If you’re looking to get ahead of the game in your freelance career, this bumper list of 52 tips for freelancers is exactly what you need.
When you work as a freelancer, you learn something new every day. These freelance tips bring together everything I’ve learned in over 15 years of working for myself. In that time I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and my biggest hope for this article is that it helps readers avoid some of them!
Let’s get straight to it.
WHILE YOU’RE HERE: Find out all the honest pros and cons of freelancing here.
Financial and Legal Advice for Freelancers
1. Track your numbers
It’s easy to get caught up in your day to day work as a freelancer. However, it is really important to maintain an overall view of how well you’re performing.
Even a basic Excel spreadsheet of what you’ve billed each month to each client will help you to spot seasonal trends and notice if certain customer’s workloads are falling. (If you need Excel, you can find Office 365 here).
You wouldn’t expect a company not to track its income and profit – and it’s no different if your business is just you and a few clients.
2. Take deposits!
Over time, you gain a sense of how much you can trust people. There are plenty of clients who I will happily allow to build up four-figure invoices before I worry about them paying me.
But the same doesn’t apply to everyone. Always make sure you protect yourself and your valuable time. If this means negotiating that a client pays some money up-front, please be sure to do it.
Professional clients rarely have a problem with deposits and appreciate that you need to share the risk. If clients are unwilling to pay a deposit, that may act as enough of a warning sign to walk away.
3. Always keep in mind the total cost of delivering your services
Whether you charge per project, by the hour, or by the day, the headline rate you charge never ends up in your pocket in full.
You need to think about how much tax you pay, how much time you lose to related admin tasks, and how many other costs you have to think about – which could include anything from insurance cover to software tools.
Impressive hourly rates often go down by 50% or more by the time you’ve allowed for all of those things – so make sure you price accordingly. (There’s a useful article on how to price your freelance services here).
4. Don’t make assumptions about your ongoing income
Of all the tips for freelancers I include here, this one’s rather personal to me.
I’m an optimist most of the time, and a trap I’ve fallen into again and again is to look at the income I’ve averaged over the past few months, times it by 12, and assume that’s what I’m likely to earn in a year.
Freelancing just doesn’t work like that. Hopefully you’ll end up earning more than that projection, but there’s always a chance a stream of work will dry up and you’ll earn less. By all means be positive, but be realistic too.
5. Keep in regular contact with your accountant
Accountants aren’t psychic. And in many small business situations, you only have meaningful contact with your accountant once each year when they do your annual accounts.
While I don’t suggest you become a pest to your accountant, it does make sense to always keep them abreast of any changes to your business or new things you’re doing.
There may be initiatives you could sign up to, more favourable ways to handle your tax situation, or upcoming changes that could cost you dearly if you’re unaware of them. As such, it makes sense to check in with your accountant more regularly than once each year.
6. Don’t over discount
It took me years of freelancing before I stopped offering discounts to guarantee business. It makes even less sense to do it just so the clients “like you.” I’ve been guilty of that one too!
Offering discounts for big batches of work, guaranteed long-term commitments, or even up-front or early payment can be worthwhile things to do.
But offering discounts as a matter of course or because you’re desperate to get work in isn’t so wise. It’s usually better to hold out for the clients who are willing to pay what you’re worth.
7. Don’t overcharge
On the flipside of the same coin is avoiding any temptation to overcharge your clients. Business culture is cut-throat and modern life is expensive, but one guaranteed way to turn customers off is to charge excessively based on what you think you can get away with.
If you overcharge your clients, they may pay the bill once or twice, but they won’t have any loyalty to you. They will probably move on as soon as somebody comes along being less exploitative.
8. Be strict with your credit control
You probably won’t manage to side-step late payment all together, but you can at least be consistently strict with it. Make sure your clients know you’re not a pushover. Chase payments the second they become overdue, ideally by phone, which is far harder to ignore than email.
And if clients push it too far, don’t hesitate to send out late payment letters or perhaps even think about withdrawing your services.
Yes, sometimes putting up with late payment is part and parcel of dealing with bigger companies, but on other occasions it’s simply not worth sticking with clients who are unreliable.
