Living the laptop lifestyle isn’t as easy as it seems. Freelance jobs aren’t just one long adventure where you can travel the world with no worries. It’s time-consuming. Even though you may not need to show up to an office every day, it’s still a job.
Even so, dedicating yourself to freelancing fulltime can be incredibly rewarding. If you crave to live life on your own schedule you are probably already considering building a career in freelancing, building an online business, or becoming an entrepreneur. Through my experiences, I’ve learned crucial steps to building a career in freelancing. There are certain habits you should invest in if you want to succeed.
If you want to learn how to make money online, or how to land freelance writing jobs pay attention to these guidelines. Entrepreneurs and freelancers need to hustle to thrive. If this sounds like you, here are five things that can transform you into a full-time freelancer.
1. Control your schedule, don’t let your schedule control you
The first ingredient you’ll need to become a successful freelancer is to build a daily routine that you strictly follow. You own your schedule–which is beyond exciting if you’ve been working a 9-5 office job. Still, you need to be dedicated to your schedule and stay ahead of it.
The first obstacle every freelancer deals with is learning how to manage their time. Having a job where you can work from home is amazing, but it means you are in charge of what you do with your time. Don’t let your days slip away!
You need to figure out what time your workday begins and what time it ends. If you can’t manage your time your projects, work and credibility will suffer. This can prevent you from being able to excel as a freelancer.
Create a daily schedule that keeps you focused on your work, and ensures that you complete it. Fill this schedule with detailed tasks so that you are held accountable. This will also motivate to get moving in the morning, instead of hitting the snooze button.
This schedule should tell you when you work day is over. Separating your work life and personal life can be hard at first. If you don’t create these boundaries it can be unhealthy and lead you to burn out. Establishing a schedule will motivate you to start the day, and teach you to know when to take a break or end your day.
2. Don’t (ever) procrastinate
Procrastination is the bane of every freelancer’s existence. Learning to prioritize your work is a constant struggle. You may be inclined to start with the easy stuff and work your way to the more intense items. Don’t do that. Instead, complete your most strenuous tasks first.
Use your mornings to get the hard work out of the way. If you procrastinate and put off working on your heavier projects, they will end up being late or rushed. Your ability to thrive as a freelancer depends on the quality of your work. A major way to ensure you are doing your best work is by avoiding procrastination. Understanding this habit is a huge way to improve your life.
Trust me, you will be so relieved to get these big projects out of the way and move on to the smaller, more monotonous tasks. I’ve been a lifelong procrastinator, implementing this rule wasn’t easy for me. It took a long time for me to understand how important time management was. Ultimately, I understood that procrastination was making my life unnecessarily stressful. It was getting in the way of my productivity, of my work and of my income.
One thing I do that has helped me avoid procrastination is writing to-do lists and marking my calendar. These little tools help hold me accountable. Plus nothing is more satisfying than crossing an item off your to-do list!
3. Market yourself like it’s your job–which it kind of is
A huge tool for generating business (and income) is by marketing yourself. If you want to establish yourself as the go-to photographer, writer or video editor (etc), it’s up to you to do so.
There are a few ways you can do this. Promoting yourself on social media is a good start. After I started labeling myself as a writer, people started coming to me with work. But if they had no idea I was even writing, they wouldn’t have had an incentive to reach out to me.
Build a personal brand that explains what kind of work you want to do.
Another good marketing tool is to reach out to people. Contact them via LinkedIn or email, and let them know what kind of work you can provide them, or direct them to your website. Which leads me to my next point: have a website. Your site is your business card and portfolio all in one, so make sure it kicks ass.
One of the best ways you can market yourself is to build relationships. Collaborating with companies or other freelancers can be a huge way to generate work. I am a writer, blogger and content creator. So for me, it made a lot of sense to connect with digital agencies that needed content writers and/or bloggers. These relationships have provided steady streams of income–which is crucial for freelancers.
4. Become your own accountant (or outsource if need be)
As a freelancer, you need to be in charge of your finances. Since most freelancers are creative, finance is something you may naturally steer away from. Don’t. It’s imperative that you have a system that keeps account of your revenue, and your expenses.
How much money have you made, and how much have you saved? Which client is paying you what? Have they all paid or do you need to send invoices?
This stuff matters! It’s the crux of your ability to stay in business. You need to keep tabs on this to–at the very least–know if you are creating profitable revenue, or if you’re actually losing money. If you don’t prioritize this aspect of your work it will catch up with you. And if you simply can’t get down with the numbers, hire someone who can.
Once you learn how to keep track of your current finances, start projecting quarterly finances. Keep track of what revenue you have coming in for the next three months. Or if working in quarters is too daunting, simply start with creating a projection for the next month.
It’s important for both your time management and your wallet to have a good understanding of what work you have working in. This will tell you if you need to prioritize new clients, or if your plate is already full. If can’t grasp the amount of work you have you can’t plan accordingly.
Being able to keep track of your finances will make your life as a freelancer increasingly stress-free. It’s a huge part of your job as a freelancer and will help you be successful in your pursuits.
5. Build a financial runway for yourself
When you’re a freelancer workflow (and cash flow) isn’t always consistent–let alone guaranteed. Sometimes you will be overflowing with work. Other times you won’t have enough to do. Since this is the nature of the lifestyle, it’s important that you plan your finances accordingly.
In other words, always be saving.
Take a portion of every paycheck and put it towards your savings. People who aren’t freelancers should be doing this too, but as a freelancer, it’s even more important to have savings to fall back on. Living paycheck to paycheck can be extremely stressful. It’s a burden. Becoming financially independent starts with becoming financially cautious.
Your savings can also empower to make deliberate decisions. For example, if you’re always worried about paying rent you will continuously agree to work a lot of smaller, more tedious projects. Knowing you have funds to fall back on allows you to find bigger and more meaningful projects to work on.
This skill will be a massive help to you at times where work and revenue are scarce, or inconsistent. Getting in the habit of prioritizing saving money will aid you in navigating the ups and downs of a freelance lifestyle.
Being a freelancer is so empowering. You get to own your own schedule and create a work lifestyle that is suitable for your needs. It’s a great way to explore career options and to pursue passions. All that being said, it still requires a lot of discipline.
Most people who find out I work remotely, and for myself, tell me how jealous they are. They let me know how much they wish they didn’t have to show up to an office. But the truth is not everybody is cut out for this kind of hustle. Although freelancing is a great way to do amazing work that makes you happy, it also involves a lot more.
As I mentioned above you have to be your own accountant––and your own personal assistant––on top of your freelance work.
So when transitioning to the laptop lifestyle, keep the above tools in mind. It will help you thrive as a freelancer. These habits will make your life less stressful, and allow you work at your full potential.