My Three Phresh Tips for New Freelancers

Following the 2009 global recession, there’s been an upsurge in not only entrepreneurship, but freelancing as well with progressively more individuals (probably including you) venturing out on their own to chase their dreams in the business world. While this step towards self-employment can often be a daunting adventure, when done correctly, the rewards are worth the hard work and sacrifice.

In collaboration with Invoice2Go (a leading invoice app and resource), I will be sharing three tips focused on time management, self-motivation, and social media that are guaranteed to help make you a better freelancer for the voyage ahead.

1. Create and maintain a timesheet to track all your work.
It is important that your time and your customers’ time are never wasted, since “time is money”. You want to ensure that all your deadlines are always met within the mutually agreed time frame. A timesheet or personal time log is one of the best tools to help with your productivity. There is a lot of software out there, but Microsoft Excel is just as effective. Try to make it as detail as possible, capturing minutes, hours, and days spent per task/project, in addition to project categorisation. You will know what projects you can take on and when. With recorded data on your previous projects, it will give you a good idea of how long it takes you on average to complete a specific project. So let’s say it takes you 8 hours to complete a project and three prospective customers offered you separate projects today with the same deadline. Under a 24-hour turnaround policy, for instance, you would know realistically that one project would have to be declined.

Richard Branson - autobio cover
It’s an incredible autobiography that displays both life and business lessons

2. Stay motivated by reading books and blog posts by established founders and CEOs.
Freelancing can be challenging and some days you will feel like giving up on your pursuits. Reading is not only the gateway to tapping into knowledge, but it is a reliable source to discover inspiration. Find personalities in business and entrepreneurship that you look up to and then get your hands on their biographies, autobiographies, and blog posts and learn as much as possible. I can almost guarantee you will absorb a lot from their personal and professional experiences. Personally, I look to Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group Founder and CEO) who always has a lot of insight and inspiration to share with readers. In Branson’s autobiography Losing My Virginity, I took away a myriad of lessons such as taking risks; going against the status quo; negotiating good deals; reinvention; always keeping a notebook handy; and trusting your instincts. It is definitely worth leafing through.

Modern Keyboard With Colored Social Network Buttons.
Figure out what platforms your target audience and clients are already using and go to them

3. Maintain steady social media presence across platforms used by your target audience and customers.
Take the time to develop your own social media strategy with clear goals and objectives. Be consistent with how you post, present yourself, your products and services, and the content you share across social media platforms. Branding is paramount to your success. It is important that you spend the time to figure out who your target audience and intended customers are and use the social media platforms that they will mostly likely be on for the most reach. If your target audience are young people, they will most likely be using Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. The professional crowd will be using platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. In my case, I use around six platforms, including Pinterest, which is such an underrated channel for exposure. I also found it’s important to get into blogging and creating video content.

Don’t Use Stock Photography Unless You’ve Paid for It

Yesterday I went to a restaurant to try their food and looked up at the menu board in sheer horror! There’s nothing worse than seeing a great graphic design with the watermark ‘Shutterstock‘ over a visual component. The possibility exists that this could have been an FPO (For Position Only) that the graphic designer failed to replace before print.

An accurate re-enactment of my horror

As a designer, it is your biggest responsibility to your paying client to ensure you thoroughly review your work to eliminate errors so they get the best product attainable. If you want really good images, consider the following options:

  1. Paying for it via Shuttershock, Getty Images or iStockphoto
  2. Searching using Google Images
  3. Visit free photo sites like Flickr, Death to the Stock Photo and Stockvault
  4. Taking your own images based on your client’s needs

The latter isn’t such a bad thing, especially when you’ve just created original material.

Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography
Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger
Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography

If you choose to go that route, there are plenty tips and tricks on photography and with smartphones only getting better and better, you don’t need to have an expensive digital SLR camera to capture great images.

So just to recap, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, use stock images with a watermark over it! It’s in bad taste and cheapens the overall look of your work. If you’re aiming to be a professional then try to be better than that mediocre, be great!