Execute and Optimize


Execute and Optimize

14. How To Do Awesome Work

Being a freelancer means you have to constantly be on your A-game. It’s a career in which you have to constantly be working hard to help retain the clients you have, whilst securing new leads for any future work. The work you provide as a freelancer is important because when you’re selected by a business or individual, they’re expecting value for money. Here are some helpful tips for doing awesome work as a freelancer.

Remember every client is different

Regardless of what you do as a freelancer, remember that every client or customer is different. With that said, you might need to focus on offering a tailored experience for each and every person or company that pays for your services or products. By giving them the best experience first-time around, you better your chances of them coming back.

That’s what most businesses and freelancers will want when it comes to customers - repetition.

Don’t get comfortable with your best

As a freelancer, your work and effort is naturally set at a higher expectation and standard than those employed within a company. So with that in mind, being comfortable or putting yourself into a position where you’re not pushing or challenging yourself is risky.

Always look to see what you can do better and how you can make your services or products better than they are already. There’s always room for improvement because nothing is ever perfect!

Stay organized

When it comes to freelancing, staying organized is key. Why? Well because there’s a lot of elements to juggle that aren’t typical of someone who works full-time in a company. Not only are you managing yourself but you’re effectively running a business. If you work with clients, then you might have multiple clients on your rosta and so that can prove quite challenging to manage.

If it’s chaos, then that’s only going to have a knock-on effect with everything else. Try to find things that help whether it be using an online tool or software to structure your day a bit more efficiently.

Try not to be driven by money

It’s very easy to see the dollar signs and get sucked into that mindset of everything you do as a freelancer, being about money. That’s definitely not the case and if you do have that mindset, then it could certainly end up hindering your efforts to be more successful with your work.

There are going to be times where you don’t earn a lot of money and times where you will. Focus on nurturing leads and creating those incredible customer experiences that are going to bring them back again and again. That’s where the money lies and that’s where progression and success can also be made.

Doing freelance awesome work takes time and growth is part of that work. As mentioned above, try not to get comfortable or set in your ways. Challenge yourself as a freelancer and always strive to do better in everything that you’re doing, day in and day out.

15. How To Manage Problems

80% of freelancers are happier than people working the traditional 9-5. What’s not to love? But, like any career, there are a few common issues, normally around clients. Luckily, we have some advice on how to manage these client freelance problems like a pro.

The Client Is Unhappy With Your Work

You’re getting ready to invoice your client, and they turn around and say they’re unhappy with your work. How do you handle this?

  • For future projects, ask for regular feedback and start doing this early.
  • Acknowledge their disappointment. You don’t have to agree! 
  • Open up a dialogue on how to avoid this in future.
  • Offer a solution - maybe a partial refund or a little bit of extra time on another project.
  • But, be careful. Some clients could abuse this and expect freebies. Stand your ground! 

The Client Takes Ages To Pay, Or Doesn’t Pay On Time

There’s always that one client that just doesn’t want to pay out. Here’s a few ways to reduce risk for your business:

  • Reduce risk by arranging staggered payments for large projects, with a little bit up front. 
  • When a client is delayed in paying, send them a gentle reminder. They might be busy.
  • If they don’t respond, escalate it to the person paying the bill with the client on cc.
  • Call them - don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. 
  • Add a late fee to your invoice, and be prepared to waive it once the person pays.
  • If they still don’t pay? You could hire a lawyer - especially for large fees.

The Client Watches You Like A Hawk

They ask for status updates every day, they look at costing with a magnifying glass and set you impossible tasks and deadlines. You could manage them by:

  • Understanding them. Did a previous freelancer not deliver in the past?
  • Beat them to it - send them daily/ weekly updates so they know what’s happening.
  • Got a constantly changing priority list? Ask them what their top priority is.
  • Be clear on when you can deliver projects. Show them there is a cost to micromanaging.
  • Be super-detailed in your invoicing for new clients.

The Client Adds More Work, And The Project Scope Changes

Now extra work is great, right? But how do you avoid project creep? You can handle this by:

  • Charging an hourly rate, and updating the clients regularly on hours worked.
  • Take the extra work and start a good relationship with the client. 
  • Avoid being too strict with boundary setting - you can be firmer later on.
  • But, be very clear on the additional costs any new work will involve.

The Client And You Don’t Agree

Your client asks you to do something a bit borderline, or create something you know won’t benefit their business. What do you do?

  • Be upfront and tell them. You’re the expert, you don’t just have to agree with them.
  • Get it in writing! If they go against your advice, you need a record of why it went wrong.
  • If you have a choice, avoid the client, and their projects altogether.
  • If you don’t have a choice, look for longer-term ways to diversify your client portfolio.

Come Prepared With Your Freelance Mastery Toolkit

Freelance problems might arise in a variety of different ways, but generally speaking will fall into these categories. The key is to be ready for them so you can keep growing your business. What’s the worst that can happen? You no longer work together. Sometimes clients will be difficult, the key is to develop relationships with the ones that will benefit your business.