9. Have an emergency fund – or borrowing facility
I could hardly produce a tips for freelancers article without saying something about a financial emergency fund. However, I like to be more realistic than those people who say you need six months of income tucked away in the bank somewhere.
Of course, if you’re fortunate enough to be in that position then all power to you. But back in the real world, 70% of freelancers have no long term savings.
So I’m not going to say you need many months’ worth of savings. If that was a prerequisite, many people wouldn’t be able to start freelancing at all. However, it IS good to know how you’ll survive if a client doesn’t pay on time, or if your computer dies and you need to rush out and buy one to keep working.
If this can mean savings, that’s great. If not, it may mean you need an overdraft facility. Don’t worry about the need for one – if this kind of finance is good enough for governments and corporates, it’s good enough for freelancers! Just don’t go breaching any limits, or it all gets very messy, very fast.
10. Stay politically aware
Even if you run a mile from all things political, you really needs to stay abreast of what’s going on in the the corridors of power if you’re a freelancer.
National budgets are particularly important. Changes to taxation and new government initiatives can have a major impact on how much money actually ends up in your pocket.
You can rarely do anything to fight the system, but you can at least be as forewarned as possible when changes are coming.
11. Don’t take shortcuts with compliance
One of the downsides of being a freelancer is that tasks periodically crop up that take a bunch of time but earn you absolutely zero money.
Tasks like this that I particularly detest include dealing with annual insurance renewals, producing VAT returns, and setting up new computers. (I did IT support for a living for far too long to enjoy THAT any more!)
One time drain that you never get paid for is compliance – and few freelance businesses are so small that compliance isn’t an issue. Own a website? You need to think about GDPR and privacy policies. Make cakes for a living? You’ll need food hygiene certificates.
It’s not fun, but you still have to do it.
12. Make sure you’re insured
I can tell you one thing that’s a LOT less fun that doing the work to make sure your freelance business complies with the law: Getting sued.
Things CAN go wrong. Furthermore, plenty of insurances are legally mandatory for all kinds of freelance businesses. Insurance isn’t always expensive, and Hiscox is worth a look for small businesses and freelancers.
We also have a detailed article on insurance here, covering everything from health to professional liability.
13. Regularly review the services and subscriptions you pay for
I use all kinds of services and subscriptions to run my various business ventures, and there are many that I’d never want to be without.
However, there’s something that happens to me annoyingly often: I get an email saying something like “we’ve successfully processed your renewal payment for xxxx.” And it’s frequently for something I signed up for, stopped using, and completely forgot about.
As such, it makes sense to periodically check all of your standing orders, App Store subscriptions and PayPal recurring payments.
The screenshot below is just a small fraction of my payments on just one of my PayPal accounts. Even though I regularly go through these, they quickly build back up again. It doesn’t help that it always seems far more difficult than necessary to find these in your PayPal account!
If your freelance business saves $100, that’s just as good as earning another $100 – it’s arguably easier – so keep an eye on those recurring payments!
14. Stay in control of your sundry costs
Sometimes the work you’re doing for clients costs your more time and money than it first appears.
A classic example of this is when I first started doing freelance IT consultancy. While my hourly rate (£75/$100) sounded quite impressive, it was a lot less impressive when it was taking me an hour of travel across London to get to the client…and an hour back….and the price of the train fare…and the overpriced sandwich I had no option but to grab…….and the network cable I gave the client out of my bag.
I imagine you get the picture. While you likely can’t charge for every little bit of travel time and every tiny expense you occur, it’s important to draw a line somewhere sensible. You lose enough from your bottom line in taxation – so don’t allow other sundry costs to eat into it even further.
Sales and Marketing Tips for Freelancers
15. Don’t get complacent with existing clients
When you’ve been working with a specific client for a long time, it can all start to feel very normal and comfortable. However, it’s important not to take existing clients (and their revenue) for granted.
Even if you’re doing a perfectly good job, there’s still a chance that clients will run after “shiny things” – and those shiny things can include your competitors.
