Freelancing as a full-time or part-time endeavor is hard, any way you cut it. Working in a gig economy as a writer, editor, marketer or in another field, where projects ebb and flow can be challenging. And at times, these circumstances can make it hard to stay motivated. Keeping your clients happy, maintaining the quality of your work, being communicative and keeping your mood up are all key aspects of being a successful and happy freelancer. However, if you aren’t motivated, then your work suffers.
When it comes to the freelance grind, these six important tips will help improve your productivity, grow your client base and most importantly, keep you motivated!
1. Have a routine
Being a freelancer often means that your schedule can vary from one day to the next. Having a routine can help add stability to your evolving career path. Getting up early, making coffee, walking the dog, working out, then getting to your emails can make all the difference in your day.
Set aside time to take breaks. Take an hour for lunch. Keep regular business hours and try not to respond to emails after 7 PM unless there is an emergency. By having a structure in your daily life, this can help give you some solace and give you routine. Setting aside the time each day to work is essential to keeping you happy and healthy.
2. Be creative with how you find your contacts and your clients
Finding new clients can be a challenge. But once you realize anyone is a potential client, and there are various ways to obtain their contact information, the sky’s the limit. Networking can be an essential way for a freelancer to build a client base.
Always be at the ready with business cards. Once you get someone’s contact information, remember to follow up in a few days so that you are fresh in their mind. Your peer network is also an untapped resource for potential clients and leads. Networking within your own group can result in unexpected leads and, in the long run, help you in ways you didn’t realize.
When looking for contacts, one good source is social media. Searching platforms such as Twitter can result in a wealth of knowledge. Keyword searches of editors, writers, academic and other people working across various fields via Twitter can tell you a lot. More times than not, people’s individual social media bios are more up to date than company websites and can give you an idea of where someone is working. Twitter bios will often include a link to their website or possibly their email address. Also, remember to follow influential people in your field on Twitter and engage with their content. This can be another way for you to network and stand out, helping you pitch the story or project you want.
Facebook can also be another way to connect with people. Share your projects online, engage your friends—and friends of friends—about the content you are producing. And make a professional Facebook page to keep people up to date about your successes and engage the projects you are working on. Ask questions, pose ideas and use it as an extension of the project or article you’re working on.
3. Be open to different ways of working
Although we all get into the habit of working the same kinds of ways, it is important to learn how to mix it up. Being open to different modes of working also means being flexible, receptive to constructive criticism and learning new skills that might be required for a particular job. The new computer system you learned on your previous job may help you in your next position. Keep an open mind and be creative about the connections you are making.
4. Be flexible and remember to breathe
Being able to adjust to any situation quickly is a great skill set to have. As a freelancer, it is something you will find yourself doing time and again. While contracted jobs can get stressful—remember to breathe. Try not to be too rigid or set in your ways. Adjust your expectations accordingly and, more times than not, the client will respond accordingly.
In more complicated situations, it is still important to be able to maintain your cool. Over-communicate and be as clear as possible when speaking to your client about what is going on. This will help you identify how the issue can be addressed. With some quick thinking and some deep breathing, hopefully, it will be an easy fix.
5. Put time aside each week to set your goals
It’s important to prioritize and keep up with the tasks you have on hand. Each week, put aside a few minutes to review your upcoming projects.
Keeping track of what’s coming down the pipeline can also help you set your goals for the week. Set them around the parameters of the projects you have going on, but also try to think big.
Pitch out-of-the-box ideas to editors and project managers. You never know what they may be looking for, and if you don’t bring the idea up, you never know what could have been. Set manageable weekly goals for the things that have to get done. Additionally, set long-term goals that can help keep you engaged and your creative juices flowing.
6. Keep in touch with other freelancers to help keep you motivated
Talking to other freelancers is important because they understand the same kinds of struggles, and ups and downs you are experiencing. Try to join an online or physical group of other freelancers and make bigger connections. Chatting with other people in your industry can help you develop working relationships—and friendships—that will help you in the long-run.
Make time to check in with one another. Your freelance friends can be a great source of knowledge and can give you advice about how to handle potentially sticky situations that may come up. They can also offer guidance on projects and be a second pair of eyes. With someone else looking out for you in this gig economy, it can help keep you motivated to do your best.