Business

How to manage your daily work as a freelancer

April 12, 2022 by Panama Harris

As a freelancer, you’re the sole person in charge of your company.

It means you get more freedom and flexibility in how you run things. But it also means that you have to be up to speed on all fronts.

It’s you, and you alone, who is responsible for having your work operate like a well-oiled machine.

Between paperwork, bookkeeping, prospecting clients, and even just handling your workflow, it’s hard to know where to start. The end result: many freelancers end up feeling overwhelmed by the daily mental load of managing it all.

In order to set up stable business and avoid burnout, you need to get yourself well organized.

In this article, we’ll share with you some tips, tricks and tools to handle all the different aspects of your business with ease.

Staying organized as a freelancer: 4 tips to handle your daily workflow

Create a dedicated workspace

Most freelancers work from home. While convenient, it carries the potential risk of blurring the lines between your work life and your professional life. Distractions can run rampant, which is why it’s important to create a space that’s pleasant to be in and conducive to work. Ideally you ought to carve out a space for yourself that’s dedicated exclusively to your work - a space that’s preferably calm and tidy - in order to get your best thinking done.

Remember, this is a space where you’ll be spending the majority of your time. Be sure to adapt the space to your tastes, and invest in quality equipment (an ergonomic chair, a solid desk...).

You can also choose to work in a coworking space. You’re sure to find a suitable work environment there, and you even get the chance to meet other freelancers.

Plan out your week and set out goals

The freelance life can sometimes feel like a dream. You have all the freedom in the world...yet you also have many responsibilities. You often have to juggle multiple projects and clients at once.

In light of all these responsibilities, it’s vital to build out a schedule with all the pertinent dates and important deadlines written out. On top of that, you can also write out a weekly or monthly set of goals to keep your projects organized.

Creating structure like this allows you to keep a clear view of your work, set more accurate priorities, handle emergencies better, and overall help you plan your day. With minimal effort.

You also gain better foresight over your upcoming weeks, which gives you the ability to effectively set time aside to do your side work, like bookkeeping, finding clients, admin, marketing work, updating your portfolio, and creating content for your business (website, blog articles, social media posts, etc.).

Use the right tools to manage your business

These days there are plenty of great tools out there to help you with your company’s day-to-day tasks and operations.

These solutions are meant to optimize your workflow, your finances, your accounting, as well as your projects.

Among these, a few notable options come to mind:

  • Trello for organizing various tasks, missions and projects in Kanban board format;
  • Notion or Evernote for note-taking;
  • Axonaut for managing your accounting;
  • Qonto for managing your finances;
  • Google Meet for setting up meetings;
  • Google Calendar to plan your day/week.

Want to know more? We’ve written a blog article dedicated to all the best tools out there for small businesses (Trello, Notion, etc.).

Find your rhythm

Every freelancer works at a different pace. Some are early birds who spend their mornings working on client projects (writing blog articles, developing a design, code, a strategy... according to their type of work). Others thrive in the evenings and prefer to start their days working on less involved tasks that are still essential for their business - like client relations, prospecting, social media maintenance, marketing, or admin.

In order to work as efficiently as possible, you need to figure out when your peak productivity hours are. Pay attention to which times of the day (or of the week) you’re most constructive, and which activities tend to sap your energy.

Try to experiment with different work methods to find the best fit. To each their own (tempo).

Staying organized as a freelancer: 3 tips to manage your business accounting

Stay up to date with invoicing

As a freelancer, you have a duty to keep up a steady flow of invoices. In order to do that, you need make sure you’re creating a couple key pieces for bookkeeping, notably:

  • a quote that you submit before starting on a new project
  • an invoice at the end of your mission

While you don’t necessarily need to send out a quote every time you work with a client, it can help you define the scope and pricing for the job. Not to mention that a signed quote essentially counts as a work contract and commits you and your client to the project at hand.

