The reality for most freelancers is you’re working on many projects and with many clients, often simultaneously. More clients generally translate to more income, but more clients also translate into more stress and less you-time. The juggling act can be a real challenge – you have to keep all of your projects going and on schedule. With two years living the freelance life and having experienced quite a lot of up’s and downs, I learned my lessons, and like to share them with you! Maybe this will help you to become a better freelance juggler without going nuts ;)
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Since it’s all about you as a freelancer and you’re the one bossing yourself around, it’s important to know a few personal habits and how you can put them to good use. Know your talents, know your strengths, know your limits and above all: know your weaknesses.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
At least once a day I yell ‘communication is everything!’ through the office. Which is, in my humble opinion, nothing but the truth. When communication is fuzzy a project can go off course and become riddled with errors. Don’t think asking this or that will make you appear not-so-sharp in the client’s mind. If you don’t fully understand something, just ask ‘If I understand you correctly, you mean …’. An important tip for juggling multiple clients is to keep in touch with each client regularly. It’s also really important to communicate any problems or questions that you have. And be sure to let your client know as soon as possible if you won’t be able to deliver on time.
Work with contracts
If freelancing is a significant source of income for you, or any source of income at all, it is absolutely necessary to have a contract with each and every one of your clients. Before you start working on any project – or even lift a finger – sit down with your (new) client and discuss both your needs and plans. Without a contract to back you up, you may be stuck with hours of uncompensated work.
Don’t put every file on your computer desktop
Each file has a destination! To keep track of your documents – what’s worse than searching ten minutes for a single file? – just put them in the right folder straight away. Make use of tagging your files (in OSX Mavericks) and give them a color tag (this works, trust me!). As we speak, I can’t see my own desktop background because of all the files piling up, and this makes me so restless that it only distracts me from doing my work. Having the same trouble? Take a few hours to re-organize your computer and you’re ready to go again!
Make use of Google Agenda
The bright colors might give you a little heart attack at first, but using a digital tool like this (the agenda on your computer syncs with the one on your phone) may help you to keep track of different activities at different jobs. Seeing all of your projects and clients as one timeline – and making it visual – will help you to avoid the work-hindering feeling of overwhelm.
Try doing things right away
It’s often kind of annoying when you get a call about project B, when you’re busy sweating on your deadline for project A. But, customer is king, so take a few minutes and listen to what your client has to say. Always – did I say aaallllways? – make notes and when you say you put some things on mail, do it right away (even if you don’t have the time) because before you know a week goes by and your project A client is still waiting for that one e-mail. It’s good practice to answer questions from clients and prospects quickly, even if your answer is only to request more information.
Manage your inbox
I’m the organizing type, but when it comes to my e-mail inbox I’m kind of a slob. You know the red icon that indicates the number of unread emails? It always says I have 100+ e-mails to read. Not good. Take at least 30 minutes a day to reply, file, delete, archive, forward and red flag your mails.
Let your former clients know what you’re up to
Check in with former clients every now and then. Send out a bimonthly newsletter to update everyone on new work and emerging projects. Make sure you won’t be forgotten! If this effort means you get two new jobs, then that’s great news!
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(Text by Kelly Nederlof / image via Instagram/kellynederlof)