GUEST POST | 12 Ways to Become a Successful Freelancer
Oh, hello! My name is Marii Nieves and I am the Founder of Pink Studios - a full-service boutique digital marketing provider; specializing in digital media presence for small & medium-sized businesses; and you probably heard about me and my story, here.
A little over a year ago, Pink Studios stopped being a part-time gig to become a full-time-with-overtime monster - and I could not be happier about it. Regardless, I feel the obligation to admit that making the decision to quit my full-time job as a Digital Marketing Director at a multimillion dollar company was not easy. Not at all. You can read about it here.
The financial stability, the routine, the classic “what would people say?” and “what if I fail?”, were constant thoughts running through my brain.
Why are we wired this way though? Instead, why don’t we think “I am confident in myself”, “I can do this!”, “I will kick-ass!”, “I will prove them wrong.”
When you are making a decision like this, you are allowed 5 minutes to be sissy and curl up in a corner; after that you gotta pull up your big girl pants, be gangsta and say: “I’ll get this shit done!”
Being organized and establishing processes and routines made this journey a whole lot easier. Today, I am sharing with you my favorite tips to becoming a successful freelancer and get things done:
1. Establish some sort of online presence to present your services.
People spend the vast majority of their time online. Whatever your industry is, you need to make sure that if people are searching for people like you - they can find you. Whether it’s a website, Facebook Business Page, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. Be there.
2. Update your personal social networks, specially Linkedin.
Everyone you are connected with should be aware that you are now flying-solo and that they can reach you for special projects. ambinity has a GREAT article about it: 10 Ways to Maximize your LinkedIn Profile
3. Create a routine.
When you become a freelancer, you are most likely to work from home; distractions and convenience might come in your way. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you get to wake up at 10:30am, take 3 hour lunch breaks and squeeze in a Netflix marathon. Get up early, fix yourself a cup of coffee or tea, eat breakfast, dress up and get to work. At the beginning, you might find it annoying but trust me, it gets you in the right mindset.
4. Organization + a project/task management app are key!
In order to be successful at #4, you NEED to have a proper way to manage tasks. Something I have learned over this past year is that whether I successfully execute my morning routine or not; if I don’t have a set list of what I need to work on the next day - my morning is wasted! Ain’t nobody got time for that! So, before your day ends make a list of all the things you have pending; that way the next day you’ll be ready to get stuff done instead of wasting time running in circles figuring out where things were left off the day prior.
But how do I make my to-do lists? Paper? App? Both? This is something I get asked constantly. Paper lists are great until you go to a meeting or to work somewhere else and you left your list at home.That sucks! You can use post-its if necessary for quick reminders; but… hey, we are not The Flintstones - use the technology resources available. There are great tools such as: Asana, Trello (my favorite) and Basecamp that can work wonders. Are you using any of these?
5. Setup a dedicated workspace.
I need to brag for a second - I LOVE, LOVE <3 my workspace! Now that I got that off my system I have to tell you something. Working remotely and having your office be a home-office is hard! To be able to focus all of my energy on work, I needed to set up a dedicated space where I could forget about all the distractions around, be inspired and really get to work.
A few essentials for me: Macbook Pro, external monitor, bluetooth keyboard and mouse, lamp, lavender candles, comfortable chair, speaker, couch - mostly for visits and when I want to change scenarios a little bit. Make it work for you!
Shop Mari's Office Must Haves!
6. Get your numbers in place.
Hopefully you’ll start making money soon and once you have to fill your taxes, etc; you’d need to have everything in place. At the moment, I swear by Wave App. It allows me to send estimates, convert them to invoices, send payment reminders, track outstanding balances and expenses. It has worked wonders for me and those I have recommended it to. Try it out and let me know.
7. Use a contract or agreement for every project.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a small project or a large one - you want everything discussed and covered. This will save you a lot of time and headaches. There are different website that provide pre-made proposals, contracts and agreement that you can sign up for such as Proposify. Alternatively, you can also sit down with an attorney to make sure everything is covered.
8. Rate cards.
Depending on your industry, this may be viable or not. Set some time to define your pricing structure. Are you gonna charge per hour? Per project? Per service? Establish those from the beginning, that way, making proposals will be a breeze instead of a nightmare.
9. Limit distractions.
Distraction could be your worst enemy; from watching TV to laying down for a second (that turn out to be 2 hours) and our fatal attraction: social media. I am a firm believer that you need to work hard but breaks are 100% necessary. There are several apps that can help you with this. From Focus (download for iOS | download for Android) which focuses on the Pomodoro technique to Freedom, ColdTurkey (download for Mac | download for Android) and InMoment (download for iPhone) which allow you to track and/or block time spent on social networks or a list of websites you determine for a certain period to allow you to better focus on getting things done.
10. Ask for testimonials.
From past clients, to ex-bosses, supervisors, colleagues, etc… they probably have great things to say about you. The easiest way to compile all of these is to ask for Recommendations on LinkedIn. From there you can extract their testimonials and use on your website and promotional material. It is always encouraged that you let them know that you will be using their testimonials - I highly doubt they will say no, but it is a courtesy.
11. Don’t be afraid to say “no”.
Choose your clients carefully. You are allowed to say “no”. Is this new client from an industry you don’t feel 100% comfortable with? Does it not align with your business values and standards? Do you feel like the chemistry is not there? Are you fully booked but don’t want to say “no” because “it’s a new gig”? Don’t feel bad. That is absolutely okay. This will happen and you need to be ready to tackle these type of situations. My recommendations, draft a nice email and propose a plan: either let them know that at the moment you are not able to work with them and, if possible, provide an alternative vendor to fulfill their needs.
12. Never stop learning.
Easy as that. Information is at our fingertips these days. Never stop learning. Find ways where you can increase your knowledge on certain topics and trends and even find time to learn new things. Doing so will allow you to stay up to date and be able to react within your industry when something is relevant.
BONUS: The occasional day off is totally fine!
People ask me: “how do you stay motivated every single day of the week” and my answer is: “sometimes I don’t”. Their reaction is priceless. The reality is, this is one of the perks of being your own boss. You set your time and if you don’t feel productive for a moment, it is okay to take the day off if necessary.
On days like that I like to catch up on my Netflix queue, watch crappy reality shows (this right here is my guilty pleasure) from Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, RHOA and RHONJ, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Botched, Naked and Afraid, Shark Tank and I also love to read a good book, listen to podcasts and try and just pay with Pakko Petardo and Lola Inés del Pilar.
Last but not least, make sure you make the most out of your time as a freelancer or entrepreneur. Get stuff done. This is your time. Don’t ever let your creativity die. Do you have additional tips or questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
If you want to reach out to me, I am always available via inbox or you can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. See you there.
Meet our Guest Blogger
I’m Marii, your Facebook-loving, goal-crushing, digital marketing-obsessed professional. I’m a Computer Engineering turned digital marketing-entrepreneur who believes in the power of helping others succeed in life or their businesses with the right tools by their side. Founder of Pink Studios and The Digital Strategy Lounge and mom of #PakkoyLola.
Wanna know me? Shoot me a message here or here.