How to make 2018 a great year in your freelance career

Jan 16, 2018

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

At the beginning of 2017, you may have created your new year goals. Perhaps, some of those goals were related to your work. Seasoned freelancers may have made goals to attain more clients, get more organized, and many other tasks. New freelancers perhaps made goals to at least begin to create a path in freelancing and end on a good note financially and client-wise.

Wherever you are on the journey of freelancing, you are obviously doing a great job (cheers to you!). But, alas, we are here again at a new year and the first quarter of it, which means creating a whole new list of goals in freelancing.

If you are unclear of what goals you may want or need to make for yourself as a freelancer, below are some good starting points that may help you in 2018 in quarter one--and beyond.

Organize Your Clients

Nothing can throw off a freelancer more than disorganized client lists and procedures for each client. Perhaps one client always wants their work due on Friday and another tends to call you on Wednesdays. Getting acquainted with Google Calendar, Slack, and Trello may be great ways to get your 2018 freelancing together.

You can easily plan for each client, assign tasks for certain days, and dedicate certain hours to specific clients without overlap. You can really get yourself deep in a hole if you are not organizing tasks, phone calls, projects, and even just simple login in passwords and usernames by client.

Take the time to create these platforms for yourself and for your sanity and you will begin to see how much less time you are spending trying to keep organized and focus more on the work itself.

Revamp Your Offerings

Seasoned freelancers may have this under control, but as new freelancers you may offer a wide array of different services to put yourself out there and gain clients.

You may do anything from graphic design, coding, content creation for social media and websites, and the list goes on. Sooner or later, you may realize that you are stretching yourself too thin and may be trying to be good at too many things.

While it is great to have a variety, you also want to offer what you do best and not things you may be able to do, but not on a master level.

Take the time to look over what you have done this year, eliminate tasks you feel are not worth offering, and create a more concise list of service offerings for you clients. This will keep you more focused on your main services and take away some of the stress of doing too many different tasks for clients.

Create Clear Work Goals

As freelancers, we are one part employee and one part employer which means we get to do both the work of an employee and run the business as well. This can be a lot when you are focused on making quarterly tax payments and trying to finish a client project at the same time.

You can either continue to move forward at the pace you are at or take the time to take a step back and figure out what you want out of this year in freelancing. Do you want to be able to make enough so you can outsource some of your tasks and free up your time? Do you want to have higher paying clients so you can dwindle your client list down a bit? Whatever your goals are, it is good to clearly state them so that all business decisions you make during the year keep you on task.

Now, life happens, and things do change, but at least having the focus on goals will allow you to make more calculated decisions.

Set Boundaries for Your Work/Life Balance

The biggest issue freelancers can run into, even as seasoned veterans in the field, is losing that balance between work and life. Our home most times is our office, our couch can be our work chair, and lunch and dinner can sometimes blend in with your work day.

We do not clock in or out, so setting up boundaries can be a great way to find that balance.

You can simply put up a signature clearly stating work hours, close the laptop during meals, and sign off at the same time each night from work. Taking time for vacations (sans laptop) is also a good way to create those boundaries.

Some freelancers may feel like this is a kiss of death, but if you do not set up any boundaries, then your clients will not do it for you. You will find clients who may not understand your time away--and perhaps you need to make hard decisions on whether those clients are worth working with--but there will always be clients out there who will understand, so don't be afraid to set up personal boundaries for your health and sanity.

While you never should wait until a new year to make changes in your freelancing, sometimes just seeing the year change one digit is a good clean starting point. Here is to quarter one being great and the three other quarters being even greater with new and positive goals.

Sarah DeGeorge is a content creator and social media marketer. When she isn't helping clients she is most likely helping the stray animal population of Philadelphia or traveling somewhere new.

Sarah DeGeorge

Sarah DeGeorge is a content creator and social media marketer. When she isn't helping clients she is most likely helping the stray animal population of Philadelphia or traveling somewhere new.