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!
* * *
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.