Adivce to Freelancers Part II

Advice no one else will tell you

Here is my advice to freelancers. You can take it or leave it.

Put your kid in daycare

This one no one ever tells you. I don’t know why. It seems like a no brainier to me. How can you get work done with a little rug rat running around your feet. Once or twice, I must have been on drugs, I made the mistake of not putting my kid in daycare for a week when school was out. By the end of the week, we were both frustrated and in tears. I had a client yelling at me, and I couldn’t get my work done.

No matter how tempting it is to have your kid around you, no matter how much your 9-5 friends envy you because you can work at home and be around your loved ones, don’t listen. You may love your kid, but you won’t get work done if they are home. They will want something to eat, and something to do, and attention, and why are you talking on the phone.

Granted, I do see my daughter a lot more since I turned freelance. I used to have her in daycare from 7:30am-6pm. At least when I put her in daycare now, it is from 9am-3pm, and I work around that.

Dress up as if you might be meeting a client

Yes, this is important. I know there are some that will tell you that you can walk around the house naked, and to heck with what the UPS or FedEx person thinks. But I find that if I dress up as though I were going to work, I have a better attitude about work. And, there have been times, when I have had to rush out to a client’s, so it is a good thing that I didn’t have to waste time getting dressed before going.

I have heard that some people have trouble starting in the morning, when working from a home office. I tend to set a time to begin, and a time to end, and stick to that, as well as taking my lunch when my clients are taking their lunches.

The only thing I haven’t been able to solve is that they tend to call around 3pm, when I’m out picking up my daughter.

Proof and spell check everything

This one I am not as good at, but it is very important none the less, because as a graphic designer, I am often the last one on a project before it is printed. And a lot of clients, these days, do not employ proof-readers. Mores the pity.

Always make your deadlines

This is tough one to get your head around for some people. This was drilled into me in college, where instead of giving one lower grade for late work, my teacher would just call it an incomplete. He was trying to get us ready for the real-world, and I thank him for it. Others around me say I shouldn’t let my clients push me around with deadlines, but I figure if it is important to them, I can make it important to them.

Have someone who understands freelancers prepare your taxes.

This is important so you can take all the deductions you deserve. I tried to do my own taxes at first, but life is tough enough without making it harder. Be sure to keep all your receipts. If you can afford a book-keeper to keep track of everything, do so.

Other important things I have learned

  • If you can afford a house cleaner, do that too. You don’t want to be doing housework when you should be working. And when the weekend comes, you don’t want to spend all your free time cleaning either. Some freelancers I know clean when they aren’t busy, but I find that too detracting.
  • Don’t volunteer for your daughter’s school if what is needed happens during office hours. For some reason teachers think that if you are at home, you can do work for them. Don’t let them know.
  • Get an off-site voice mail. This might sound like a strange one, but when I was first freelancing, my cat kept stepping on my answering machine, and either turning it off, or erasing the messages. Also, when the power went out, which was often, I wouldn’t be able to get messages, and that was annoying too.
  • Don’t get distracted. This is a tough one. right now I am distracted, because my daughter is in my office with me, and is telling me about a game she is playing on her computer. If I was working, I would be going crazy. The best solution I have found for this is to stay up later, or get up early if there is a job that I need to concentrate on.

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