Working from home, finding your own balance, having great autonomy... freelancing sounds dreamy, right? Sure. But landing a sweet gig like this doesn’t come easily. In order to be a freelancer who’s successful and sought-after, consider these helpful steps that will get you from sipping coffee at your office job to brewing it yourself at home.
Balance doesn’t necessarily mean day-to-day harmony, though wouldn’t it be nice if it did? Come to terms with the fact that some seasons are busier than others and replace the lofty idea of achieving day-to-day balance by looking at your work/life scenario as a whole. Get yourself in the mindset of considering balance as the “big picture” type instead of constant and perpetual. How do you get yourself there? Adopt the “change is as good as rest” mentality; sometimes switching up your work can be as therapeutic and corrective as unwinding.
Organization is one of the primary tools to success. Keep everything you’re working on “just so” with tools like Evernote, Asana, and Trello. These platforms help you keep your projects and to-do lists organized. If you choose to bring other people in on your work, tools like these can help you easily share your workflow and projects. The best part? You get to skip writing that dreaded, lengthy email explaining all the updates.
Not twice. When you open an email, respond to it right away. Skimming it and then responding at a later time is only doubling your work. If you’re not in a position to respond, resist the urge to read it immediately upon receiving it. Productivity hacks like this one will help you in busy freelancing seasons.
Not every customer who comes knocking at your door will be beneficial or a good fit. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to those who don’t align with your values or business mission. As you grow in your career, remember to revisit and tweak your values and mission--they change as you do.
Never undervalue the meaning of learning from others. Get together with those who are like-minded and swap ideas in one of many coworking spots around the country — New York city, for example, boasts tons of coworking spaces for freelancers and remote companies alike. Share success and failure stories while building a supporting network. Though it may seem counter-productive, referring one another is beneficial to everyone; you’re helping someone out while also making yourself open to be referred.
I get it — it’s tempting to place a high value on yourself when there are bills to pay. But there’s a better way. Instead, use the following formula to determine your fee: Take your cash compensation and divide by 250 (which is the number of billable days after factoring in vacations, sick time, and typical downtime) and then add 25 to 50 percent, depending on your years of experience.
Don’t get an unwelcome surprise in April. Discipline yourself throughout the entire year by paying taxes quarterly at 30% of your income. When tax season comes around, you’ll be happy you did. Added bonus? This also helps you remain disciplined in other financial areas, like budgeting and saving.
Now, go grab your yoga pants and Macbook and get to work.
Allie Hofer, a self-proclaimed career matchmaker and work-life balance enthusiast, is a Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Society of Human Resource Management - Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), and Recruiter Academy Certified Recruiter (RACR). After having her first child, she opted out of the traditional office setting to work from home. Since then, she has been consulting with organizations in the public and private sectors to support the Human Resources function in recruiting, compensation, training and development, and performance management.
She started Office Hours with the belief that instead of creating resources and companies to help women return to work, we should help them find flexible opportunities so they never have to leave.
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