Admin Tools for Freelancers
Freelancing has become a major industry. Freelance writers, web developers and artists have long worked on their own, independent from a single employer, but the pandemic helped this industry explode and now there are more freelancers than ever.
Managing your own business gives you freedom and autonomy to make the decisions that are best for you, but sometimes making those decisions gets complicated and clouded by mundane administrative tasks like billing and scheduling. Luckily, there are plenty of administrative tools out there to help freelancers manage their work.
Problems Freelancers face in their everyday work
Many freelancers quickly learn that being your own boss is not all rainbows and butterflies. There are a lot of annoying and complicated issues that present themselves very early on in a freelance career.
Freelancing has its perks, but it also has its pitfalls. Being your own boss means you are the one in charge of scheduling, creating and meeting deadlines, billing, and all the other stuff you don’t normally have to think about in a job where you have a manager. Freelancers who go out on their own quickly find that too much of their time is being eaten up by boring administrative tasks that don’t consist of the work you love to do.
One problem that almost all freelancers have experience navigating is managing time effectively. When you are your own boss and you are the single entity responsible for communicating with clients and meeting pressing deadlines, it is easy to become overwhelmed.
Meeting deadlines are essential to retaining clients and crucial for your reputation as a freelancer. There is nothing more frustrating for a consistent client than when their freelancers can’t manage their time well.
Finding clients is another issue that takes up a huge portion of time for freelancers. Hopefully, if you have gone out on your own as a freelancer you have some consistent clients and know how to find great new ones. There are plenty of websites like Upwork and Fiverr where you can find consistent work, but these are often lower-paying jobs and the website takes a significant chunk of your pay.
The most important thing to do when you are establishing yourself as a freelancer is to maintain a reputable and reliable reputation. You want clients to know that you will meet your deadlines and turn in high-quality work.
One trap that many freelancers fall into is the fallacy of flexibility. It is of course a huge draw to freelancing – being able to create your own schedule and do work when you have the time to. Some people find this work model effective and easy to adhere to while others find that it is extremely hard to keep themselves accountable.
Having the flexibility of creating your own schedule can lead to people thinking they have too much flexibility and pushing work off until the last minute. As your own boss, you have to keep yourself accountable and if you cannot do that then you are going to run into major problems.
Something that is a consistent problem for freelancers is having periods of no work. Whether or not these are planned breaks in work so you can take some personal time, or if you are having trouble finding clients, periods of no work can be a huge stress factor on both your professional and personal life.
The nature of freelance work is that it ebbs and flows. You need to prepare yourself for this and maybe put some money aside when you are making more than usual, so you can be prepared and comfortable when there may not be enough work.
Processes that Freelancers can employ to help solve problems
As we have stated again and again, one of the biggest problems facing independent freelancers is the lack of time management. You need to be able to manage your time efficiently and effectively if you want to be a successful freelancer. No matter what industry you frequently work for or what kind of work you do, meeting deadlines and working efficiently is an extremely important part of being successful.
The fix to your time management problem can be small or huge. You may just need to make a small change to your environment or daily schedule, or you may need to really reflect on what makes you the most time and either figure out how to not do that, or how to speed up that process.
For many freelancers, the solution to being more time-efficient could be as small as adding another monitor so you can work more effectively. It might be getting a bigger desk so you can spread out your ideas, or moving your desk from the wall to the window so you can feel more inspired.
Administrative tasks take up a huge portion of freelancers’ time, and this is not the fun part. Who wants to spend time billing and sending out emails to potential clients asking for work? Freelancing is fun when you get to do what you are passionate about, not a business organization. One way to minimize the time you spend on these boring administrative tasks is to create templates that make it easier for you to do things like billing and cold emailing.
You can easily create an invoice template that you save on your computer and only have to quickly fill in to send to your client. You can also create cold-emailing templates that are specific to whatever industries you reach out to for work. By having these ready, you cut down on the time it takes you to reach out and get new clients.
