There seems to be two kinds of freelancers when it comes to the beginning to a career: those who are afraid to take on more than a single project at a time and those who jump in so deep that they are drowning in orders before they know what they are doing. Most commonly, it is the first type that we see. While freelancers have the ability to do more than one order at once, they are terrified of the risk or missing a deadline to take the chance.
But here is a secret that most freelancers who have been in the business for a while are aware of: You won’t reach full earning potential until you move past this fear, simply because you waste time that could be broken up among multiple orders trying to find one new project at a time.
If you are thinking of finally getting more than one client at a time, here are five tips to help you do so more smoothly.
Rotate Your Work Through the Day
Some freelancers like to work on one project per day for that week. This works for some, but I have found that it can actually burn you out more quickly, making it harder to finish the work on time. Even if you do a single project every other day, jumping from one to the other, you run the risk of becoming discouraged at the slow progress that will affect all of your work.
It can be a bit less taxing to rotate your work through the day. The amount of time you dedicate will depend on various personal factors, such as how quickly you work, the research involved and how many projects you have at ay given time.
But a good rule of thumb is an hour per rotation, with a healthy break of 20 to 30 minutes. This will give you some time to let go of the information involved with one client’s work and therefore give more to the other.
Make a Schedule, Stick to It
At the beginning of each week (I prefer to do it on Sunday), put together a list of all of your projects for the coming five days. Decide what projects will be worked on during what days and then break them up by the time of day they will be completed.
Once you have that schedule, including scheduled breaks, stick to it. When you have more than one client, knowing exactly when you should be working on a certain project is your best chance at keeping up with everything. It will also eliminate any mistakes that might lead to you forgetting about an order or detail to include.
Keep Invoice Spreadsheets Separate
I have seen some people use their schedule to double as an invoice, but this is a mistake. You want to keep track of all invoices and payments, along with dates that they were paid, or clients who failed to fulfill the debt. Because your schedule is always changing, it makes it hard to keep the two together without risking an accidental deletion.
Instead, you should have a separate spreadsheet that keeps track of all payments, year by year. The more clients you take at once, the more important it will be to keep track of things in their own document.
However, you don’t need software to do this for you unless you really want one. Usually, a simple spreadsheet through Excel, Word or even OpenOffice will suffice for the sake of records.
Make Communications a Priority
When you don’t communicate with your clients, you make your job infinitely harder. Whether it is getting details on a point you are unsure of, alerting them to your progress or letting them know an order will be late (which will happen, occasionally), you should always make sure to contact each client at least twice a week.
Your inbox becomes a crucial resource for remembering who to write and when. Over time it will become second nature, but in the meantime you can get used to it by adding an additional note in your schedule.
Remember You Are in Charge of Your Workload
A common mistake is thinking your client is your boss. They aren’t; that would mean they had some accountability for your work. You are your own boss, and they are the clients you have chosen to take on. So everything, from the amount of work you take to the rates and deadlines you provide, is up to you, based on their needs or recommendations.
If you find yourself unable to fulfill a difficult request, which some clients will give you, then be sure to explain that you cannot do it based on those limitations. Any clients who are insistent that you go beyond your capabilities should be made aware that they will have to either conform to your workload demands or find someone better able to fit their needs.
These five tips are simple ways of making sure you will be taking on more than one client while staying organized and on schedule. What are some of your tricks you have found to help you ease into the transition from one to many simultaneous projects? Let our readers know in the comments.