You may have heard of the famous book that inspired millions of individuals with the seven habits to becoming highly effective people. But how do these principles apply to freelancing in today’s gig economy?
Freelancers are increasingly representing more of the American workforce, and the appeal of the autonomous lifestyle continues to spread. Here we explore the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Freelancers: lifestyle decisions that will determine whether or not you make it or break it in the world of freelancing.
1. Research constantly
From the moment you conceive your unique service to the day of your first gig, it is important to understand the market in which you are competing. Look up the local and corporate businesses offering similar services, note their pricing, and try to maintain a competitive edge. Are there other freelancers in your area? Don’t be afraid to ask for advice on what they find successful or to suggest a work collaboration.
Stay up-to-date on the latest freelancing strategies and technologies. Apps like Moonlighting are built specifically for freelancers in any field and provide another means for you to promote and manage your freelance business. Take advantage of proposals, invoicing, advertising, and other cool features that keep you plugged in to the freelance world.
2. Stay organized
It may be the most telling characteristic of a successful freelancer. It is important to always maintain a level of professionalism, and one way to do that is by being organized. Keep track of invoices, receipts, and all written contracts or agreements. This kind of self-accountability will impress potential clients and will likely be mentioned in any referral.
Additionally, it is important to maintain a detailed calendar. Not having a thorough, complete understanding of all your meetings and deadlines is one way to lose the trust of a client. When in doubt, add it to the calendar.
3. Be an offensive player
Anyone who leaves the world of full-time work will quickly realize that the jobs don’t come to you. You have to go out and find them. As a freelancer, it is important to get into the habit of promoting yourself constantly. Creating and maintaining a solid brand, developing a marketing strategy, and taking advantage of social networks are crucial to supply yourself with a steady inflow of gigs.
Successful freelancers will also take advantage of technology that helps self-promotion. Your social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, but it can also be a fantastic way to let people know what you can do. Don’t be afraid to post pictures or testimonials––it could mean a referral by a friend that might lead to a job.
4. Learn your workload
As your own boss, it can be tempting to take on any and every job that comes your way. But everyone has their limit. Be sure not to take on more tasks than you can complete, otherwise, you risk burning out, doing a job poorly, and losing a working relationship.
This is a habit that must be learned, unfortunately. It may take a few attempts at balancing workloads before a successful freelancer is able to gauge the number of jobs they can be juggling at one time. If there is too much on your plate, learn to outsource your extra work to other freelancers.
5. Be professional
It is important that your client does not just see you as a person, but as a one-person business. Whatever the situation, remain professional. If you are speaking over email, be sure you understand email etiquette, and always check for spelling mistakes before sending a message. If you are speaking to a client in person, make sure you are polite and friendly. Some eye contact and a smile could go a long way.
6. Follow up
After you have completed a job, you should always follow up with a client. Thank them for the opportunity and let them know how much you enjoyed working with them. Ideally, you will establish a relationship that promises recurring or regular work, something every freelancer is glad to have.
Additionally, you should never be afraid to ask for a referral. Let your clients know about the other services you offer and, if you did a good job, don’t be afraid to ask for a written review.
7. Rest and balance
All work and no play makes Johnny a dull freelancer. Make sure that you are making time for you, your family, and your hobbies. Yes, it is important to work hard and generate a consistent and steady income, but you will easily burn out if you do not allow yourself a little leisure time.
As a freelancer, it can be difficult to know where work stops and home life begins. Establish some rules that keep these two separate –– don’t check your mail in bed, or don’t use your computer after a certain time of night. Make sure you exercise regularly and create a routine for your mornings and evenings that leaves you feeling refreshed. A good book, time with friends and family, and meditation are great ways to give yourself some much-deserved rest.
Becoming an effective and successful freelancer looks different for everyone, but understanding and adopting these seven habits, and throwing in a little hard work, is one way to ensure a career that makes you proud to call yourself a freelancer.
This article was originally featured in the USA Today.