I started doing freelance gigs nearly ten years ago when my second child was born and my eldest was in part-time nursery. I was lucky enough to pin down work-from-home contracts, but working as a freelancer wasn’t plain sailing.
While it’s obviously great being able to work around the kids – their school/nursery/nap time schedules. If you’re not careful, it can all get a bit – well – bitty. Constantly snatching at moments. Fitting things in. Juggling.
And that’s no way to treat your clients work, is it!
Here are some handy tips which have served me well over the years:
1. Do yourself a favour and get some help – whether it’s a child-minder, friends, grandparents, part-time nursery – you simply can’t put in any serious work (read ‘quality’) if you’re simply trying to fit things in. Speaking from experience, there’s simply no way round this. Your client needs and deserves 500% from you, you need to focus in order to deliver. End of.
2. Cram your work into allotted time slots – for example 8:00 to 12:00pm while the little one is at part-time nursery. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll be able to achieve. When you know that you only have a short-window of time to get things done, you won’t waste time browsing around the Internet or catching up with your mates on social media.
3. And while we’re on the subject of social media – schedule time either in the evening or at the weekend to schedule your posts and updates. You should only be checking in on your social media accounts a couple of times a day, to respond and engage with your followers. Turn notifications off! Think about it. Do you really need to respond to someone (Like their updates, RT their Tweets) every single time you hear that ping?
4. Don’t neglect your marketing – OK, so this doesn’t literally help with juggling around your preschoolers, but you’re often so busy chasing from one project to the other (and then heads down when you’ve landed it), that you don’t allow time to promote yourself in between projects. Ideally, you should be using every available opportunity to promote yourself while you’re working.
For example, let’s suppose you’re working on your client’s new website, when you stumble across a few glitches. This could be the subject of your next blog post. So, you could draft up the main thoughts and ideas, leave it in draft to return to later, then pad out the details, publish and then promote it. Of course, it needn’t be a blog post. It could equally be a white paper that you give away as a sign-up gift to your Newsletter ’10 Common Web Design Mistakes – And How To Avoid Them’. Or a handy guide for your existing clients, for new clients … you get the idea. There’s no excuse for ‘feast and famine’ syndrome anymore.
5. Invest in yourself/your biz – We’re good at battling it alone (us mums) “I can cope” we think. And usually, we can. But if you want to see serious profits in your biz, then you’ll need to invest serious time and effort into it. Simply taking a look at things like how you can streamline some of your processes, or how you can automate them, create service packages, collect payments up front – small tweaks that could make a vast difference.
As I say, they’ve served me well. But how about you? What tips would you add?