When you think about freelance writing, you likely think of, well, writing. Perhaps you envision writing a few notes down in a beautiful journal while sipping a coffee in your favorite café, or even toiling away on an assignment well into the wee hours. However it comes to your mind, one thing is certain: you’re a Writer, and you Write.
If you freelance in any capacity, then you know that writing is actually just a portion of what you do. For those who are new to freelancing, it can be quite the surprise to discover that you need to do behind-the-scenes tasks, too. After all, don’t you already have enough to do? While no one wants to add more to their to-do list, keeping on top of these administrative tasks will help you in the long run. Here are five administrative tasks every new freelancer needs to do, as well as tips on how often to complete each task:
- Keep on top of income: Hey, did that awesome new client pay you on the 15th like they said they would? And do you need to submit an invoice for that other client? Tracking income, submitting invoices, and following up with clients who are late on payment are essential to success in freelancing. You do want to get paid, right?
- Record expenses: You joined the National Association of Professional Underwater Basket-Weavers, purchased a new laptop for your freelancing business, and ordered business cards. You need to write down each and every expense (and keep your receipts, too!). This is why it also pays to work with a trusted CPA, as they can help you navigate what is considered a legitimate business expense. While you’re at it, record any applicable mileage, too — as long as your CPA says you can, of course.
- Follow up with clients from projects past: Let’s say you last worked with a client two months ago. It is never a bad idea to reach out to previous clients (assuming you ended the project on good terms, of course) to see if they would like to work with you again. Making some time to reconnect can pay off in the long-run. This is where having a presence on LinkedIn is invaluable, as you can see what your former client is up to these days. And if you are so new to freelancing that you do not have any previous clients, then consider reaching out to former colleagues and classmates. You never know who will need a freelancer!
- Maintain your gear: From installing the latest version of your favorite software to making sure your printer, scanner, and so on are ready to roll, maintaining your gear is one task you don’t want to delay. Plan regular maintenance so that you can easily and quickly fix a problem as it arises.
- Advertise, advertise, advertise: Losing a client is a rite of passage when you freelance. That being said, you can mitigate the loss of a client if you look for more work. Network through your contacts, apply to freelancing positions, and just keep looking for more work. Something will come through to replace the client you lost.
Take Action: 3 Tips For Success
It’s one thing to read a list of tips, nod your head in agreement, then move on to another article. Don’t click away just yet! You need to think of a way to take action. These three tips will set you up for success:
- Schedule your tasks: The tasks above can — and should — be accomplished each week. If you let too much time pass before you record your mileage or apply to a new freelancing gig, then you just might forget. Schedule time each week so you can tackle each task. I have found that scheduling administrative tasks into my calendar is a way for me to “protect” these tasks from other obligations. I am less likely to schedule another activity during that time, as I realize how important it is to complete these tasks. Find a routine that works for you!
- Have an accountability coach: It is so easy to procrastinate and think “I’ll apply to that job tomorrow.” While scheduling time to complete your tasks will help, you may find that an accountability coach will provide the extra help you need. You don’t need to seek out the help of a fellow freelancer to do this (although that would certainly help). Your partner, a family member, or a close friend can help you stay on task simply by asking “Hey, did you fill out those applications?” I will add a word of caution. Choose your accountability coach wisely. You don’t want to select someone who will see their role as an opportunity to breathe down your neck and send demanding texts every hour.
- Make it fun: Sending invoices, reaching out to former coworkers, and applying to new gigs can be a dull process. I hear you. That’s why I have tried to inject a bit of fun into the process while maintaining a professional image. I have set up a playlist filled with songs that are basically background music. I can listen to music and unwind, but still focus on each task. I have also set up mini goals, too. If I can complete my weekly tasks by a certain time, then I can do a fun activity that’s not work-related. I also purchased a few fun office supplies; a new idea looks so much better when it’s written on nice paper. You are also more likely to complete these tasks if you can (sort of ) look forward to them.