The habits of successful freelancers and contractors

Staying on top as a freelancer can sometimes feel like an endless game of snakes and ladders. However many hours you put in, there’s always more that could be done.

Use your time wisely, however, and you’ll find that eight hours a day is plenty. Take heed of these habits and you’ll be leading the pack in no time.

1. Be nimble at networking

Networking is the lifeblood of freelancing. Done effectively, it creates leads and helps you develop lucrative, long-term relationships with clients.

Networking is a crucial skill that a freelancer should master

Although there are no hard-and-fast rules about how to network, ‘winging it’ isn’t a great idea either – there’s more to it than simply working the room. Try these tactics out for size:

  • Commit long-term. Now, we’re not suggesting you serenade prospects with a dozen red roses. However, attending networking events and staying in touch with contacts regularly means you’re likely to stay fresh in their minds. You could also end up getting referrals as a result.
  • Give and you shall receive. Networking is a two-way street. Once your 30-second ‘elevator pitch’ – where you showcase your talents – is done, listen attentively to your contacts’ needs and offer to make introductions or provide useful information.
  • Follow-up (quickly). Memories fade fast, so don’t wait too long before touching base with your contacts. Carpe diem!

Thanks to the good old t’internet, potential clients, fellow freelancers and contractors could be mouse-clicks away. Keep channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook regularly updated, and take advantage of networking sites such as Meetup and Eventbrite.

2. Stick to a schedule

Successful freelancers and contractors understand the importance of having a routine and sticking to it.

Tips from the top include:

  • Timing is everything. Schedule simpler tasks for times when your concentration levels are more suited to Gogglebox than Mastermind.
  • Facebook isn’t your friend – at least not during work hours! Close any apps that distract your attention.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Mix things up and intersperse simple admin tasks with those requiring a little more concentration, like accounting. However, if you’d rather be investing that time elsewhere, why not give My Accountant Friend a buzz?

3. Rev-up your referees

Word-of-mouth marketing is still a powerful form of advertising. Your best clients are your biggest advocates – these people are ready, willing and able to endorse your work.

Keep your clients happy to maximise referrals

Treat the relationship like a potted plant: it needs a sturdy foundation, sure, but ongoing TLC is just as crucial. Keep them happy and once they bloom, they’ll spread the word.

4. Decide when to decline

If you want to be a first-rate freelancer or contractor, your ability to say “no” is critical to your success. Not every proposition will be right for you – here are a few examples:

  • Not your speciality. Unless you have the time (and desire) to learn a new discipline, pass on this assignment. Better still, refer it to another freelancer.
  • Unrealistic deadline. Explain the nuances of the project and negotiate a more realistic timeframe – or bust.
  • Current schedule. You may simply be too busy to take on more work, in which case just say so. Simple, yet effective.

5. Take time out

Make sure you plan a well-earned break to restore your energy levels, and ignore the voice in your head nagging “no work means no pay.”

Taking time out is a very important part of successful freelancing

With the help of My Accountant Friend, you won’t need to worry about finances piling up in your absence, and can concentrate on soaking up the tropical sunshine. Piña colada, anyone?

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