Maintaining your passion amidst a crazy schedule is daunting but freelancers are pros at keeping their cool. Just in case you do find yourself off-track, we’ve gathered some of the essential methods for making sure you are safeguarded from the strain of regular ups-and-downs:
Get friendly with your finances
One of the best things you can do to retain your sanity as a freelancer is make sure that your finances are in order. Ensuring you have separated your freelance expenses from ordinary home expenses is key. Account for each and every business expense, whether it’s buying new printer paper, upgrading software, advertising, traveling to conferences, etc. Track every penny that you get from a client (hmm, we might know a great invoice-tracking system for this). Also try to maintain an emergency savings reserve that would give you a six-month cushion should you need it (we hope you won’t need it, though.)
Sure, it can be a big hassle but getting your own insurance is one of the most responsible things you can do as your own boss, particularly if you or someone in your family has a persistent medical condition. Your local Chamber of Commerce, which exists primarily to support small businesses in the community should offer health insurance; most offer group packages for businesses with 2 or more people, as well as individual packages. Both The Freelancers Union and the National Association for the Self-Employed offer state market plans and health discount cards, respectively. Also, consider high deductible insurance with low monthly premiums, as well as a Health Savings Account (HSA) through your bank or credit union.
Choose your office wisely
If cafes have become your main go-to for getting work done, it will be important to take stock of whether your ability to focus and remain business-minded is being compromised by distractions. Having a designated office to work in should translate into focus for your business. You may want to consider renting out an office in a separate building or clearing out your basement to find a place that’s all your own, with the proper amenities, and all your supplies nearby to ensure your constant productivity.
Get quotes in writing
One of the most stressful parts of being a freelancer involves creating your contract with clients. Making sure the terms of your relationship are spelled out as clearly as possible in written form for each project from the onset is key. Create a quote that includes the scope of the project, any specifications in detail, the terms of payment, and the rate. Ensure you have the quote signed and approved by your client before beginning work. This way there’s little confusion and you can make any revisions before starting the contract.
Subcontract when necessary
Keeping track of your invoices, buying supplies, client follow-up, research, and time spent actually working on your project can take much more than the standard 40 hours accrue at a normal 9-to-5 job. If you feel like you’re having trouble keeping up, an office manager might be a good idea, provided you’re willing to actually take time out of your schedule to administer guidance in some way. Hit up your local college student network (or put out a request through your alumni bulletin, if you still live near your alma mater). Snoop around your professional network and comb through a few resumes. Make sure to give your new help a 1099 form; you might even be able to write off the money you give him/her as a business expense.