It might be damp and dreary, but January is a time for optimism. Time to draw a line under the ups and downs of the previous 12 months. A time for new beginnings, blank slates and positive thinking.
With a shiny new year stretching out ahead of you, anything is possible. Feeling inspired? Then here are 19 ways to make 2019 the year when your freelance career hits new heights…
- Expand your toolkit: Mastering the right tools and technology, whether that’s a productivity app, audience insights tool, or digital tracking platform, can help you to deliver more successful campaigns and command higher rates, So, make time to research and trial what’s out there.
- Collaborate: Want to work on bigger projects? Then a freelance team could be the answer. Tap into your existing network or use The Work Crowd to find freelancers with the complementary skills you need to run bigger, more integrated campaigns. You can read more about freelance teams here.
- Network: Networking is widely considered to be one of the best ways to win new business, find potential partners and boost your industry knowledge. There are loads of industry events to choose from and, if you’re short on time, online groups are another great way of connecting with useful contacts.
- Upskill: Wish you knew more about a particular subject? Or want to expand your service offering? Then why not invest in a training programme to boost your skills. The PRCA runs a range of courses, as do private providers such as the Henshall Centre.
- Build a website: An online presence is a great way to demonstrate your professionalism and showcase your work, making it easier to win projects. There are tonnes of template website you can use to build your own, or you can hire a web developer who will build you one for a few hundred pounds.
- Do your own PR: Being seen in the right places will do wonders for your ability to win the best clients. So make 2019 the year when you seek out opportunities to speak at events, comment on social media, or contribute articles and quotes to relevant media titles.
- Increase your rates: Feel like your rates are lower than you deserve? Then it could be time to bite the bullet and ask for more. Raising your rates isn’t as hard as it sounds. For the lowdown check out our blog on the subject or download our freelancer day rate survey.
- Be brave: Creativity and thinking differently is a big part of success in PR and marketing, and more creative campaigns can also mean bigger budgets. So, get out of your comfort zone and think big. Try our creativity hacks for some inspiration.
- Work less: Many freelancers feel like they have to say ‘yes’ to everything, but this will only lead to stress, burn-out and a drop in the quality of your work. Making time for yourself is vital to stay healthy, and ensure you’re delivering your best at all times. Top tip: This is easier when combined with no.7!
- Say goodbye to the home office: There’s nothing better to supercharge your professionalism than taking the plunge and investing in a coworking membership. Here’s our list of the best coworking spaces for freelancers.
- Conquer your admin mountain: Admin is the least fun part of being a freelancer but staying on top of it means less stress for you, not to mention keeping the taxman happy. Make 2019 the year when you finally get on top of it with our rundown of what to think about, when.
- Show your value: Finding time – and budget – for extensive tracking and reporting is hard when you’re working on your own. But showing the value you’re delivering will help you keep clients onside, not to mention give you justification to demand bigger budgets. Here are some digital PR metrics to try.
- Listen more: It might sound simple, but just listening more to your client’s challenges and asking more of the right questions can make a huge difference to your success – and your client relationships. So, before you launch into giving your opinions or sales pitch, ensure you’ve fully understood the client’s perspective first.
- Outsource: Time is money, so if you’re spending time on tasks that you could outsource for less, it’s probably a worthwhile investment. We’re thinking tasks like managing your accounts, copywriting, even personal things like washing and cleaning. Every little helps!
- Expand your services: Think about other complementary offerings you can add to your repertoire to boost the scope of work and rates you can command. This works especially well when combined with no.2, so you have a whole host of skills to draw on.
- Review your positioning: It’s amazing the difference that positioning can make to how clients perceive you. Marketing people love buzzwords, strategy and methodology, so incorporating some of these can help get you noticed, while magnifying the value you provide.
- Cut over-servicing: We all dread those ‘Can you just…?’ requests, knowing we shouldn’t say ‘yes’, but not wanting to have a tricky conversation. Yet every time you work beyond the hours or activity agreed, you’re losing cash and time that you could be spending elsewhere. It’s time to start saying ‘no’.
- Go after bigger clients: Working with bigger brands often means bigger budgets, more interesting work, plus it’s great for your CV. See if you can make inroads through existing contacts, social media, or even dropping a speculative call or email to the right person.
- Become accredited: Joining the PRCA or CIPR demonstrates that you take best practice seriously, while also giving you other member benefits such as networking and development opportunities. It could be just the boost you need for the year ahead.
Phew! There you have it – 19 ways to make 2019 your best freelancing year yet. Of course, we don’t expect you to do all of them – you don’t want to overload yourself all at once. But if there are a couple that you think could particularly benefit your business, then focus on making them happen. The year is yours for the taking!