Gearing up to Become a Professional Freelancer

A freelancer is somebody who is self-employed or works from his or her own space. Over the years, freelancing has emerged as a professional designation throughout the world. A huge number of freelancers make an living from their own cozy comfort. Ample offers are available for freelancers, ranging from writing to designing jobs. A wide range of websites serve as go-betweens for freelancing employees and employers, such as freelancer.com and odesk.com.

Gearing up to Become a Professional Freelancer

Companies and individuals are largely hiring freelancers, which offer striking benefits. Thus, freelancing has been successfully adopted by the professional world given the advantages of both sides. Whether working from home or from an office space, it is always important for freelancers to maintain professional etiquette in order to gain success. Freelancers should follow a certain regime to be perceived as a professional. Only those with a professional attitude can handle themselves effectively while working from their own comfort zone. In this article, we discuss certain points that are important for a professional freelancer to follow in order to succeed.

Being a successful freelancer requires both hard work and planning. One needs to focus on productivity; for that, a freelancer needs a proper workplace. A proper working space, a system, and the zeal to work hard are the beginning guidelines for freelancers. Although freelancing refers to working from one’s own comfort zone, the comfort level should not hamper the productivity level. Therefore, it is important to organize a proper space for work. Let’s discuss planning or designing one’s working space.

Planning a Working Space at Home:

A freelancer can work anywhere, from a bedroom to a public café. However, it is important to ensure a plan much before you start any work. Many modern individuals prefer using a study or an office space in their home; however, this might not be possible for everyone. Therefore, let’s look at the factors necessary for your office space regardless of whether it is an exclusive study room or just any other room of the house.

  • Private work space: Private work space in this case means an uninterrupted area where you can sit and work with concentration. You cannot work amidst the hustle and bustle of family or friends. Therefore, the room should allow for privacy, either by being completely isolated or by locking the door during work hours. Maintaining a private working space will allow you to concentrate and focus on your work and help in productivity.
  • Pleasurable environment: A pleasurable environment is an important criterion for any work space. The temperature should be mild for you to be in comfort while working. Too hot or too cold will distract you from work. On the other hand, fresh air can be a relaxing alternative. It is preferable to work in a well-ventilated room where there are options to relax your body and your eyes beyond the computer screen and the walls. It is beneficial both health wise and production wise. Thus, it is important to confine your work space within a pleasurable environment.
  • Adequate facilities: For your work you need to have certain facilities such as a computer, outlets, Internet access, and available phone lines. When working from your own space, you need to take care of your own requirements. A proper system and outlets to connect it are the foremost necessity. To research well and be connected with your employer, it is important to have a proper Internet network system as well as a phone line for staying in regular contact with your employer. These are adequate facilities that are a must for every freelancer’s working space.

In addition to these basic needs, other important factors need to be considered to design a proper working space. Comfortable furniture is an important requirement for your working environment, especially when you are dedicating long freelancing working hours. It is not necessary to go for high-priced cozy furniture; you can also go for budgeted furniture that is comfortable and healthy for long hours of use. Lighting is an important factor for your work space. It is important to maintain a healthy level of lighting in your work space to save your eyes from any damage. You can go for a table lamp or lighting for your entire work space. Avoid backlighting and strong lighting to avoid stress on your eyes. You should also go for anti-glare spectacles in order to save your eyes from harmful radiation from your system.

Ergonomics to Improve Working Life for Freelancers:

Ergonomics is another important element for a freelancer to focus on. If you are working for long continuous hours, you might end up causing health issues like back pain, headaches, and visual problems. You can avoid these side effects by maintaining good ergonomics. When working in an office, employers are responsible for good chairs and desks; freelancers need to manage these items themselves. Look for an adjustable office chair where you can adjust your sittings as per your comfort without stressing your body. Choose a desk that is spacious enough for your computer system and other working requirements. Maintain a proper distance between the desk and chair for comfortable work and to relax your eyes at the same time. When you are working on a laptop, use a separate keyboard and mouse, which will help you to maintain a comfortable position while typing as well as manage the proper distance between your screen and your eyes. You should also maintain good posture when sitting for working in a healthy way. When you work from home, you will be working alone and sometimes the silence may not be enjoyable. You can play your favorite music in the background to prevent external noises from interfering with your work and to avoid complete silence if it bothers your during work.