Make sure you frequently check in with your “regulars.” Ensure that they are happy, and see if there’s any more you can do to help them and improve your service.
16. Learn to handle rejection
Rejection is a huge and unavoidable part of freelancing.
You will inevitably work hard on pitches that get ignored, and be overlooked in favour of other freelancers who may be cheaper, more experienced, or just a better fit for the client.
It’s really crucial to understand that this is all just part of the game, and that you must dust yourself off and move to the next thing.
17. Don’t neglect your real-word network
When you chat to freelancers it’s not at all unusual to find that their biggest clients are their ex-employers, or that they found a certain contract via a “friend of a friend.”
While the freelance job boards are a source of endless new leads, don’t forget the old adage that it’s sometimes not what you know but who you know. As such, don’t forget that all of your real-world contacts could lead you in the direction of new work.
18. Never rely on just one client
Here’s another piece of freelance advice that’s very much based on my own past mistakes!
Quite frequently, you can find that a single client sends more and more work in your direction.
It’s great when it first happens, and you begin to see your monthly invoice getting bigger and bigger. However, what often happens next is that you realise you’ve become dependent on that client for almost all of your livelihood.
However lucrative your relationship with that one client may be, working like this places you in a precarious position. It’s like having all the downsides of being a traditional “employee,” but without the benefits and job security.
Another downside is that your experience narrows to only the kind of work you do with that client, resulting in your portfolio of work getting more and more out of date.
Most importantly, the risk of losing the client and ending up with nothing exists regardless of any unforeseen disaster. Sometimes a company buy-out or a change to policy can result in your relationship with the client ending swiftly – even if you’ve been producing perfect work. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
19. Keep your online profiles up to date
When you have a personal blog, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook business page, numerous online portfolios and all kinds of other online presences, keeping them all up to date can seem like an endless task.
However, it’s not a task you should ignore. When you’re dealing with a new client, you never know which of those things they might check out. As such, they all need to be up to date and putting across the same message about who you are and what you do.
If you have too many profiles and sites to keep them all up to date, you could be better off trimming them down and properly maintaining the ones you most need.
20. Be aware of your competition
It’s easy to get bogged down in day to day work and feel you don’t have time to look at what your competition are doing. However, if you don’t keep a watchful eye, you never know when some new promotion, initiative or trend is going to catch you unawares.
Keeping an eye on the competition needn’t be particularly time consuming. Having a nose at your competitor’s websites and profiles is something you can do on your phone when you have small amounts of downtime. You never know, you could even find some inspiration for new services of your own.
21. Don’t let your sales pipeline run dry
This is another one of my tips for freelancers that’s based on plenty of real life experience!
It’s all too easy to get caught up in how busy you are when you have a full calendar or order book.
But what can happen next is that you realise you didn’t really plan for what you were going to do after the big contract was finished. Suddenly things go from crazily busy to frighteningly quiet.
The only way to prevent this happening is to make sure you continue marketing and pitching for things, even when you ARE busy. I can’t deny it’s hard to strike with right balance here, but if you want to (at least partly) control the inevitable “feast and famine” nature of freelancing, you have to constantly keep the new work coming in.
22. Keep an eye on the freelance boards
Some people are incredibly negative about the mainstream freelance job boards like PeoplePerHour and Upwork.
I often stick my neck out in their defence. Yes, they are places where your path is strewn with scams and high fees, but they are home to lots of new opportunities and potential client relationships.
Even if you are fortunate enough to have plenty of work without having to join the masses pitching on the job boards, it still makes sense to log on and have a poke around regularly. It will help you know what the market is like in your area of business, and spot trends in what people are paying for services like yours.
23. Make sure you keep past work
You may not wish to mention or display every single past job on your resumé or portfolio, but it’s also unwise not to keep some kind of record of ALL of your past work.
Things don’t last forever; Online articles get taken down, websites close, and books and magazines go out of print.
You never know when something you did years ago may be a perfect example of work for a new client. I’ve personally written magazine articles and blog posts that I now have no record of, because I wasn’t organised enough about keeping records at the time.
