Like me, do you make a living as a freelancer? If you do, you’ll know that your time is valuable. After all, as a one-man (or woman) band, everything from invoicing to website maintenance and blogging falls under your remit. And that’s before you start on the actual work you advertise under your list of ‘Services’.
So, how do you ensure that every second of your day is spent doing something worthwhile? When there are phone calls to answer, campaigns to set up and meetings to attend, your day-to-day role as a freelancer can be full-on.
To cut some of the stress which comes with running a business, I say it’s time to devise a plan to qualify your freelance enquiries so you’re only spending your day doing the stuff that matters.
So, here’s how to work out which project is worth your time – and which you should swerve – because the great thing about being your own boss is that you don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every project that comes your way.
Consider Your Skillset
As a freelancer, it can sometimes be tough to turn down work. The reason? We all remember launching our business and waiting for the first enquiry to land in our inbox. When you’ve just set up on your own, it’s nothing short of thrilling to know you’re in demand – and the temptation to agree to work, whatever the client’s budget and deadline, is stronger in the beginning. But once you’re established, you’re in the fortunate position to pick and choose what you’d like to do – and in some cases, a project might not perfectly complement your skillset. So, why take it on when you know someone who will be better for it?
Delegating the work to another freelancer can work in your favour later down the line. When you’re experiencing a quieter work spell, said freelancer may do the same for you and send a project your way. But aside from that, it’s just nice to do something nice.
Don’t Leave Yourself Out of Pocket
If a prospective client says their budget is small but they’d ‘still like to work with you’, think carefully. If it’s a start-up or a charity, consider amending your price, if necessary – if you have the capacity to take the work on and if you’d like to do it, too. But if you’ve found yourself to-ing and fro-ing with a potential customer via email – and they’re still not happy with your price despite a small discount – it’s time to walk away. The time you spend on the project may far outweigh what you get paid for it, especially if they’re a client who requires lots of catch-up calls or meetings.
The best thing to do in this situation is assess if the project can offer you anything else. Will working with that company or brand boost your portfolio? Will it help develop your skillset, or is it a business you’ve always wanted to work with?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it may be wort giving it a shot. But always remember my number one rule: don’t undervalue yourself.
In the instance where a project seems perfect for you and the client’s budget aligns with your prices, don’t just steam ahead and say you’ll take it on. Instead, think about the company’s deadline. Can you manage the work in the timeframe they’ve given you – or will you need an extra pair of hands in the form of another freelancer? It’s always best to under promise and overdeliver. That way, your client is happy if you complete the work ahead of time, rather than feeling frustrated if you’re missing deadlines.
Take Note of How They Communicate
So, the project sounds great, but communication with the client has so far been stilted. If you’ve noted that only some of your emails receive a reply, while others are left unanswered for weeks on end, that should ring alarm bells.
If this is the case now, what will it be like when you need a steer from the client during the project itself? Perhaps you’ll need some additional info or a quick chat with a team member. If you’re experiencing radio silence now, it’s time to think carefully. Everyone’s busy and projects often take longer than anticipated. That’s a given in the freelance game, but when the work spans three or four months and you still feel no nearer to completing it as a result of lack of communication, consider how this may impact your working week.
Are you a freelancer, too? How do you qualify enquiries? Let me know what works for you and what doesn’t by commenting below.