December 3rd, 2020 in Productivity
There is a lot to cover in terms of freelancing. In the previous article, by-project rates and hourly commitments were compared. As well, it covered the pros and cons of freelancing contracts and how to determine your rate. This article will outline the benefits of using a task management software as a freelancer, alongside how to file invoices and find clients.
Why Use a Task Management Software?
Firstly, what exactly is a task management software? In short, it is a tool, often online, that allows you to organize projects into individual tasks. It can be used by individuals, such as freelancers, companies, such as consulting firms, and with clients. The goal of the software is to improve organization, communication, and planning of a project while ensuring everyone knows their responsibilities.
A good task management software allows for projects to be broken down into tasks and displayed in a way that outlines the workflow. One popular method of display is the Kanban board. At the most basic, Kanban boards contain three columns, To Do, Doing, and Done. Each task in the project is placed within one of these columns and then moved across the board to reflect the workflow.
Project calendars are also a common way to show when individual tasks are due. It allows you to see how each task is placed within the grander timeline of the project. When looking for a task management software, search for a software that offers customizable tasks and projects, in-app communication, and visualization tools such as Kanban boards and calendars.
For freelancers, a task management software allows you to better organize yourself and your projects, whether you work on a by-project or hourly commitment. When faced with many projects, this type of software will help you break them down into easily managed tasks that are organized by project, so you never lose track of what task is part of what project. It is paramount when working multiple contracts to stay organized to ensure you are aware of all your commitments.
How to File an Invoice
Another important facet of freelancing is filing invoices. Some task management software offer time logs. A strong software will allow you to track the time spent on individual projects and tasks so you will always know how much time you spent per task and which task was for which project. Ensure that you are always tracking the time spent per task and per project in order to create itemized invoices.
An itemized invoice is an invoice that breaks down how much time you spent on individual tasks. You should break down your invoice into item (aka task), the description of that task (what you did to accomplish the task), the hours spent on the item, and the total cost of that item as per your rate of pay. For example, your item: blogs (2), the description: writing, editing, filing, hours: 10, and line total: $300 ($30 an hour). Be sure to add in the subtotal of the invoice, the sales tax, and the total after the sales tax.
In your invoice, be sure to add the date of the invoice, the invoice number, the client it is for, and where to send the payment (e.g. your name, email address, and home address). When saving the invoice, save the name of the document something similar to lastname-invoice-date-client (e.g. smith-invoice-august-2019-company).
After your itemized invoice is complete, submit it to your client contact. Keep a copy for your records. Using a PDF ensures that the document cannot be changed after you submit it.
How to Find Clients
Finding clients is one of the more difficult parts of being a freelancer. There are websites, such as Upwork, that offers freelancers a place to post their services for clients to see. While these sites may not bring in high-paying projects, they are a smart way to build a portfolio and a reputation. As well, advertise your freelancing services on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media platform that you have. Sometimes potential clients will reach out to you on your social media.
Another option is to network using your friends, family, and co-workers. Ask them if there are any projects that they need done, or if they know of anyone who is looking for a freelancer. Doing small pro bono (free) work that is not very time or energy consuming is a good way to build a portfolio, especially for graphic designers. If you are comfortable with doing larger projects for free, try reaching out to community organizations and non-for-profits that may need help but cannot afford to hire someone. Volunteering also looks great on a resume.
Before you pitch to a potential client, ensure that you understand what they do. Do your research on the company. Be prepared to explain how your services can better their business with examples of your previous work. Prepare a portfolio that demonstrates your abilities. Be sure to include the work that has been through the critique cycle with a client. Having work that has been critiqued and improved upon is stronger than having work that has never been reviewed by someone else.
While it can be difficult to find clients, the most important thing is to not be discouraged. Be prepared to put in the hours to advertise yourself online. If you stay up-to-date in your services, you will have a better chance at finding success.