It may not seem like that much of a priority when you have a hundred other things to do. However, you can take it from me that it’s really annoying when you know you have a really good example of a specific type of work, but you can no longer show it off.
Tips for Enjoying the Freelance Lifestyle
24. Make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing
There will always be certain business tasks you don’t particularly enjoy doing. However, there’s little point in being a freelancer if you don’t largely enjoy your daily work.
It’s fair to say that there’s a lot more “paying your dues” in the early days. When I first started doing freelance writing, I took on some ghastly tasks – for the money, for the experience, and for the example clips for my portfolio.
I’m pleased to say there’s far less work that I have to grind through nowadays – still some, but thankfully not much. The key point is that if you’re regularly hating the working day, it’s worth making some changes. You might as well get a job if freelancing means doing work you don’t enjoy.
25. Forgive yourself for bad days
Keeping yourself motivated is a constant battle as a freelancer. Often, certain friends say to me that they couldn’t imagine being self-employed. They just know they wouldn’t be driven enough without a boss to support them and push them along.
Most of the time I wake up inspired by the work I have to do, but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. With experience, the most valuable advice I can provide is that you must just learn to forgive yourself for those days. It’s not human to work like a robot every single day.
Allow yourself that duvet day, and try not to feel guilty about it.
26. Eat properly and exercise!
OK, this is another freelancing tip I’ve been guilty of ignoring! Working freelance, in theory, frees you up to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into the working day.
On some days I completely nail it: preparing myself a healthy lunch, then setting off at 4pm for a long walk while I listen to a business podcast.
But then there are the other days – the ones where I stay plugged into my laptop for so long that by the time I eat, I’m mindlessly cramming down something carb-laden; The days where my huge bottle of filtered water is still sitting there untouched when the children get home from school.
As with the last tip, it’s important to remember that we are only human. However, it’s good to make the days where you over-prioritise the work the exception, rather than the rule.
27. Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is human nature, but it’s also a bad habit, and one that can lead to depression.
As a freelancer, it’s inevitable that you will encounter some uncomfortable comparisons. For many freelancers, myself included, freelancing is about a lifestyle choice as much as money. However, that doesn’t stop tinges of envy when you see people get promotions and pay rises, or jet off on intercontinental business trips.
As a freelancer, your world is likely to feel quite unique. This is especially true during the early stages of a freelance career, when you’re making material sacrifices in order to live your dream. Even once you’re more established, you will face challenges your employed counterparts don’t have to think about. These can include such things as obtaining a mortgage without a regular salary, or dealing with ill-health without the comfort of sick pay.
It’s important to remember why you made the lifestyle choice. I personally find remembering that I don’t have to commute or book my holiday time in advance usually helps to snap me out of some of these unhelpful feelings!
28. Don’t expect non-freelancers to understand your world
This leads on neatly from the tip above; Friends and family who’ve never been self-employed themselves tend to have a frustratingly limited understanding of the daily challenges you face.
This can manifest itself in all kinds of ways. When you work at home, people who’ve never done so themselves can completely fail to realise that dropping in unannounced is really disruptive. They don’t seem to realise that they’d never even think of doing the same if you worked in an office!
Similarly, people who’ve always had an employer dealing with their tax and social security payments will never understand the stress and anxiety around dealing with annual tax returns and other bureaucracy.
29. Find freelance friends
This freelance tip offers a solution to the one above: find freelance friends. Whether they are the other self-employed people in your existing circle, or people you meet online or via networking events, it’s wise to build up a group of supportive people who actually do understand what freelance life is all about.
30. Take regular time off
When I’m feeling positive about working freelance, my work and personal life can blend into a single happy existence. This isn’t always a bad thing. It’s certainly great to wake up on a Monday morning looking forward to the work you have to do, or to sit on a plane enthusiastically typing out a blog post.
However, there’s a fine line between this state of mind and failing to separate out work time and private time. I’ve fallen foul of this in the past, taking “breaks” where I don’t set any “out of office” responses and aim for an ill-defined “working holiday.”
