Freelancing is an increasingly popular alternative to your typical 9-5 graduate job. It’s become increasingly easy to set up as a freelancer, compete for jobs and reap swift financial rewards all while building an impressive portfolio of real commercial experience. For those interested in becoming their own boss you can view our Ultimate Guide To Setting Up As A Freelancer here which contains everything you could possibly need to know.
More companies than ever are seeing the benefits of hiring a remote & flexible workforce of freelancers. With benefits of being able to easily scale the size of your workforce up and down in an affordable way as well as having the advantage of testing relationships before committing to a full time hire it’s no wonder that this trend is taking off. By 2020, it’s estimated that half of the UK’s labour force will be working from home.
However, moving from an office environment to a home working environment can be a huge shock to the system and opens up a whole new can of worms. Here’s how to overcome those daily struggles and enjoy freelancing for what it is: freedom.
The ease of procrastinating
For all of us, being productive at home and trying to get chores done is always an uphill battle. It can be tempting to relax a little bit too much while you have these precious moments at home. This is why bringing your professional life into the home has some inherent risks of not being your most productive.
A good solution is to completely separate your workspace from other areas of the home. Perhaps invest in another desk and place it in a room with no distractions. Removing things such as TVs, sofas, bottles of wine, and anything else likely to distract you from completing important work is important. Save these items for your downtime, not when you should be working.
But if this isn’t possible you could still organise your room and firmly divide home from work-related items. Perhaps lock away any tech or gadgets for the day so you’ll have less to distract you. Household chores can be another distraction and you should make sure to get them out of the way in a set time outside of your work hours.
It’s also an idea to eliminate everything not helping your task on your laptop. Closing down email programs, shutting off your phone, and removing all unnecessary windows and tabs are a good start. These will help to avoid any immediate distractions.
You could also invest in time-tracking and productivity apps like RescueTime, which is available on most devices. The app’s ‘Focus Mode’ will block everything but what you’re working on, so you’re powerless to procrastinate.
You can even automate the process of analysing your day. RescueTime will also track what you do on all your devices and tell you how productive you’re being. Once you notice some patterns forming, you’ll see what’s wasting your time and work out a system to automate those activities.
Handling a million tasks all at once
Having to be organised is necessary for everyone, but especially so for freelancers. Any business has many different facets and, as a self-employed freelancer, you control all of these. You’re in charge and if you want to get things done, you’ll need to handle it until you can pay someone.
You need to manage everything from your financials through to finding new clients and don’t forget about the actual work you’ll need to do. Success means being able to handle all of these activities at once, without letting stress compromise your efficiency.
Mounting backlogs of work are made more stressful by repetitive admin tasks. But these are reduced if you take common documents and save them as a template. If you have a great cold email you send out to prospective clients, you can store it in Google Drive or Evernote. Then it’s quick to copy and paste into an email so you can personalise it for a potential lead.
Your to-do list is your best friend. It’ll help you manage what needs to get done as well as reminding you of what you have achieved versus what still needs to be done. It’s easy to organise your tasks on Wunderlist, which is also free and fun to use.
You should also keep your documents organised and separated into logical folders. Perhaps have a folder for each month of work you do and keep unfinished documents on your desktop.
Have a set time every week when you back up your work online (for instance with iCloud or Time Machine on Mac, or OneDrive in Windows) and print out the necessary documents if you need hard copies. This will help you to avoid disasters, feel on top of things and meet that deadline on time.
Having to constantly adapt
Today’s digital generation is used to rapid change, but not necessarily capable of changing themselves to survive tomorrow. Freelancers are expected to never rest on their laurels, and to be on the constant lookout for new in-demand skills.
The key is to never let your skills remain static. Research the trends in your field and find out where there are skills gaps. Then you’ll be able to find opportunities where there are new opportunities with less competition whilst future proofing your skill set at the same time.
Make sure you’re always learning something new and putting aside at least a couple of hours a week to pursue that new ability. Have a certain place in your house that you sit at specifically every time you want to read that book or use that website to develop the skill. (Here are 5 websites where you can learn to code.)
Unfamiliar payment methods and currency fluctuations
The currency you are familiar with may not be the one used by the client living on the other side of the world. In a world of unstable currency rates this presents a challenge to your freelancing career.
Don’t be afraid of remaining open to international clients, as they will offer more diverse opportunities. But remember to maintain a rough awareness of exchange rates and think about how they may impact your upcoming payments – for instance, by leaving you with less than you were hoping for.
You may also have to battle with unfamiliar payment methods as in certain parts of Europe and Asia, PayPal and similar platforms are not yet available. You have to negotiate with the client about suitable payment methods and, if they’re unfamiliar, then do your research to make sure they’re safe and secure for you.
Dealing with difficult clients
Although most businesses are likely to be pleasant there will be occasions when you and a business or client will not agree. Negotiations may feel daunting, especially when going up against a big business with no employer or guide of your own. Knowing your rights as a freelancer is important and you’ll know when someone is legally overstepping the mark.
It can be useful to find a trusted lawyer in these situations but only as a use of last resort as the costs you’ll incur will be sure to rack up. We’re not legal by any stretch of the marks, so please don’t take it as so but from our experience it’s best to approach any conversations with difficult clients in a calm and professional manner. Try not to let emotion into the mix.
Late payments can also complicate the issue of money management. It’s always good practice to have savings in the bank to ensure that you won’t be in trouble if the incoming cash flow dries up.
Services like Talent Cupboard have escrow on certain projects so that freelancers are given a bit more peace of mind when dealing with clients and ensures a smoother transaction at the end of a project.
Feeling reclusive all the time
What many freelancers dislike about their jobs is having to stay indoors for long periods of time, in the same place where they eat, drink and sleep. You may begin to feel restless, depressed, and annoyed by the fact that here’s no physical separation between the working and relaxing parts of your day. It all occurs in the same place.
A good way to overcome this dead-end feeling is to do something outside of the house as soon as you’ve finished your work for the day. You could go the gym, go out for dinner, take a long walk or organise something else with friends.
If you have this to look forward to, then you might work better during the day, and you’ll have a sense of leaving work when you go to do it. Perhaps aim to finish work at a specific time every day like you would in a full-time job. Be flexible if necessary but give your timetable structure and order when possible.
Furthermore, make sure that your workspace is as attractive, comfortable and as visually stimulating as possible. You should decorate it personally and creatively in order to want to spend time there.
You might be surprised how your workplace atmosphere changes if you have motivational quotes tacked everywhere; colourful walls and photos that make you smile. Your success is greatly dependent on your mental and emotional health. If you’re comfortable in your workplace, you won’t feel bad about staying indoors.
However, landing a paying gig will sometimes require going to arty or technology-related events, introducing yourself to industry professionals and telling them what you can do. If they don’t have anything for you, ask them about other employers, future events and general industry trends. You can also find more events on Facebook.
Do this as much as possible and reach out of your comfort zone – it’s a good way to get out of the house yet still building your business and getting more work.
Setting up as a freelancer can feel dauntingly complicated. But completing your obligations only requires using simple habits and a little bit of tech aimed at the modern professional. When your willpower is failing and the struggle is real, remember that the solution, sometimes, is just to go back to basics.
If you’re looking for freelance gigs with friendly clients then make sure to sign up to talentcupboard.com today. We’re passionate about helping to connect student & graduate freelancers with freelance projects to help them find work, build experience and get paid for it.