Tim Aldred - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelance commercial writer, successfully navigating self-employment one unexpected obstacle at a time. Contact me at twitter.com/tim_aldred

Freelancers: 7 uses for bank holidays

Her Royal Highness The Queen has been very kind to the working public and given us a four-day weekend. Combined with half-term, that’s a lot of people out of the office and not much work getting done. Your phone is going to go quiet and your inbox will remain relatively untroubled for the next week or so.

Of course, most freelancers don’t benefit from bank holidays. A day without a freelance job or freelance work is a day we didn’t get paid. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a productive week. There’s more to do than sitting at home clicking Send/Receive, so here’s seven useful ways to spend a quiet week:

 

1: Get organised

With a few days to yourself, you have all the opportunity and none of the excuses to getting around to doing all those things you keep putting off.

Tidying up the office a bit, filing all those hand-written scribbled notes that are lying around, making sure your diary’s up to date, updating your blog, it could be any number of things. And whilst lazing on the sofa catching up with your DVD boxsets has its appeal, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to finally get those niggling little things crossed off your ‘to do’ list.

 

2: Sort your paperwork

Has all the work you’ve done been invoiced? Have all the invoices you’ve sent out been paid? Are you on top of all your bills? Is the taxman still in the loop?

The best bit about getting on top of your paperwork is that, once it’s done, it’s one less thing to worry about, it frees the mind and feels good. Another advantage is occasionally finding an outstanding payment, something you hadn’t accounted for.

If you spot some money that you’re owed, this can lead to a little something extra in your bank account. And who doesn’t feel like that’s a great way of spending your downtime?

 

3: Make a plan

With few interruptions, now is the opportunity to get a little creative and dream.

It’s easy to fall into a routine, as a freelancer, when work is flowing in. We win new contracts, do the work, sort the invoice and repeat. It’s easy to forget the bigger picture, so now’s the time to give it some thought.

Assess whether what you’re doing is really what you want. Picture what you’d like to be doing in a year’s time. Or five, or maybe even ten.

Then work out what you’d need to be doing to achieve those goals and draw up a plan to make it so.

 

4: Have a nosey

Freelancers must be their own marketing, sales, research and business development teams, all at the same time, all on top of doing the work we’re paid to do.

To be effective at this, you need to know what the competition is up to. What are other people in your industry saying about themselves? What are they charging? Are there any obvious gaps in the market you could fill?

Google some of your competitors, have a read through their Twitter feeds and log on to some industry publications. The more you understand your industry, the better equipped you’ll be to succeed in it.

 

5: Get back in touch

Occasionally, good customers will drift away. Others might stop abruptly. You might notice that they don’t call any more, or they may have slipped off your radar without much fuss.

Go through your old records to learn who has gone quiet on you. Now is your chance to drop them a friendly email or to give them a call.

It might be that they’ve got a project coming up and you’ve motivated them to finally start it, or perhaps you’d subtly slipped off their own radar and, now that you come to mention it, maybe there is something you can help with.

There’s no harm, and nothing rude, about reminding people you exist. It’s good business practice, and you never know what might come of it.

 

6: Call someone new

Now is also a great opportunity to make some new connections as well as reviving old ones.

If there is a company you’ve always wanted to work for, a new organisation that you think you could help, or another freelancer you might be able to partner up with, it pays to brush up your portfolio and make the first move.

Making introductions is what helps us thrive as freelancers but can often fall down the priority list behind tackling work that actually pays. Quiet days offer the ideal opportunity to redress that.

 

7: Host a barbecue

Working as a freelancer can involve long, stressful hours, and we deserve holidays, too.

Maybe there is one or even a handful of the list above that we could work on, but it’s important not to forget that we’re more productive after a rest.

It’s a bank holiday weekend and we should be able to take advantage of that. Get outside and do something fun. Pick up some charcoal and some beers and invite your friends around for a barbecue (weather permitting) or take a trip to see your family.

If everyone’s kicking back at home for the next few days then your loved ones will be too. Don’t forget them, they’re every bit as important as seeing your business succeed.

 

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Written by Tim Aldred on June 4, 2012 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelance Jobs, Freelancers, Opinion , , , , ,


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