How did I sail through when I didn’t have a consistent income? Being a freelancer comes with a beginning of inconsistent and unsustainable results and a life of unpredictable turns. It is an adventurous path to take. Ups and downs, both exist. But, I have been able to bring some predictability and sanity with a few habits.
How did it start? “ I worked very hard during my initial months as a freelancer but was hitting the same deadend again and again. My monthly targets were not met. I paused and became very self critical about my processes which helped me excavate my mistakes. It was important for me to turn them around and fix them. I stuck to 7 habits that helped me grow out of the fear that comes with a pattern of unpredictable payments and the stress of judging myself based on the past.”
So here are a total of 14 habits.
7 habits that can help you with a consistent income as a freelancer
- Screening clients. In the world of marketing, ‘Ideal Customer Profile’ or ICP is where marketers begin their work. It’s applicable to freelancers too. If I have been able to meet someone who fulfills the criteria of my ICP, I will pursue them further and entertain their proposal. If not, I give them a polite “No”.
While I offered content solutions, my ICP looked like this. My clients had to fulfill all parameters of this criteria for me to say a “yes”.
- Industry: B2B Emerging tech and Martech so that I can deliver great work
- Marketing budget: Above 10 to 25 crores per annum so that they can afford me
- Matured marketing teams so that I don’t have to deal with educating them from scratch
- Defined scope of work either in the areas of branding, sales enablement and/or lead generation.
- Monthly retainer vs one time projects. This was a critical decision. It helped me plan my time and income. It helped me predict how much time I would have to spend in a day/ week/ month and how much money I get in a month.
I would ask my clients ahead of signing the agreement, their preferred format of engagement with me. It helped me avoid conflicts in the future. This helped me set a price for the project that didn’t disappoint my clients or me.
- Planning my day. It may sound obvious, but it only works when you have an accountability partner. I made my husband the accountability partner by sharing my calendar with him. That let him know when I am available for family work and when I am at work. That helped me avoid getting multiple calls on fixing the washing machine. I also planned my day to get the most work done by bucketing tasks based on my energy levels.
- Time with my family. How does this help in getting consistent income? This tells me how long I am available at work. It puts some control on me when I am eating into my own family time and spending time completing my client’s work. It reminds me that the purpose of choosing freelancing was to enjoy more time with family and flexibility. It definitely helped me avoid overworking.
- Saving before spending. My father told me about a man who always had the discipline to save money and set it aside as soon as he received that month’s income. And then, with whatever was left he fulfilled his needs and met expenses only with the remaining. He turned out to be the world’s richest man -Warren Buffet. This trick of money management helped me save for the tough and rough days.
- Timely Invoicing. I know many freelancers who never send out an invoice to the client after completion of work. This is a professional way of asking for money. Without asking money don’t expect people to remember how much and by when they should pay you.
- Creating a safety net when you lose clients. Churn is a reality. Some may have a slow rate and some may experience high churn rates. For me it has always been slow and predictable. But, when I lost two clients and 6 months of contract during COVID, it shook me. It not only disturbed my monthly financial goals, but also impacted my payouts just like any other business.
While these habits helped me enjoy a consistent income all through my freelancing career, I have seven other habits that worked in my favor, brought luck!
7 habits that will bring you luck as a freelance content writer
As much as consistent income adds courage, a little bit of luck adds faith. I believe that luck is as much earned as income. How?
I figured out seven habits that can actually bring luck in a freelancer’s life. Here’s how?
- Be persistent with follow up. I follow up ardently without any inhibition in my mind of what the other person thinks or may judge about me. This helps in completing mutually dependent tasks within the planned schedule. This works well for invoice payment.
- Don’t forget to journal everyday. Trust me some days are in my favor of creativity and some are not. Journaling has helped me bundle up my ideas on the most creative days and add a simple note that I had no ideas for the day. Eventually over time, I have had more creative days than the zoned out ones.
When I am out of ideas,all I have to do is surf through my journal for a solution or inspirations.
- Be consistent on one social media channel to begin with. Influencers are everywhere. The sheer noise gets overwhelming. Working on too many channels to reach to your audience and build a community can get difficult. Working on just one channel increases familiarity which is necessary for your personal brand recall.
- Plan for 15-18 days and not 30 days in a month. We are humans. Every human mind will experience burnout at some point and as social beings, we need to chalk out time for emergencies. I plan for 15- 18 days instead of 30 days. Let’s see why?
Consider weekends, holidays, creative block days, looping in iterations and feedback – all this takes away 10 – 15 days. For real work, you are left with 15 – 18 days. This helps you deal with the entropy.
- Invite paid samples and free learning. Respect your time by welcoming delivery of paid samples. Free sample is an abuse of your time. At the same time when you know nothing about an area of work, but you choose to explore a new opportunity, offer free services. Instead of paying for a course, consider yourself lucky as you get to learn on the ground for free at the cost of someone else.
- Research your decisions. Don’t be sold by what other people tell you. Don’t blame others for your decisions. Talk to people who have been through similar scenarios, calculate your odds, and follow your heart and intuition.
- Create your friendly network of masters. Second opinion always comes in handy. If it comes from an expert, it’s even better. Find friends among accountants, lawyers, engineers, designers, and other such professionals who matter to your line of work.
Start putting them in practice. Share with us which habit has helped you the most. This is just the beginning of a freelance writer’s career.
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