If having a template that you send out takes up too much time for you, then there are websites and software that can help you expedite that process even more. There are plenty of websites you can use to send out invoicing and many are free or very affordable. Using these kinds of websites not only expedites your invoicing process but also looks very professional. Your clients will appreciate the formality of this process.
Another way to make sure you are making the most of your time as a freelancer is to focus on high-value jobs. This is not to say that you should only consider jobs above a certain price, but you should prioritize jobs with clients that you think may give you work again or jobs that will grow your professional reputation.
Though it is never a good idea to completely ignore job requests you may get, you should assess your bandwidth and really put the focus on jobs that you will get more than a single check from, whether that is a consistent client or a job that boosts your professional capabilities.
Something that is becoming more common among freelancers than it was before is the process of outsourcing. In freelancing, many think that the work is entirely yours. You may think that you have to take ownership and complete everything by yourself to be a successful freelancer. That is definitely true at the beginning of your career, at least.
At that point, you do not have the money or confidence in your freelancing to outsource work and manage another individual. But, once you get both feet on the ground and start making real money with freelancing and start to feel overwhelmed, it may make sense to outsource some of your work.
If you think that sending out invoices takes up too much of your time and you have the ability to hire someone else to do it, then you should. This will allow you to focus on your high-value work at hand and spend less time on mundane administrative skills.
Onboarding someone to help you with this is extremely easy and it does not have to be a permanent situation. When you find yourself extremely overwhelmed with work, you can bring on someone else and let them go when you feel like you have a hold of it again.
Tools that Freelancers can use to help them with their freelancing problems
As fast as the freelancing community is growing all over the world, so are the support software and websites available for their use. Freelancers can make their lives so much easier by using simple websites and software to help with invoicing, time tracking, and project management. There are so many options available to use when trying to make your freelancing life easier.
For many freelancers, the most useful product software is one that helps you with managing your projects. You will probably have so many clients to keep track of and so many different projects for each of them. Having all your deadlines and various projects in one place is essential for success in freelancing.
Things is just one of many task management systems out there. Things are easy to use and designed very well. You can organize your tasks as you want and hide projects that are not a priority to you at any given moment.
Trello is another project management system, this one has a visual layout. This one makes it extremely easy to use with other collaborators. Instead of having a confusing layout with overlapping deadlines, this one is very visually pleasing and easy for many contributors to use.
Another thing that is becoming more and more important for freelancers is social media. Whether you have clients who you create and manage social media for or for your own professional marketing, posting on social media is important.
Buffer allows you to write and schedule social media posts ahead of time so that you can post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and whatever else whenever you want, planned ahead. That way from a single app you can post on all accounts at a later date without taking the time to do it when you actually want the post out.
One program that helps with the boring administrative duties such as writing pitches and reaching out to new clients is Qwilr. Qwilr allows you to create professional and impressive-looking proposals. With so many templates and designs to choose from, you can find one that works great with your business model. This will decrease the amount of time you spend writing, editing, and designing your proposals and allows you to put one together in a flash.
One tool that has been on the market for a long time but has never been more useful is Grammarly. Editing and revising your writing is essential as a freelancer. Whether you are a writer or just emailing a client about a specific project, you need to make sure that your writing is free of flaws. That is why Grammarly is such a great tool. It catches mistakes that other spell checking applications miss.
One of the biggest drags about being your own boss is sending invoices to clients and getting paid. No one likes sending out invoices and they can take up a lot of time. Quickbooks is a great application that has been around forever. Quickbooks has been helping small businesses and freelancers alike manage their income and spending, in one easy-to-use application.
Everyone thinks that being a freelancer is easy work. After all, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss and decide what projects to take on. The dream of freelancing being a walk in the park is far from reality, unfortunately. Freelancers often quickly learn that there is more to freelancing than just doing the work.
There are boring administrative and management tasks that seemingly take forever. Figuring out what takes up the most of your time as a freelancer is only half of the battle.
Luckily, there are great, evolving websites and software out there to help you manage this struggle. Whether you struggle with time management, making sure your projects have a clear roadmap, or invoicing, there is something out there for you! There are so many more people freelancing around the world today than there ever has been, meaning the support programs are going to continue to grow as well!