The 5 step guide to successful freelance projects

7

Min Read

Vartika Kashyap

You like being the boss, you chose to be a freelancer. You were exhausted from your old 9-5 grind, but you’re here now — freelancing. You're now your own manager, bookkeeper, and mentor - handling invoice templates, quote templates, agreement templates, and time tracking on your own, aiming to constantly deliver successful freelance projects. More and more people follow this trend, breaking the rigid corporate ladder.

If we look at the individuals working on freelance projects over the past decade or so, the numbers are certainly mesmerizing. According to a national survey conducted in the US:

“34% of the entire workforce in America is made of freelancers. This accounts for 53.5 million people. And, these numbers are supposed to increase, with freelancers to rise up to 40% of the total workforce by the end of 2020.”
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The creative class of freelancers

Working for yourself can be a great way to grow and definitely highly rewarding, but this definitely doesn’t come easy. Being your own boss may not always work out. But with the right way of invoicing clients and a potent skill set, you're on your way to successful projects.

Of course, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to successful freelancing. And moreover, there are no silver bullets or magic wands to achieve success. It’s the hard work and right tricks. No matter if you're a graphic designer, web developer, or freelance writer you’ll definitely need to build a successful freelancing profile and an impressive freelance portfolio website, and use other personalized templates such as logo design questionnaires to ensure project success.

The journey to become a successful freelancer comes with a lot of perks. It’s easy to think of it as no fixed hours, no commuting, no boss breathing over your shoulder, no gossips near the water cooler, no useless politics, a great freedom to become a boss, but it also calls for a ‘big responsibility’.

Along with the number of perks, there are also certain pitfalls on the way. You might be knowing this if you've been doing it for quite some time. Right?

The life of a freelancer is certainly not a bed of roses. We are quickly shifting to a “gig economy,” where more people are freelancing every year. Freelancing is growing popularity with every generation making it as a part of their income.

Upwork’s survey reports there will be more Gen Z people than Millennials in the workforce within a year. Therefore, there is a lot to know about the challenges it comes along with: irregular income, feeling alone working all day home, being in charge of accounting and taxes, sales, stationery and even coffee, handling clients, protecting yourself, and probably few difference between work and personal life.

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” - Oprah Winfrey

Freelancing has its pitfalls, but it is exhilarating and liberating. It all comes down to how well you can handle them. Let us help you with this five step guide.

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1. Start building partnerships

They say, “professional freelancers don’t do gigs.” It’s shallow and of low-value. Gigs do not lead to partnerships. You’re a professional freelancer, your goal should be to have a long-term value-client-partner and constantly deliver successful freelance projects.

Make sure your clients also consider you as a partner. Build a reputed relationship rather than a temporary measure. Play the game of quality, not quantity. Before you take up a client, ask yourself: will this gig take me a step closer to my business goals?”

2. Master project management

You’d probably be drowning in the sea of tasks and to-dos because you’re the sole person that your client is depending on. The right project management system for your freelancer business can empower you to streamline everything. Here are a few reasons we believe project management is an important skill for freelancers to master in any niche.

You get the power to put everything in place: such tools will help you deliver successful freelance projects. All the elements of your project will be available easily in one place. You don’t need to jump into your email to check the requirements, look for your documents, or check the due dates. Project management systems give you everything in one place so you can focus on actually doing the work.

You can use such tools to improve your freelance time tracking, as it can become a bit overwhelming when it comes to organizing work and time. A time-tracking tool is like a personal assistant for a freelancer. It helps with keeping track of how many hours you spent working on a freelance project, to be able to bill your client for the time you’ve spent. With project management tools like ProofHub, you can quickly track hours spent working, and make sure you deliver the projects on time.

Strike off the stress of freelancing: managing workload, never-ending to-do lists, and scheduling projects often lead to stress in a freelancer’s life. But by having the right system in place, you can straighten out a messy day.

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3. Wow your clients

You’re working with your dream clients, but how do you keep them? Clients are your life-blood. As a freelancer, you need to know that clients don’t care about services — they want solutions and successful projects. You need to maintain the same level of professionalism from beginning to end, and tread carefully when dealing with scope creep.

You can do this by:

  • Researching their business and competitors
  • Giving them daily updates
  • Going above and beyond to surprise them
  • Working in a organized fashion
  • Keeping in mind they are people, not paychecks
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Being excellent at what you do

Treat your clients right and they’ll always be on your side. They’ll come back and even stay forever if they love you.

Using tools such as Bonsai's all-in-one suite you can impress them with personalized and branded freelance proposals, contracts, or invoices - sign up to your free trial today.

4. Take your time management to the next level

When it comes to making the most of your time, some freelancers find it a bit tricky to manage it all. Remember that you’re in charge of your schedule and time management is crucial for your successful projects. Let’s go over some classic time management techniques.

4.1. The Pomodoro technique

In the late 1980s, the Pomodoro technique was developed as a time management method. Freelancers have a lot of tasks on the list, thus, Pomodoro is very useful. You simply have to pick a task, set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally 25 minutes). This time is for you to focus on the task you picked and keep working on the same task.

Take a 5 minutes break as you complete it. After successfully completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break from 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

4.2. Minimize distractions

Know the difference between breaks and disastrously addictive distractions like social media. Take breaks but do not take too long breaks that it becomes a distraction. Take care of emails that only require a quick response and reduce the time spent on social media.

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5. Take initiative

Take yourself out of the bad habit of being dependent on your client to proceed. It’s not your 9-5 job where whenever you've got a better idea, you’re expected to follow instructions before proceeding with your freelance project. As a consultant, you need to have the power to take initiative. Discuss the problems as questions, and suggest ways to improve the project. Take the initiative to understand your client's needs.

Pioneering the future

By 2020, the number of temporary workers, freelancers, part-time job seekers will exceed 30% of the global workforce. You have the best opportunity in hand. So better not get stuck. Brace up. The future is yours. Shape it!

Follow this guide and you’ll have what you need to succeed as a freelancer in the digital era. Use tools such as Bonsai to automate and integrate your freelance proposals, contracts, invoices, time tracking and more - sign up for your free trial today.

Vartika Kashyap
Vartika is a marketing manager and one of LinkedIn's top voices for the past three years. She contributes to Business.com, The Next Web, YourStory, and Huffington, among others. Her articles focus on productivity, leadership, and common workplace events. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel to new places.

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