When you’re just starting as a freelancer, work is challenging to come by. You’re probably ecstatic to land any gig. Later on, though, you might find that jobs pile up. That client list gets longer, and you always seem to be juggling multiple projects on the fly.
Have you taken on too much work? Considering that even big businesses would hold integration consulting before taking on mergers and acquisitions, you must manage your current and future jobs as a one-man brand. Here are some approaches to consider:
Impose your organization
It’s easy to understand how a new freelancer with a blank schedule can be so flexible. Meetings and deadlines get arranged according to the client’s convenience. But if you don’t keep a level perspective, things can change while your method of operation remains anchored in a reality that doesn’t exist.
When you’re handling multiple clients, you can’t simply say yes to every request. Now is the time to get serious about your organization and impose it. Don’t just create a calendar for yourself. Share it with all your clients so that they can view how your schedule is blocked off.
Take things a step further and use collaboration tools like Trello so that you can hold other people working on the project accountable. The last thing you want is to miss your own deadlines because someone else failed to deliver what you needed promptly.
Quantify opportunity costs
The freelancer who’s just grateful to be handling projects and still enamored of their flexible lifestyle can easily overlook the value of opportunity costs. Suppose you have regular work from one client amounting to 6 hours per day, five days a week, at $25/hour. You then take on another client offering the same workload and rates.
You might be thinking it’s an all-upside deal. Working 12 hours a day is manageable since you’re flexible, and you’ve just doubled your income. But in the process, you could lose the chance to take on more lucrative, short-term contracts. You might not have enough free time to pursue passion projects or learn new skills.
And now that you’ve committed to two regular clients, it can be difficult to free up a full day or two should you need a break. Find a system to quantify time and opportunity costs, and prioritize your best client. Increase your rates for each additional commitment. Your remaining time will become a scarce and more valuable resource.
Outsource and collaborate
If you’ve already said yes to too much work, there’s one solution you might find simple and effective right away: share the workload. Collaborating with other freelancers can be a great way to trim what’s on your plate while expanding your network and potentially receiving referrals. Just make sure that your clients are alright with this, and ensure that the work is of high quality.
Alternatively, you can resort to the standard business practice of outsourcing. Identify tasks that you don’t like and are relatively easy to handle for someone willing to work at a lower rate. Repetitive work such as scheduling or file management can be handed off to a virtual assistant and free up some of your time, allowing you to focus on more rewarding tasks.
By implementing these steps now, you can begin to streamline your freelance workload and properly uphold the value of your time.