16. How To Optimize Your System

As a freelancer, you need to have a system in place that is going to maximize your potential for growth and success. A freelance system is how you do and conduct yourself as a business and so having an optimized one in place can certainly be beneficial. Here are some tips on how to optimize your system as a freelancer.

Refine it to match your workflow

Your workflow is something that’s going to be different from every other freelancer out there. There are certain processes that you’ll have as a freelancer that work for you but that don’t work for others. With that being said, when it comes to optimizing your system, you want to refine the workflow so that it matches exactly what you need from the process itself from start to finish. 

It might be that there’s more focus on the initial consultations with clients or that you spend more time on collaboration parts of the process. Look at what works for you as a freelancer and what doesn’t. Make a habit of refining and tweaking your workflow constantly where necessary.

Look for weak points in the system

There are going to be weak points in your system. We all have weaknesses as individuals and businesses are exactly the same. As a freelancer, you are your business and so it’s important to spot those areas in your system that are letting you down. It could be the organization and management of your clients or it could be the quality of the products you provide.

Look at your system in general and find those points that need more of your attention than others. It’s important for the sake of growth for your freelance career.

Use tools and software to your advantage

There are some incredible tools and software out there to take advantage of and they can be a real help when it comes to your freelance career. Quickbooks is a prime example for helping with money management and making sure everything is as it should be with your accounts, invoices and expenses, etc.

Organization software like Asana can be great when you’re juggling multiple client projects at once and need to separate them efficiently. 

Consider your clients in the system

Your clients are an integral part of the process and that of your system too. So with that being said, it’s good to consider your clients and how you can ensure they remain happy and content with their experience as your customer. Look at the system you provide and where they slot into it. Are they getting good value for what they’re investing in? Look at how you can improve the quality of service and how to better your client’s experience from start to finish.

Optimizing your system as a freelancer takes time but you’ll get there. Don’t give up and always try to set yourself to a high standard. That can only be done though when you have a system that works for you and you alone.

17. Make the Leap to Full-Time Freelancing

Have you ever wondered how you can take your freelance to a full-time venture? The challenge of transitioning over from full-time employment in a company to going for it on your own can be difficult to gauge. It’s not just about the money but it’s also about the timing of when you do it and how you do it in order to maximize its chances of being a successful move. Here are some tips when it comes to making the leap to full-time freelancing.

Prepare your finances

Going freelance isn’t easy and this is particularly so when it comes to your finances. It’s not only difficult for yourself but it may prove challenging to your household or to those who are financially dependent on you as the income provider.

With that being said, it’s essential to prepare your finances and look at how realistic things are when it comes to making the move. It might be that you do have the ability to go freelance or it might not be possible yet. It’s worth assessing your finances but also looking at your budget. How much do you need in order to live the same lifestyle you have now or to simply afford your bills and everything else you pay for?

Create a portfolio or evidence of your work

A portfolio or evidence of your work is really important for your freelance career, especially when you’re only starting out. For example, if you’re a writer and want to do freelance writing, start collating all your writing experience and examples. Any published works or unpublished works should be brought together under one place so that it’s easy to see for those individuals or businesses you pitch to.

Another way of creating a portfolio is by having a website and this tends to be a common feature for freelancers or those starting their own business. It’s a necessity in today’s world and society that’s driven by the internet and technology.

Make it a side hustle first

If in doubt, make it a side hustle to begin with. A lot of individuals who eventually go freelance have been moonlighting until they’re ready to take the plunge. Spend as much time outside of your full-time job as you can to work on your services or products as a freelancer. There will eventually come a point at which you can justify taking it full-time. However, that point is going to vary from person to person and only you will know when the time is right.

Build a reputation

There are lots of benefits to promoting yourself online and offline because it builds your reputation. Reputation is important, especially if you’re offering services and need to create a client list. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself or feel as though it’s something that you should be embarrassed about. It’s essential to sell yourself and market your services or products as a freelancer because no one else will.

Use these tips to prepare yourself and find the right opportunity to take that leap into full-time freelancing.

18. How To Staying Motivated

Even the most successful individuals have unproductive days. So what’s the solution? Try harder? No! Willpower alone is not enough. Here are our top 6 list of productivity issues and how to combat them with some freelance motivation.

You Have Low Energy

Maybe you went out the night before, had no sleep, or had a huge bowl of pasta for lunch. You have low energy. What do you do?

  • Accept your low energy. If you can, go and see a movie, do some chores or watch TV.
  • If you are working full-time go for a walk at lunch or complete some mindless admin.
  • Maximize your productive times - whether it's early in the morning or post-workout.
  • Be honest - if you can’t wake up at 6, or work past 9 - don’t do it! It won’t work.

