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10 Resources for Beginning Freelancers

10 Resources for Beginning Freelancers

    The idea of making a comfortable living without leaving your home or putting pants on in the morning is an idea that makes many people drool all over their office clothes. No more commutes, no more company politics.

    There are negative aspects to freelancing—clients can be slow to pay or demand millions of revisions that decrease the quality of the product—but the positives by far outweigh the negatives. But, if you want to work for yourself and from home, you can do it.

    All you need is the right knowledge, the determination to make it happen, and the skills to deliver what you’re selling.

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    To that end, here are ten resources that’ll help you achieve this goal. If you do this right, you can craft your work life the way you’ve always wanted. I for one always hated meetings and phone calls that took hours to get through ten minutes worth of content; you can bet those were the first things to go when I found my feet as a freelancer.

    If you have a skill, you can do this too. If you’ve been at it for a while and nothing seems to be working, it’s probably because you’re missing some fundamental element of what is required to make this work. These resources can help you too. These are all resources I’ve used myself, whether it was to get a grip on how I spend my working day, invoice clients, or find jobs.

    I’ve included a few job boards in this article. If they aren’t job boards for writers, they’re job boards that cater to writers among others, and that’s because I can’t vouch for the quality of any job board that I haven’t used.

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    1. ProBlogger Job Board

    In all honesty, this was not the board where I found most of my freelance work, but it was the place I found the ad for this very website and subsequently got the gig, and thus deserves an honorable mention. The ProBlogger Job Board is a handy tool if you don’t just want to work from home, but want to work on the web, publishing your articles on blogs and various other types of websites.

    2. Freshbooks

    Every freelancer needs a good invoicing system, or they’d soon become overrun with a chaotic mess and plenty of unpaid bills. Freshbooks has been a pretty good option for many of my invoicing needs and there’s a free plan available. It’s got some cool time tracking abilities built-in, but I don’t use them myself.

    3. How to be a Rockstar Freelancer

    How to be a Rockstar Freelancer is a book by Collis and Cyan Ta’eed. It’s the bible for freelancers. Don’t get started until you’ve started reading this book. I spent a lot of time looking for a good reference and resource on all things freelancing, and Rockstar Freelancer covers just about everything you need to know. I know at least five six figure earners who, if asked how you should get started in freelancing, will tell you to get this book.

    4. FreelanceSwitch

    It would be a bit silly to mention Rockstar Freelancer and leave out FreelanceSwitch. FreelanceSwitch is an informative and popular blog that covers all things freelancing, whether you’re a writer, designer, developer or something else entirely. They also have a fantastic job board that costs $7 a month for a subscription, but it has resulted in more paying gigs for me than any other job board out there.

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    5. Billable

    Billable is a great time tracking utility for Mac OS X (all freelancers use Macs, didn’t anyone tell you?). In fact, it can be used to keep track of not only your hours, but every piece of work you do that needs to be invoiced, and even knock up the invoice for you. I use it to track each article I write with an affixed billing price, as well as my hours on jobs that are more about fulfilling a role as opposed to completing a project. I don’t do hourly billing, but keeping track of how many hours you spend on anything is definitely important as a freelancer so you can prioritize and schedule more effectively.

    6. Freelance Writing Jobs

    Freelance Writing Jobs is one of the most popular freelance writing communities on the web, and they publish very frequent job round-ups. The blog’s authors dutifully scour the Internet for job postings that pay decent rates and publish them in one convenient place. Priceless, both literally and figuratively speaking.

    7. Freelance Folder

    Freelance Folder is another great freelancing blog with useful content from a whole bunch of varied and experienced contributors. The blog was founded by Jon Phillips, who plays guitar in a rock band. C’mon, a site run by a successful freelancer who also plays guitar? What more could you want?

    8. Blinksale

    Blinksale is another cool invoicing service. I use Blinksale and Freshbooks pretty much equally and find both to be great services, and my having feet in both camps is mainly a matter of various clients being on one service or the other (though your clients don’t need to be using these services, it does make things easier). Like Freshbooks, there’s a limited free account available.

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    9. WebWorkerDaily

    WebWorkerDaily is a blog for people who work from the web, and it’s not centered around doing well as a freelancer so much as it is about making your web-working experience more pleasant and productive. It does cover freelancing to a degree, but you’ll also find out which new apps, web services, Firefox extensions and so on will make your life easier.

    10. Slife

    Slife is an app that tells you how long you spend in various apps on your computer. I use it as an analysis tool—should I swap Flock out for Firefox when I’m writing lengthy posts because of Flock’s inherently distracting and social nature? Slife lets me compare how much I switch from writing my article to using the browser during a given period and decide which is the more productive option. The saying time is money is more true for freelancers than employees, so tracking it and optimizing it are very important activities.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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