Starting out as a freelance web professional is such an exciting/scary experience. You’ve thrown your talents out there into the market and hope that you can find success. If you went all-in and made freelancing your full-time career, you are challenged with finding a steady stream of work.
Finding work is only part of the challenge, though. As the old saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for”. Booking projects means that you’re going to have to manage them. Taking care of several websites simultaneously is a big responsibility and you need a system to make it all work.
Let’s take a look at a few things that can help you take charge and better serve your clients.
In a perfect world, you’d treat all projects equally. Last time I checked, however, perfection was not among the world’s many attributes. That means we should find ways to prioritize our projects.
Projects which have a tight deadline and will make you the most money should (in general) come first. Schedule yourself enough time on a daily or weekly basis to take care of your most pressing tasks. The rest of your time can be spent knocking out the smaller, less urgent items on your list.
Keep Task Lists
Speaking of lists, you should really consider keeping a list of tasks to be done for each project. I love Trello for this purpose. I use it to keep a running self-dialogue of what I’ve done and still need to accomplish for each project I’m working on.
There are several apps and online services to help you visualize your to-do list. But you could also use a text document or good old paper and pencil. Just having a way to see your tasks laid out in front of you can help you stay on top of them.
We all want to please our clients. That said, what if every one of them asked for something to be done on the same day? Would you keep saying, “No problem, I can do it…”? Probably not the best idea.
While we can’t necessarily eliminate last-minute tasks from coming in, we can set expectations of how long other tasks will take. Look at your workload and give an honest assessment of when you’ll have time for a client’s project. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a bit of cushion just in case things are busier than expected.
Then, if you are able to deliver the project sooner than you originally stated, you’ll look like a web superhero! That makes clients happy and will help keep you sane.
Know Your Limits
While it may sound obvious, many of us do not quite know our limitations when it comes to taking on projects. Freelancers are a confident and talented lot and we often believe there’s no project we can’t tackle.
Limitations are different for everyone. Some of us don’t mind working as many nights and weekends as needed. Others value leisure time with family and friends.
The bottom line here is to take on an amount of projects that you are comfortable handling. If it’s going to stress you out and interfere with your other responsibilities, you may want to think twice about signing up.
Putting it All Together
While talent certainly goes a long way in this line of work, you also need to possess a certain level of organization and responsibility to make your freelance business flourish.
Create a process that you’re comfortable with for your business. Organize and prioritize your tasks. Know what your schedule will and won’t allow you to do. Above all, keep things as simple as possible. This will help you stay on top of your to-do list and keep projects on schedule.