You Are Overwhelmed

You have 100 tasks to do on a Monday morning. Too much work? Perhaps you’re likely to do nothing. Here’s some things to help:

  • Break down each task into 5 smaller 10-15 minute action points. 
  • Create realistic tasks - e.g. need to set up a specific account? That’s an action point.
  • Write down even the basic steps - you can do these when you have low energy.

You Feel Inertia

When you start a new project do you find it incredibly hard to motivate yourself? You aren’t alone. Here are some tips to combat inertia:

  • Acknowledge the first 5 times will be hard, but the 6th, or 10th time will feel more natural. 
  • Don’t break the chain! Mark up each day you achieve the task on a calendar.
  • Finding it tough? Complete the task for 15 minutes and go back to what you were doing.

You Forget Tasks

By nature we are all forgetful. It’s not our fault, we just have multiple distractions to react to. Try the following to fight the forgetfulness:

  • Outsource it! Let Google Calendar remind you of key tasks and projects.
  • Schedule a weekly review each week of 30 minutes for completed and upcoming tasks.
  • When you start, you might feel overwhelmed. As you break down tasks it will get better.
  • Book a realistic time slot in the week - e.g. Sunday afternoon or some weekly downtime

Nothing Feels Urgent

If you have a side business, you can feel less pressure to achieve tasks without a manager breathing down your neck. Here’s how to break this pattern:

  • Create urgency with specific to-do lists on the calendar.
  • Have an accountability partner who you deliver your progress to.
  • Honor your calendar - be strict about the tasks you have set yourself.
  • Over time, you won’t need an accountability partner as you build in the habit.

You Are Discouraged

The task seems bigger than you thought, or will take more time than expected. How do you fight discouragement?

  • Create a high level review each month which focuses on your goals.
  • Use it to evaluate your progress and what you have learnt and accomplished.
  • Celebrate your achievements! Even the smallest tasks deserve acknowledgment. 
  • Keep it high level: Do I love what I do? Do I add value? Is my market correct?

Stay Motivated By Making Tasks Simple

There’s no secret recipe for freelance motivation. But you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to complete tasks. Creating simple steps you can follow on your most unproductive days will help you achieve even when you have low energy. Work smarter to maximize your productive days and accomplish even when you aren’t at your best.

19. Networking

Networking is critical for growing your business. Yet so many people hate it. Why? People think that networking seems sleazy or fake. But there’s an art to networking that adds value to both parties. Here’s how to engage in effective freelance networking, and how to leverage it to grow your business.

Begin With Who You Know

The simplest way to grow your network is to leverage your existing one. You can do this by:

  • Setting up meetings with members of your existing project teams (including managers).
  • Take them for a coffee and ask them how you can help them with their work.
  • You add value to them and in exchange they may introduce you to their wider network.
  • If someone in your network does mention someone, ask permission to contact them.

Plan Events With A Strategy

You don’t have to attend every event! Sometimes less events and more planning is a good way to network. Do this by asking yourself:

  • How can you achieve results in the quickest time? And what are these results?
  • Why are you going to events: for connectors, paid clients or mentorship?
  • Tailor your approach to the event: don’t sell your business if you're looking to connect.
  • If you want to talk to a specific person: introduce and book to talk in advance.

Ask The Right Questions

Even the most introverted of people can look good with some well selected questions. Some tips for freelance networking:

  • Asking without selling: ask simple but penetrating questions to get results. 
  • ‘What does an average day look like?’ Use it to benchmark workload and commitments.
  • ‘Can you give me some advice?’ A great way to make people feel good.
  • Spend almost all of the time asking about your target person. Make them feel important.
  • Talk about yourself at the end of the meeting in a succinct and clear way.

Have A Closing Point

It’s okay to ask for something when networking. It’s just about how you frame it:

  • At the end of the meeting, let the person know you’re looking for clients or contacts.
  • You’ll be adding value to the person while potentially helping your own business.
  • The person will be more valuable to someone else because they know a guy in sector X.
  • If the closing point is to get advice (not business), be prepared with the right questions.

Pay Attention To Your Network

You need to pay attention to your existing network, and not just keep adding to it. Some simple steps are to:

  • Add information to your CRM about each contact so you have a good basis for convos.
  • Make room in your calendar for a quarterly reminder to reach out to contacts.
  • Book in time with your existing network to go out for a coffee and check in.
  • Analyze your own success with your network to improve again in future.
  • Prune the network: sometimes people will talk but not deliver. Let them contact you.

Networking Doesn’t Have To Be A Chore

When planned and scheduled, networking can become a natural part of your existing business growth. It can also be fun! Networking also allows you to socialize and develop greater knowledge of a particular sector. 

20. Conclusion

Hopefully, this book has helped to highlight the benefits of freelance work and has further sparked your interest in adopting this working lifestyle. Of course, while the information above gives great insight into freelancing success, there’s always room for further progression. If you’d like to advance further in your freelance and remote working career, you should seriously consider joining a freelance mastery course program. You can find out more about this at mastery.andrejthefreelancer.com.