Working from home, flexible schedules and being paid handsomely for your daily work - each of these is part of many disgruntled worker daydreams. Today, the gig economy is flourishing and puts the benefits of freelancing within everyone’s reach. As liberating as this type of work can be, it also can pose organizational challenges for some people. Here are some organizational tips and ideas on how to plan and execute your freelancing gig.
Freelancing opportunities continue to grow You can freelance in almost any field, but many of the growing gig economy fields are in developing, marketing and content creation. There are numerous tasks that businesses need to be done, but that do not warrant a full-time position. Virtual assistant work is a prime example. A startup CEO may want some correspondence drafted, or invoices entered without taking on the burden of a full-time office administrator or bookkeeper. By providing virtual assistant services to several clients, a freelancer can solve a problem and earn extra income.
Organization and process management are important It is easy, however, to become overwhelmed with freelancing if you do not manage your time well. The ideal image of earning money on a beach with a laptop and phone can quickly crumble into the stress of developing a pipeline and managing deadlines that can make you pine for your old boring office. Organization is the key to keeping everything sane. Just like any self-employed endeavor, freelancing will add many tasks to your workday.
In addition to doing your specialty gig, you’ll have to market your services, handle paperwork, process payments and other financial matters, and structure your day. It’s easy to get distracted by the flexibility and be overcome with stress when business is slow.
To optimize your freelancing, map out your week. Communicate with your clients and be realistic about what you can deliver. Make sure to budget administrative tasks into your week, so they do not rob your productivity, and always keep pitching new work. If you do not keep an eye on the horizon, and only focus on the task in front of you, you will not be ready for a client’s potential downturn in business.
Manage your cash flow If you started your freelance work as a side hustle, the payments you received were treats - welcome bonus income. But if freelancing is your primary income source, you have to become your own CFO and HR department. Put your earnings into a bank account, then cut yourself a paycheck out of those funds at a regular and conservative rate of pay. If you have a banner month, you can then award yourself a bonus or invest back into your business. Separating freelance revenue from personal income goes a long way in giving structure to your work. Speak to an accountant, so you properly withhold for taxes and other requirements.
Build an operations base It’s fun to imagine working wherever life takes you, but you will be much more productive with a home office base. When you are freelancing, every minute of your day is valuable. If a half hour is wasted driving to and setting up at a coffee shop - how much does that convenience cost you over the long run? A home office should be comfortable, as light-filled as possible and well-stocked with supplies. If you can create an entirely separate physical space, such as a segregated room, then you will be able to walk away when necessary for mental health. A flexible work situation can overtake your personal life if you don’t set boundaries.
Reach out to others Although you need a dedicated base of operations, you should take advantage of ways to reach out to others. Occasional work at a cafe or co-working space can help you find mentors, solve problems with others and socialize. Isolation can negatively impact your emotional well-being, so make sure your freelance work does not put you in a cocoon.
A well-organized plan of attack can help you take advantage of opportunities of the gig economy. Put your skills to good work in a way that will benefit you financially and personally. Just remember to treat it as serious business and resist the temptation to shut yourself off from the world.
About Lucy Reed Lucy Reed is the owner/blogger/developer of Gigmine.co. She has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created GigMine because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas. Photo Credit: Pixabay