The beginning of a new year brings renowned hope and optimism for many freelancers and small business owners. There’s something about a fresh year that is invigorating. It’s the time when many people make New Year’s resolutions, filled with good intentions, and genuinely try to stick to them.
Unfortunately, some studies suggest up to 80 percent of resolutions fall by the wayside by the second week of February. And this is rather disappointing. A new year really is a wonderful time for freelancing professionals and solopreneurs to develop new habits and mindsets that will lead to more success.
Successful business people know that meeting goals and fulfilling dreams takes time and a lot of hard work. Freelancers who go on to earn a lot of money and live the freelancing lifestyle most can only dream about have made resolutions and stuck to them, often rigidly. And that’s the key to success.
Strong New Year freelancing resolutions
So what are some new year resolutions every freelancer should maintain as we continue through January?
- Always target the right client base
It’s surprising but many freelancers are working with the wrong clients. That’s why many are unhappy, paid peanuts, and overstressed. One of the most important things you can do when freelancing is to target clients who respect your skills, your rates, and the results you can achieve for them. Select your target clients carefully. Drop bad clients who treat you poorly, as soon as possible.
- Continuously improve your brand and marketing
Part of attracting great clients is creating a strong brand. A strong brand and matching marketing campaign attracts the best prospects as well as those with the money to match your rates. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to marketing, so ensure you spend some time each week actively putting yourself out there and improving your more long-term inbound content marketing.
- Improve your skills
Being a great freelancer means staying up-to-date with the latest trends, skillsets, and knowledge within your industry and those of your clients. Every week should be a learning week and a chance to improve your skills, even if just a little bit. Devote a few hours each week to reading publications, listening to podcasts, and watching talks on your subject specialisms.
- Make physical health a priority
An unhealthy body leads to an unhealthy mind. Lack of exercise, poor sleep, a bad diet, and excessive alcohol intake, can all negatively impact our creativity, productivity, and memory. Healthy habits can soon lead to dramatic improvements in both mental and emotional wellbeing. Sign up to a fitness apps and go exercising a few times a week (you might try CrossFit). Research healthy eating plans and reduce alcohol intake where possible.
- Develop and maintain healthy mental habits
Healthy physical activity and diet can positively influence mindset but poor thinking habits also need to be addressed. Negative thinking, angry self-talk, and lack of focus all lead to a freelancing career hampered by self-sabotage. Actively focus on improving your mental wellbeing including practicing meditation, working with a mentor or therapist, dropping clients who bring you down, and looking for the positives when it comes to your skills and talents.
- Refuse to be manipulated or pressured into reducing rates
Part of a healthy mindset is strong self-confidence. Working as a freelancer can be a very lonely business at times. You’re working for yourself and often have to make decisions without any help from anyone else. It’s all too easy, if you’re struggling with confidence issues, to be pressured by a client to work longer hours and for less pay. Make one of your New Year resolutions (it’s not too late, even in mid-January) a red line you won’t cross when it comes to the minimum fee you will accept (see also: negotiation tips).
- Ensure admin tasks are maintained to a high standard
Billable client work is only one part of your freelancing schedule. Admin work can often eat up a sizeable chunk of your time. However, while often boring and annoying, admin work is vital. Procedures such as recording income/expenditure, invoicing clients, updating websites, and arranging appointments and to-do lists are the cogs in a successful freelancing machine. Make peace with admin tasks and ensure they’re done well, and if not, you can always delegate the work to others.
- Make better use of your time
Part of a smooth workflow, cash flow, and happy client flow is your ability to make the best use of your time. From client meetings and billable client projects to self-marketing, admin tasks, and even out-of-hours activities, it’s essential to know where your minutes and hours are going. Invest in tools which allow to continuously measure, record, plan, and adapt to your ever-changing workflows. Never let up in the monitoring, even for one day.
- Work with the right software
Investing in the right tools and software is incredibly important for any type of freelancer. Working for yourself is hard at the best of times. The latest technology and software can act like a second and even third pair of hands. Integrations between apps and platforms, automation systems, and two-way syncing abilities, make project, admin, finance, and communication tasks a lot easier than they otherwise need to be. Use software, like Invoice Ninja’s invoicing software, to your advantage.
- Always be planning ahead
What are your goals for the new year? Where do you want to be this time next year? How much money do you want to be making in 12 months’ time? Having concrete goals and plans is essential when you’re developing and maintaining a freelancing business, even when you’re a decade into your career. A lack of focus, drive, and dreams, can soon make you stagnate and tread water when it comes to improving your income.
New Year’s resolutions for successful freelancing results
Actively forge new targets each month and plan ahead what needs to be done to meet those goals. Celebrate when you reach milestones, however small, and then look ahead to the next milestone and push forwards.
Make resolutions, not just every year, but every month, and even every week! Continuously review the resolutions you make at the beginning of the year and remind yourself of their importance every day. By doing so, you’ll quickly notice a difference in not just the success you achieve but also in your productivity, focus, and wellbeing. It will also help you fuel your motivation.