Many options are available to relax muscles from the strain of continuous work, such as workout balls. It is important to change your sitting posture after every 30 minutes. You can work out simple neck and leg exercises in the middle to relax your muscles. You can change your chair adjustment after several hours to create a balance in order to avoid straining your body. Relax your eyes often during work by blinking. You can shut your eyes for 2 to 5 minutes after every half an hour to avoid causing visual strain. Avoid looking continuously at your screen and incorporate often breaks to relax, looking through the window or just shutting your eyes for a few minutes. Using clean water to wash once or twice a day during work is beneficial as it helps your eyes refresh and clear the dirt and continuous stress. Use ergonomic mouse pads for comfortable wrist support. If you use phones very often for you freelance work, try to use a hands-free headset in order to avoid crunching your neck. Consider such ergonomics in your work space in order to keep yourself healthy for a healthy productivity in return. Also remember to take breaks after stressful hours. You can plan for tea and lunch breaks in order to relax from the stressful work.

Separating Professional and Personal Life:

Freelancers have the choice of managing their own work time per their comfort zone. However, it is beneficial to follow an organized schedule for work. You can work whenever you choose, but try to follow a proper and organized work time in order to work better. The most important thing while managing timelines is to separate work and life. You might think you can work and live your personal life simultaneously, but this might lead to confusion and you ending up at complete loss from both sides. In addition, you might work too hard, neglecting your personal life; however, missing sleep and rest will lead to mental disturbance and less productive work. Therefore, fix your time for work and don’t bring it into your leisure time. This will help you balance your work life and personal life properly.

In order to maintain your work and personal life, create a balance in both. It is necessary to create a comfortable work space at home, but don’t equate that comfort to luxury. Don’t indulge in television or games during work as these things might distract you from your work. Meanwhile, don’t bring work into your personal life as it might frustrate you. Thus, distinguish between your work and play hours. For example, suppose you need to work eight hours. You can work from 9 to 6, taking a one-hour break in the middle. You can also manage it as 9 to 5 or 5.30 if you don’t want to take a one-hour break. If your prefer working in the evening, you can also define your work hours as 12 to 8. This is the greatest advantage of freelancers; you can manage your timeline according to your desires. The goal is to define a schedule and stick to it. If you find your work monotonous, shift your schedule for a change. This will give you a change and offer you a refreshing mind to work better.

Freelancers should be upfront about their timelines. Your family and friends might not understand the seriousness of your job. They might feel that, as a freelancer, you can work at any period of time, so they call you to go shopping or do some other work during your office hours. You need to make them understand about the seriousness and schedule of your work. Do so from the very beginning to avoid misunderstandings in the future.

If your work requires you to use the phone, use a separate working line to avoid friends and families interrupting your work hours. Such calls might distract your space and hamper your productivity. Similarly, you do not was a work call during your leisure time. Using different phone lines will balance your work and play properly.

For freelancers one of the other advantages is that they don’t need to maintain any dress code during work. However, it is preferable to maintain personal hygiene etiquette at home too. Define freshen up and bathing time for yourself. You are of course free to wear comfortable outfits unless you expect a client.

Taking Breaks is Necessary:

As previously mentioned, it is important to take breaks during working hours. When you are working for 7 to 8 hours, it is very important for you to take a lunch break to refresh your mind and relax your body. However, don’t make yourself so relaxed that your mind and body refuse to go back to work. Sometimes you need to stretch your work hours and work late during deadlines or peak times Go for it, but maintain your health during those hours as well. Health comes foremost in your life because if you are not fit enough, you cannot work productively. In addition, illness might cause you greater loss. Therefore, take good care of your health along with being professional. You can go for regular meditation and exercise session to maintain your health. Also eat good food at appropriate times. Ultimately, while dividing your work and leisure times, do not compromise either side.