It doesn’t work. Those “breaks” end up feeling like neither one thing or the other. You end up feeling like you’re neither relaxing nor working at full capacity. Time off should be time OFF, and being strict with yourself is better for your productivity AND your health.
31. Monitor your work / life balance
This expands on the previous point. When your days start to continually leak into your evenings, and your working weeks leak into your weekends, you’re laying a path to make yourself unhappy.
Personally, I tend to set really well-defined boundaries, stick to them for a while, but then find myself allowing them to drift. Every now and then, you have to take stock and perhaps have a word with yourself. There’s a detailed article on work / life balance here. (I should probably re-read it myself!)
Developing your freelance career
32. Keep your skills up to date
Nothing in life stands still. Everything evolves, from IT systems to marketing techniques to fashion trends. Even social networks fall in and out of favour, so there’s no point in being a Twitter expert if all your clients want to get established on Pinterest – or TikTok (which is a complete mystery to me!)
However busy you are, it’s essential to keep learning new things and stay one step ahead of industry trends. Thankfully there are loads of ways that freelancers can find cheap (or even free) training.
I’m quite a fan of Coursera for home-based training and have been taking courses there since 2014. Find my full review here.
33. Identify and fill gaps in your knowledge
Are there particular tasks you always struggle with? Or are there any areas of the work you do for clients where you feel you’re not quite at expert level?
It’s wise to be honest with yourself about these things and work to fill in the gaps. Sometimes this involves little more than doing some Googling or practising. If you were an employee at a good company, your managers and HR team would work with you to improve on your weaknesses. As a freelancer, it’s down to you to identify them and work on them yourself.
34. Don’t be frightened to branch out
One of the wonderful parts of being a freelancer is that you don’t have to settle on any one thing. There’s nothing to say you can’t be a PR consultant who dabbles in blogging one day a week, or a graphic designer with a side business making cupcakes.
I talk about this in more detail in this article on having a portfolio career. As a freelancer there are no rules around how many pies you can have your fingers in – you can work on as many micro businesses as you like.
It’s probably worth adding a caveat here however – don’t spread yourself too thinly. Jack of all trades and master of none isn’t necessarily a recipe for success.
35. Keep reading
Reports suggest that most CEOs read an average of a book each week. I’d be lying if I said I consistently meet this lofty goal, but I do try to get quite close to it. You never know what inspiration a book will provide for your freelance career, and it’s not only dry business books that can spark ideas.
Although I’m personally quite “traditional” with books, and enjoy collecting the real ones made of paper, I do increasingly use a combination of Kindle and Audible. These services allow me to read on my devices, and have books read out to me while I walk (or fall asleep!)
There are some great self-development books on Audible, and you can see if you get on with it by signing up to a free trial here.
36. Subscribe to some relevant podcasts
I was a bit of a late-comer to the world of podcasts, but I’m a total convert now. So much of a convert, in fact, that HomeWorkingClub now has a podcast of its own! You can find it and subscribe here.
Listening to podcasts is a great way to stay up-to-date with developments in your industry, and to hear insights from experts. It’s also a great way to be productive during “down time” or exercise.
Technical Tips for Freelancers
37. Keep a backup computer
It might seem like a luxury to keep a “spare” computer. However, I can assure you it doesn’t feel like a luxury if your laptop dies and you have a bunch of deadlines to meet by the end of the day. I’ve personally had to rush out and buy a laptop in a hurry, just to ensure everything gets done while I sort out a repair.
A backup computer doesn’t have to be anything snazzy, but it does have to work, and you need the ability to quickly restore your work and start being productive again.
Even if you choose to ignore 51 of the tips for freelancers here, PLEASE don’t ignore this one. Some of the most stressful moments of my freelance life have been when the tech has let me down. Nobody is immune to this happening. I have certifications from Apple and Microsoft – but that doesn’t mean I can magically fix a hardware failure.
38. Save and backup your work!
You’d think the need to backup data would be so obvious that it wouldn’t deserve mentioning in a freelance tips article. However, around 25% of people admit to NEVER backing up their data. Many more back up way less frequently than they should.
