Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Schizophrenic Freelancer: Take Your Best Ideas & Make Them Work for You

I often wonder how many freelancers out there are running two or three businesses. You know, juggling a full-time job while trying to get your freelance business off the ground – the equivalent of running two businesses. This is what I term the schizophrenic freelancer.

If this sounds like you, here are three things you can do immediately which will allow you to take your best ideas and make them work for you.

1. Focus: Many freelancers exist in a haphazard state. What I mean is, they take projects as they come along, knock them out, and then sit back and wait for the next one. This is allowing someone else to control your time/schedule – which is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish by becoming a freelancer.

Stop the madness! The first thing you should do if freelancing full-time is your eventual goal is to figure out exactly how you want your life to operate.

Eg, I want to work four days a week. My workday will be 9 hours (8-6 with a one hour break for lunch). My income goal is $4,000/month. To accomplish this I need 8 projects a month averaging $500/each. Ideally, this would be 3 copywriting jobs, 2 editing jobs, 1 word processing job and 2 sold articles. I will schedule 1 full day per week to marketing for these types of jobs. My budget for marketing is $200/month. And on and on and on.

When you work from specifics, you can hone in on your best ideas immediately. You will also know going in how you need to price your product/service, what jobs you can’t afford to take, how much time you have to devote to each project, where to allocate your marketing dollars, etc.

Every day that you get up, if you have your focused goal sheet in front of you, every minute of your day will be spent on tasks that get you closer to your real goal – freelancing full-time – and make a darn good living at it, too!

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2. Develop a Deadline: While it’s great to write things down, it won’t mean a darn thing if you don’t put a timeline on it. Otherwise, your goal will be a “someday aspiration.”

As human beings, we have inbuilt mechanisms that protect us from whatever we perceive as failure. After all, who wants to fail? By not putting a timeline on our dreams – whatever they may be – we allow ourselves the comfy zone of not failing. Because, what happens if we don’t meet the deadline – we’ll feel like failures.

Don’t allow fear of success (which is exactly what this is) to rule you. You may not meet your deadline, but give yourself credit for the progress you will have made and keep plugging away. Set a new deadline. Be careful though that this doesn’t become another stalling tactic.

Do everything within your power to meet and beat your deadlines. After all, you do it for clients. Don’t you deserve the same respect and attention?

3. Don’t Waste Time: To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for that is what life is made of.”

Checking email, surfing the net, chatting with friends – all of these are major time killers. Get in the habit of prioritizing your time on a daily basis.

I keep a to-do list by my desk. I usually make it at the end of one week for the upcoming week. I tweak it as needed, but always try to complete all tasks on it during that week. Not only does this keep you on track daily, but when you look back over it in 2, 3 or 4 months, you will be able to track the progress you’ve made toward your goal.

Now, get cracking!****************************************************************************
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