💡 Good to know: in order for these documents to be valid, they need to include some key information, such as the date, your SIRET number, the client’s full information, the pre-tax price and the price with tax included.

Staying organized means staying on top of your invoicing. Sending a quote, a contract, or an invoice should become almost automatic. Admittedly, it’s tedious work in the short term, but it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. And being disciplined about your paperwork saves you possible troubles down the line in case you get audited by the URSSAF.

Keep your receipts

Do you find yourself making business purchases in your line of work? If you’re not under the micro-enterprise regime, you can deduct these costs from your sales revenue.

But in order for you to do that, they need to be reasonably justifiable expenses. The law also states that you need to keep your receipts (in this instance, this also includes your invoices) for 10 years.

This means that you absolutely must keep each and every receipt for any professional purchases to avoid any nasty surprises if you get audited. Collecting and organizing receipts can, however, be time-consuming.

Fortunately, there are solutions like Qonto which allow you to store all your receipts online. No more storing mountains of paper tickets in bulky binders - just upload them to the app. Your digital receipts hold the same legal value as their paper counterparts.

Be thorough when handling your tax returns

As you well know, there are several administrative deadlines you have to follow. These vary according to your tax regime and legal status.

Among the most common deadlines for freelancers, the two main ones to mind are:

  • declaring your sales revenue for micro-enterprises, be it every month or every trimester;
  • declaring and withholding VAT, either monthly or biannually, depending on which payment scheme you’ve chosen.

It’s important to keep these dates top of your mind. It can help to write down these important dates in your schedule so you can get ahead of the deadlines and avoid rushing through the necessary paperwork at the last minute.

Staying organized as a freelancer: tips to best manage your sales pipeline

In order to have long-term steady income for your business, you need to stay on top of your sales pipeline.

Prospecting

As a freelancer, it’s your job to find customers. Which means you need to go out and meet prospective clients and propose your services to them.

Responding to job offers, composing custom lead-generation messaging...this all takes time. Don’t forget that when prospecting, personalization is key. Avoid generic messages and try to do some deeper research on the company you’re targeting before you reach out to them.

That way you have a better chance of catching their attention and scoring a contract with them.

It’s certainly a bit of work in the short term, but it has a very positive impact on your client base. So don’t hesitate to set time aside to do your research.

Client relations management

The commercial part of your work doesn’t just stop at prospecting clients. Once you land a contract, you also need to work on building customer loyalty. It just makes sense to privilege long-term collaborations.

Maintaining up good client relations comes down to two main habits.

  • Keeping your client informed of how you’re progressing on your deliverables. It’s always reassuring to have good visibility on how things are advancing. You could send them a table with clear deadlines, for example. And if it’s a long-term mission, you might want to schedule a regular catch-up (like once a week, for example).
  • Be responsive via email. Ideally, you should try to respond to messages within a 24 to 48 hour window.

Organization as a freelancer: your professional network

As a freelancer, you tend to work solo. Most often, you work from home and don’t have any colleagues to chat with over the course of your workday.

It’s natural to feel isolated sometimes. But feeling lonely can have adverse effects on your productivity, your motivation, and also on morale.

This is why it’s that much more important to create relationships with other freelancers so you can talk about your mutual projects, share tips and advice, and inspire one another.

Today there are tools to help you build a professional network, even if you’re just getting started and don’t know very many people in your industry.

You could:

  • participate in events like after-work socials;
  • join a freelancer collective;
  • rent a desk in a coworking space;
  • talk with other freelancers via social media.

It’s a great opportunity to forge relations that could potentially open doors to new projects with clients further down the line.

Between your daily workload, admin, bookkeeping, prospecting, networking...the day in the life of a freelancer fills up quickly. But by being well organized, you can manage your company efficiently and with ease. You should now have the tools to help you launch your business as a freelancer.

Are you a freelancer looking to open a professional account? Discover Qonto, the finance solution that suits your business.

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