Having worked with hundreds of people as their “IT guy,” I can tell you which demographic ALWAYS back up: The ones who’ve lost data in the past and had to pay out big time in money and / or effort.
Things go wrong and mistakes happen. Don’t wait until you have a disaster of your own before being proactive about this.
39. Use the right tools to speed you up
There are various software tools that make my life easier every single day. I love the industry standard apps in Office 365, labour-saving tools like TextExpander, and services like Trello that help me organise my business life.
The thing is, you do actually have to put some effort into finding the tools that truly work for you. I once remember switching calendar programs and trying about eight different solutions for my Mac before settling on the one that did everything I wanted.
This may seem all rather laborious and time-consuming, especially if you are one of the many people who doesn’t particularly enjoy technology and sees it more as a necessary evil. However, the more you read, learn and try, the more you will feel that your computer is a partner in your trade, rather than an adversary!
40. Don’t tolerate IT issues – fix them!
If you’ve been staring at the same error message for months on end, or putting up with a little technical quirk that keeps slowing you down – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
The solution to most computer problems is a quick Google search away. Take some time out to fix those irritating issues and it will improve your stress levels AND your productivity.
41. Don’t put up with inadequate technology
One thing I saw a lot of during my years of traipsing around fixing computers was freelancers using creaky old tech to run their businesses. Ironically, it was often the people with enormous houses and flash cars who seemed determined to use an old computer until it literally ground to a halt.
This is a really bad idea.
Tech moves fast; However much you spend on a computer and however well you look after it, it will start to feel dated after a few years, and slow compared to the latest technology.
Freelancers often use computers for eight or more hours every single day – and they use them to generate income. I appreciate that budgets often won’t allow constant upgrades, however I believe it’s a huge false economy to continue to use technology that you know is slowing you down.
Even a few seconds every ten minutes adds up to a lot of frustration and wasted time. If you go past that point and start having to reboot to make your laptop regularly just to make it behave, you probably need something better. It may even be worth buying something on finance.
You should be spending your time working, not battling technology.
42. Keep your software up to date
There are MANY reasons to keep your software up to date: You could face security issues if you continue to use outdated versions. You will also find that companies – even giants like Microsoft and Apple – will only support obsolete software for a certain amount of time. After that, you’re on your own.
Trying to run a professional business with out of date software is about as sensible as driving a vehicle for a living and never getting it serviced.
43. Make your mobile devices work for you
I admit this is one of those tips for freelancers that I need to improve on a little myself!
Smartphones and tablets are incredibly capable devices. However, many people don’t use them to their full capacity. For everything you do connected with your business, there’s probably an app that can make you more efficient, or keep you in control when you’re out and about.
Although I now use my mobile devices for far more, there are still tasks I wait to do until I’m in front of my laptop. However, I’m gradually building on the apps I use, in order to make better use of my smartphone.
Let’s face it, these devices are expensive. We may as well get as much out of them as possible.
A small caveat: If you have trouble switching off from work, it may be a mixed blessing to have EVERYTHING accessible on ALL your devices. I, for example, have an iPad that’s NOT set up for email and work stuff that’s used purely for leisure and consuming media.
Keeping clients (and you) happy
44. Stay contactable and responsive
In business, people tend to fall into two distinct categories. They’re either super efficient when it comes to responding to emails and phone calls, or utterly useless. There’s surprisingly little grey area in between!
If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know which of the categories you’re in. If it’s the second one, try to do something about it. Clients DO notice.
I’ve had freelancers contact me looking for work who’ve then failed to reply when I’ve asked for more information. This is a ludicrous way to limit your own success.
45. Keep an audit trail
It surprises me just how often I find myself referring back to emails from many many years ago. Old clients sometimes pop out of the woodwork, and you need a reminder of the previous work you did with them. Or perhaps you see a name pop up on a message or on LinkedIn, and feel SURE you’ve had previous contact with that person.
