’s steadily growing through the year.
Whether you’re at the start or well into your freelancing life, I hope these freelancing tips have given you some food for thought.