Top tips for juggling freelance work

Whether it’s writing online articles, proofreading CVs or getting started on a new publication, freelance work can build up quickly and become overpowering if you don’t keep on top of everything. As hard as it is to say no to keen customers, sometimes you have to in order to keep on top of the jobs you have going and to do a good job of everything you undertake. However often a little organisation and time management with a diary packed full of notes and deadlines will enable you to say yes more and keep up with the work load that freelancing can bring. Here are a few tips from one freelancer to another on what works best for juggling freelance work.

A diary is a must

I personally live by my little blue book with a pretty cover. I graduated last year and though I’ve not gone into a career-based job yet, I have built up a solid custom of freelance work while maintaining hours at the local shop that I’ve worked at throughout my time at university.

I have a few larger projects on the go which are my main focus and will hopefully become the beginning of my career as a writer, but on top of this I am gathering smaller freelance writing projects all the time.

I began taking on freelance work seriously on top of all other commitments I had at the beginning of this year and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I started to feel a little stressed and bombarded.

Whether it’s an app on your phone or the physical old fashioned hard copy diary, I have found that having one is an absolute necessity. I turned straight to my diary when my mind stared at my laptop and shouted ‘No!’ and began writing lists, prioritising jobs with closer deadlines or more importance. In no time at all my mind felt clearer about the tasks I had to complete and I was able to crack on again.

Be realistic

With freelance work it is essential to be realistic. This is both in terms of your workload as well as financially. Though it can be extremely hard to say no because you think you can squeeze another job in somewhere, sometimes you simply have to.

When approached, consider how much time that job is going to take you and allow for a leeway. So often do I think some research will take me five minutes and two hours later I am still going or an article will take an hour but it only takes half that time.

Another thing to consider when deciding whether you can sensibly dedicate enough time to the job is deadlines and optimising your workload. Which jobs are the most important, which need to be completed soon and when does the new customer wish to have their job completed by. These are the questions I try to ask myself more to help me decipher my workload.

Get to know your optimum working time and how long things take and then charge accordingly. Seeing as I’ve only just started out my hourly rates aren’t very high but one thing I make sure that I do is charge. Your work is valuable to whoever is asking for it and they will pay whatever they are prepared to.

Variety is good

No matter how large or small a job is, everything will have some benefit to you. Particularly in writing it is good to exercise different parts of your brain and improve a variety of writing styles to a range of audiences all the time.

I find that if one job gets too much during a particular block of working time, by switching to a task completely separate and different to that one enables me to continue. For example, if my mind feels boggled while proofreading a CV, I turn to writing another chapter of my novel and find I can do that with ease, my brain feeling refreshed.

Take on as much work as you can and in as many areas within the field as you can because it’ll pay off in the long run giving you experience across the board. Besides, when things get too much there are many coping mechanisms out there.

Keep the glass half full

Freelancing can be a tough and lonely game and often I sit at my desk and consider other options. It can be difficult to remain positive when things don’t seem to be going your way or work is slow. I sometimes feel myself going a little crazy and doing insane things like waking up before I start my shift work to write ideas so I don’t forget them or to get a small job out of the way so it isn’t looming over me. But there are methods to avoid that.

Then I stop myself and question whether working this way is enjoyable and it is. I ask myself is my writing improving? It definitely is. I also am a firm believer of listening to your gut and I know that my projects are going to lead to big opportunities in one way or another, they’re benefiting me already and the future is exciting.

There are lots of good things about freelancing and a lot of people need you. Keep going, be kind to yourself and be realistic about what you take on. At the end of the day it should be an enjoyable element to your working life, make sure it stays that way.

Harriet Mills is an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate based at her hometown near Cambridge. She is an aspiring writer interested in features and travel writing. She is keen to pursue copywriting as a career as well as maintaining her position as a freelance writer. For more of her story check out her personal website.

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