For people employed in the fields of translation and writing, a daily work schedule is generally imposed by their employers. They’re supplied with a certain amount of work they are capable of completing within their office hours and kept on track with regular meetings to determine the best course of action when tackling projects. But how do you manage an equivalent workload as a freelancer, and keep the work rolling in?
The Key to Taking on New Clients While Servicing Loyal Ones
The Many Hats of a Freelancer
Freelance writing and professional translations are completely different from the above scenario. There is little control over the amount of work that will land in your inbox, and managing to complete high-quality work on time when overburdened will impact your ability to build a list of loyal clients. On top of completing the paid work that you love, you’ll also need to stay on top of a number of other tasks that you may not relish quite as much.
Marketing, administration, prospecting, customer relations, and professional development all play a role in your success as a freelance translator or writer, and you should make time for these activities each week or month to ensure your longevity, consistency of work and expansion of your client portfolio.
With Great Flexibility Comes Great Responsibility
As a freelancer, you imagine you can spend your time as you please. However, along with the freedom to manage your time comes the responsibility to manage it well. Not only do you have deadlines to meet for clients, but also a number of other tasks to do to ensure you remain gainfully employed. Time management requires excellent organisational skills and the ability to put aside distractions in order to be able to focus on the essential tasks that will keep you employed – even when they aren’t that enjoyable.
Along with the projects and tasks you have planned for the week or month ahead, you may also find loyal clients on occasion asking you to completed an unexpected translation, or an urgent article that needs writing for media release. Do you disappoint the client and say no, or accept the work and increase the workload pressure and hours at your desk to keep your client happy?
Before giving an answer, check your schedule and consider the value of your client. Do their short-notice requests inhibit your ability to grow your client base? Are they a client you enjoy working with and want to remain working with into the foreseeable future? You should know your limits and if you do make room for the extra work be prepared to give up some of your social time or sleep.
Prioritise, Refresh and Restrict
It’s good practice to start each day with an agenda of activities. Include time each day or week for additional tasks such as administration, marketing, prospecting and staying in touch with past clients so you can build your business – keeping in touch with past clients and developing new ones over time should be a regular task, just like responding to your emails.
Keep your priorities in sight at all times. Meeting deadlines is an obvious one, but so should sending new pitches and prospecting letters to potential clients. Administration of your accounts, and filing completed work so that it can easily be found if needed in the future are also important activities.
Refreshing your priorities will keep you on course. This is easily done at the end of each work day: Those items that didn’t get crossed off the to-do list get added to tomorrow’s list. If they are continually getting pushed back, you need to rethink their importance, and move them up so they get done earlier in your day or set aside a day to complete any tasks that tend to escape your scheduling.
It can be easy to spend far too long on a task. Agonizing over the best word to use in a translation, or the most compelling way to write your pitch can rob you of hours, or weeks! Even the most accomplished of writers and translators can end up wasting time.
To avoid doing this, developing a habit of restricting the amount of time you spend on certain tasks is helpful. Give yourself a limit, stick to it, let your piece breathe, and come back to it for a final (time-restricted) look over.
Build Your Business One Contact at a Time
The actual writing and translating are the icing on your freelancing cake. By ensuring you include client development, marketing and regular steps to expand your customer base in your schedule, you’ll expand your ‘cake’ along with the ‘icing’ and ensure your ability to carry on doing more of the work you love well into the future.