I’ve been doing freelance work part time for seven years, and I began doing it full time four years ago. It’s been an interesting little roller coaster, with plenty of ups (This is amazing and I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this my entire adult life!), downs (Oh crap. I’m going to have to get a real job again.), and smooth stretches (When was the last time I wore real pants? Who cares?).
I’ve learned a lot, and there’s far more than I could fit into any single blog post, but here are a few tips for keeping your freelance business running smoothly:
Take an admin day at least once a week. Go over your due dates, pay your bills, organize your desk. Do all the things you don’t normally have time to do because you’re too busy writing! It doesn’t even have to be a full day, but maybe a couple of hours. Just keep it scheduled every week so you don’t miss it.
Keep a spreadsheet of your due dates. I always have them written in my desk planner, but it really helps me get a good assessment of what I’ve got coming up for the next couple of months if I can see it all laid out in front of me. In fact, I keep a lot of spreadsheets!
Always give more than you promise. This applies to any job. If you tell your client you’ll have their project in by the 10th, give it to them by the 8th. Don’t let anything leave your computer without being thoroughly proofread, even if you know they’ll have an editor look over it as well. Never think of your jobs as anything less important than your own writing, and give them your all. The biggest compliment you can get is for a client to hire you again, and they’ll be likely to do it if they know they can expect quality work from you.
Stay in touch with your clients. We’re all human, and things happen. Maybe you’re sick, or your child is sick, or your gecko died and you just can’t even. Things happen, and you might occasionally not be able to meet your deadlines. Call or email your clients and let them know you’ll be running a little late. Most of the time, you’ll find that they’ll be very understanding., and they’ll also be grateful to you for being upfront with them.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It can be very tempting to take every job you’re offered. After all, the more you work the more money you make! But it won’t be worth it if you’re staying up all night to get projects in before the deadline, and you won’t be making as much money if your clients stop hiring you because your quality is slipping. Schedule out your due dates carefully, and always add a little extra padding in there for emergencies. As noted above, things happen, and it’s nice to know you can take a morning off to watch Star Trek now and then.
Have any other tips for freelancers? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.
34 responses to “Tips for a Successful Freelance Business”
these are very great tips
How do you get started in freelance writing?
Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I actually plan to do a blog post on that exact subject very soon. Have you done any professional writing before?
No I haven’t 😦
That’s okay! You could try checking out some freelancing sites like Upwork or Freelancer.
okay i will check it out, thank you! I look forward to your next blog. : )
Adding to your comment about manageable workloads, I remember when I was freelancing commercially some time back, when I was overloaded my quality of outcome dropped. Let’s not forget we are in a creative industry and taking it easy helps you a lot…
Agreed! I feel I benefit greatly from a little down time. I often have to force myself not to work on weekends.
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Thank you for sharing this!
No problem! There will be more in the future!
Solid tips. And very concisely put, making it a short but informative read. Thank you.
Creating a spreadsheet is something I just started to do last week. It’s been a great help in keeping my days planned and trying to get certain projects done. Thank you for putting up this list.
Thanks for stopping by!
Always give more than you promised is what i really really believe in. It helps in building trust with the customers/clients. I being a public speaking and business trainer always follow this rule.
Awesome advice! Thanks for sharing!
Anytime! Thanks for stopping by!
Great read thanks for sharing! 🙂
As a college sophomore, most of these tips work for my papers (switch clients with professors and boom, freelance is just essays! go figure). I want to get into freelance work soon, so these tips are a big help. Thank you so much!
Glad it was helpful! What degree are you pursuing?
Middle Grades Education with a focus on science and English. I’m thinking about minoring in creative writing or something like that!
Sounds like fun! I originally went for biology. I loved it, plus I believed everyone when they said an English degree was a waste. But I never really used my bio degree, went back for creative writing, and I write full time. 🙂
I would love to write full time. I want to do middle grades because I love the kids. I think that the current education system doesn’t encourage curiosity and growth, and I want to create an environment where it is actually fun to learn. I know I can’t do everything I want, and that this may change in the future, but I sincerely hope I can help at least one child out.
I want the creative writing minor for a book I want to write. I’m in the world building process right now though, so it will be a while!
thanks for the post! I particularly got a lot out of the point to givce yourself allotted time for admin!
It’s one of those things that gets swept under the rug otherwise! Thanks for stopping by.
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I actually found one of your pieces advice to be useful during my internship, too. I’ve always agreed that getting things done exceptionally well and EARLY is a big part of being noticed. I’m glad you decided to point that out!
Thanks, and you’re right. It applies to many areas.
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