Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spending to Promote Yourself as a Freelancer (Part 2)

Here are the two remaining essentials on which you must spend to sustain your freelance business:

(4.) Your own website

If you do graphic design, illustration, web site development, or offer a variety of writing services, then you must make it easy for potential clients to see samples of your previous work.

Provide your contact information, making sure that you spell out your email address or Skype ID correctly.

Make your website easy to navigate, and give it an overall look of uniformity. When in doubt, you can hire someone to tweak it so you can present yourself as capable, efficient, and ready to do the job. 

(5.) A portfolio

A portfolio would be beneficial for advertising copywriters, since you need a place to insert spec ads and how the advertisement actually came out in a brochure, flyer, or magazine. 

Most freelance professionals purchase binders with plastic sheets to use as portfolios. Editors and proofreaders will find it convenient to insert the "before" and "after" versions of resumes and other documents inside the plastic sheets and show them to potential clients.

In my next few articles, I'll talk about the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in the online world of article writing. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spending to Promote Yourself as a Freelancer

As a freelance worker, you should leave no room in your schedule for passivity and idleness. Part of the time, you should be actively soliciting projects or pitching your services to your target clientele.

That's why I'm a firm believer that once you've spent a year or two in the freelancing business and have established a regular cash flow, you must set aside a portion of your income on a few materials that can help you advertise your services and increase your number of clients.

Here are just several of the essentials on which you must spend as a freelance worker:

(1.) A business card

This is especially helpful when you attend networking events where potential clients may inquire about what you do. Have several of these tucked snugly inside your wallet should someone ask for your contact information. 

You don't have to spend a fortune on your business card. Just make sure that you have it printed on high-quality card stock. Forget fancy designs and stick to a conservative color scheme and template.

(2.) A professional-looking letterhead

While communicating with your clients through email will save you plenty of time, there are instances when you have to resort to snail mail for several reasons: billing, proper documentation and filing, issues with confidentiality, etc.

Also, there are clients who may have forked out the amount you charged as a flat rate and down payment, but when you ask them to pay the remaining balance upon dispatching the complete work, some of them might try to negotiate with you to give them a longer deadline.

No matter what your clients say about not being able to pay on time, you must see to it that there are no fees left unpaid. Keep in mind that you are every bit like the professionals who are in a company's payroll, and you deserve to be remunerated for all your hard work and effort.

(3.) Your own brochure

As a freelancer, you may not be able to catch the attention of huge advertising agencies, but with a little bit of creativity, you can make your own press kit or write your own press release.

Most computers these days have a built-in publishing software, and a brochure is usually adequate to inform possible clients of your services. You may provide your price quote, or entice potential clients by mentioning "promos" (i.e. discount rates, or anything that you offer for half the price compared to your competitor). 

Stay tuned, because in my next post, I'll cite the two remaining essentials that you should acquire to sustain your freelance business.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coping With Distractions and Interruptions, Part 2

In my previous post, I have cited the first three common types of distractions that are most likely to disrupt a freelancer's routine. Here are the remaining two:

(4.) Household chores

If you do freelance work as your main source of income, make sure that your family understands that you need blocks of uninterrupted time to get your projects done. 

There are plenty of things that you can do to save time on doing chores. You can pay to have your laundry done or hire someone to run errands for you. You can also buy groceries in bulk to lessen the need to shop.

If you have children, get them involved in activities like meal preparation and train them to make their own beds and put away their dirty clothes.

(5.) Unexpected visits

If water, telephone, and electricity bills are still being delivered in your doorstep, check to see if it would be possible for you to pay online, or have a couple of days every month where all you do is settle the bills.

There can also be instances when friends would drop by, wanting some of your time, possibly to talk about concerns or problems with their children, spouse, etc. 

Now, listening to your friends can sap your energy and leave you emotionally drained. But you shouldn't avoid or ditch your friends. In fact, you have to make an effort to maintain the closeness you have, especially since you work at home and will not have plenty of interactions outside. When visits from friends become all too frequent, simply set a date to meet with them, either to have lunch or coffee. It's okay to give yourself a break once in a while.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coping With Distractions and Interruptions

The majority of freelancers work from home, and although there are many advantages that comes with setting your own pace, the freedom of not having a boss or supervisor can have drawbacks, too.

It's a well-known fact that distractions are a freelancer's number one enemy. There are also a thousand and one ways that you can be interrupted if you don't guard your schedule.

But if you're really serious about keeping your freelance business going, you only need to keep a few things in mind. Here are several of the most common distractions that freelancers face and effective ways to minimize or cope with them:

(1.) Telephone calls

I'm not talking about phone calls from your clients. You may have friends who, upon hearing that you decided to work from home, assumed that you now have a lot of discretionary time, and kept badgering you with attempts to engage you in endless chit-chat.

Unwanted phone calls can be extremely time-consuming. The only way to deal with this is to tell people upfront that you will entertain calls only during certain hours, like lunch time or late in the afternoon.

(2.) Television

You're convinced that you can't get your creative juices flowing until you've had some form of "stimulant," so you tune in to the television "just to find out what's on." Before you know it, you're hooked on a popular talk show or soap opera, and what you originally intended to be just a 10-minute channel surfing stretched to an hour. 

I'm not saying television is bad. Instead, try this technique: use it to reward yourself after finishing your tasks for the day. Once you've tackled a project that's been particularly tedious, you'll feel a lot more relaxed and a lot less guilty while watching your favorite show.

(3.) Social media

Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, you name it. If your work as a freelancer requires you to spend time doing research on the Internet, it can be very tempting to log on to these sites to catch up with friends, look at photos, read some piece of gossip, etc.

The key is to monitor the number of hours you spend online. Have a daily to-do list at hand, and resolve to finish most of the tasks on your to-do list before you even think about checking out social media sites.

You can also hit two birds with one stone by composing and sending your business emails on the same day that you plan to write a personal message to your family members or friends.

Stay tuned for my next article installment where I will cite the two remaining distractions that can ruin a freelancer's routine.