As a freelancer, it’s wise to keep a record of all of your communications. It’s easy to do with email subfolders, especially as most email providers now provide more than enough storage to keep years’ worth of emails. Search facilities are good these days too, making it simple to find a random communication from ages ago.
Of course, keeping an audit trail isn’t just about remembering stuff from the past. It’s also crucial if there’s ever a complaint or some issue with past work. The more of a record you have, the less stressful it is to deal with such things. Knowing you have good records provides a lot of peace of mind, too.
46. Be firm with your boundaries
If you don’t work weekends, don’t ever work weekends. If you turn your laptop off after 6pm, always turn your laptop off after 6pm.
Your own personal boundaries will be specific to you, but they are vitally important. This isn’t only about keeping you happy and sane – it’s important that your clients know your boundaries too. If you compromise them once, you will probably be expected to compromise them again.
I’ve personally had big issues around this in the past, with clients phoning on Sundays and pushing boundaries in various other ways. You MUST be consistent. You will actually find your clients respect you more for it.
47. Get used to other people’s communication patterns
When you email some people, you seem to get a reply back in the blink of an eye. With others, you might consistently wait for a day or two. I have one business contact who rarely replies to any email and follows up with a phone call instead!
The point with this tip is that it’s better to just to learn to get used to all of these different communication styles than to get frustrated by them. Drumming your fingers on the table while you wait for people to get back to you, then suddenly being swamped with work because they all “wake up” at the same time just seems to be an unavoidable part of freelancing…
48. Don’t be afraid to “sack” a client
Even after 15 years of freelancing, I could count the clients I’ve “sacked” on one hand (OK, maybe two…) but it’s not something I’ve ever regretted.
The ability to say “enough’s enough” is actually one of the big benefits of freelancing. You don’t HAVE to deal with the bad attitudes, the late payers, and the clients who lack integrity. If you work for a company, you may have no option.
Sacking a client isn’t an ability you should be deploying regularly, but when things become intolerable, you are perfectly within your rights to send one packing. If you’ve done it for the right reasons, it’s unlikely you’ll regret it.
We’ve produced a detailed guide to firing clients.
Productivity Tips for Freelancers
49. Stop scrolling!
You know I’m talking about social media!
Scrolling endlessly down Facebook and Instagram doesn’t earn you any money. It’s an addictive form of procrastination that damages your mental health. So try not to do too much of it.
I personally undertook a MAJOR social media detox with great results. You can read about my experiences here.
50. Don’t be scared to outsource some tasks
As you start to get busy as a freelancer, you will hit a stage where you won’t be able to do everything yourself.
At that point, it’s wise to try to shake off the feeling that things won’t be done properly unless you do them yourself. In reality, they may NOT be done exactly as you would do them, but that doesn’t make it sensible to plough your time into routine admin tasks when you could be earning money doing client work.
So, don’t be scared to start outsourcing. Over the years I’ve outsourced various things, from clerical jobs to article writing. Sometimes it’s worked out perfectly, other times I’ve…learned from the experience! But at the end of the day, you are just one person, with only so much time. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
When we recently interviewed the CEO of Freelancer.com, he was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of outsourcing small tasks. You quickly realise the possibilities it opens up.
51. Find your own household rhythm
A lot has changed in the world since I first published this list of freelancing tips. Many of us now have far less time and space at home, especially if we are juggling work with childcare.
Take a look at this article, which will help you with productivity under difficult circumstances.
52. Beware of “busy work”
The last of my freelance tips is around avoiding what I call “busy work.” This is that work that looks and feels productive, but doesn’t actually do anything to move your business forward or make you any money.
My personal “busy work” specialities include endlessly checking my website stats, making sure my clutter and junk email folders don’t contain anything important, and keeping an eye on tiny little streams of revenue. All of these are things I could do once per day or less, but they have a tendency to become a compulsion.
If you fall into the “busy work” trap, try to work on it. All that time really adds up.
That concludes my rather epic list of tips for freelancers. I didn’t expect it to end up adding up to over 6000 words! Still, I hope you’ve found lots of helpful information within. If you have any freelance tips of your own to share, please use the comments section!
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.