Importance of Tracking Time for Freelancers:

Another important factor for freelancers is to track their time, particularly when paid per hour. Tracking your work time perfectly will help you include that in your invoice or budget and gain benefits. Tracking time also helps you plan your freelancing regime as you realize how much time certain work needs. It definitely takes longer when you first start, but once you become accustom to the flow, you require lesser and controlled time. Suppose your job is to write 300-word articles and you need about 15 to 20 minutes to complete one. You can make determine how many articles you will be able to complete by the end of the day. This will also help you declare future commitments for such articles. Thus, tracking time helps you improve your professionalism and work style. However, a common mistake that freelancers make is failing to track research time. When you write an article in about 15 to 20 minutes, that is the time required for actual writing. Extra time is required for research and study prior to the write-ups. Failing to track that time might lead you to unwanted commitments and failure. It might also hamper your productivity due to the lack of time. Therefore, make sure that you include your before and after work timing as well tracking your actually work time.

There are many ways to track your work hours. You can use paper, email, spreadsheets, and so forth, although these methods require extensive manual work. You can also get widgets for your computer for recording such data. A few of the popular sites that provide this facility are Getharvest.com, Tickspot.com, and Basecamphq.com. These sites offer facilities for tracking your work hours, accounting, and so on. Many such sites offer a trial pack for free; others offer it for affordable prices. These features help you to record your time simply and without much effort.

Clarify Your Work Schedule:

You might get work on a project or daily basis but need to report it daily, weekly or monthly. It is important to maintain a scheduled time, as previously mentioned. You might choose to work in the morning or late at night as per your comfort but do make sure that you inform your employer of your schedule and timelines. You should focus on clear and appropriate communication. For example, if you need to report on a daily basis and your employer is uninformed about your scheduled time, he or she might expect your report by the evening. However, if you enjoy working late at night, this might create unnecessary confusion. Therefore, make sure that you are clear about your time with your employer.

In addition to these guidelines, many other factors should be addressed to succeed as a professional freelancer:

  • Organize work: Organize your time and work properly. You can make use of Google Docs and spreadsheets for recording your work. Keep your file system organized and keep your work data arranged. Try to maintain a separate work folder to keep your work-related data and files organized.
  • Actively respond to emails: Actively respond to emails so that you don’t miss updates from your employers. Maintain at least minimum contact with your employer on a regular basis. Respond to their emails quickly and speak up clearly on issues. Only straightforward communication is healthy in this situation. Avoid unwanted notifications and preferably use a separate account for work purposes. Most importantly, check your emails regularly.
  • Update software: Keep you software and browser updated for better and faster work. Nowadays you can get updated versions of software and browsers via the Internet immediately after their launch. Keep yourself updated to be able to access new features and benefits.
  • Keep backups of work: You need to maintain backups in the case of a crisis. It is very important to keep backups for your work—be it writing articles, writing codes, or designing sites. Many online tools are available, such as mozy.com and idrive.com. You can use this to backup your work and records.
  • Build contacts: One of the important tasks in freelancing is building contacts. It is not a salaried task that you will be offered work at your desk. You need to build up contacts and present yourself to others to get work. Keep your profiles updated on freelancing sites and professional linking sites. Try to keep your past employers as contacts and find prospects for future contacts.

Finally, but most importantly, commit to work as much as is possible for you. It is preferable to take one job at a time and have another job lined up after completion of the first one. Don’t stress yourself with much work because that will hamper your productivity. You will be a successful freelancer only if you offer a quality product. More work might lead to a lack in quality and hamper your reputation. Therefore, be deadline conscious and quality conscious at the same time. Quality work is the secret of success in any work. All these are the guidelines for succeeding as a professional freelancer. Follow these guidelines and your hard work will lead to success.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks Naheed, very much to the point.

    I am afraid that freelancing involves high level of discipline because you can get distracted and unproductive easily.

    • Freelancing is demanding!

  2. Hi Nahid! The way that you have explained about how to become a professional freelancer is very interesting to read. I hope it would be more helpful to my friend as he is trying to become a professional freelancer. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Thank you Henry, stay tuned there are more coming up!

  3. Nice informative article.Thank you for sharing.

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