For freelancers, there’s a direct correlation between how many hours you work and how much money you make. Increasing your income can be tough because there are only 24 hours on any given day and most of us have to do things like sleep and spend time with our family at some point. Even when we’re working, we have to spend hours on administrative tasks that we’re not actually getting paid for. There are a few ways to increase the number of hours you can devote to paying work — without cutting the number of hours you sleep each night. Some require a little upfront investment of time, but a few extra hours can be worth it.
1. Establish a Process for Everything
For any given part of a project, there are certain things you have to do. You may need to email the client a couple of times for information or go looking for stock photography. Those steps can often be made more efficient, especially if you have a clear process in place. If you know that you’re going to need to send out certain emails, for instance, you can create templates, rather than re-writing each email from scratch. You may be able to tweak your processes a little when you pay closer attention to them. Perhaps you wind up getting 90 percent of your stock photos from just a handful of sites — it would make sense to always check those sites first.
2. Bring In an Assistant
If you can find someone to handle non-paying work for less than you earn for an hour’s worth of work, it makes financial sense to hand off certain tasks to an assistant — and if you look at the prices for virtual assistants in countries like India, you can find assistants for a tenth of your hourly rate. Invoicing, searching for stock photography, nagging clients about information — any task that isn’t actually creative work doesn’t have to be your problem, letting you spend more hours on paying work. Working with an assistant is much easier if you have clear steps for each process, letting you get the bonuses of both parts.
3. Hire a Pro
Assistants make financial sense because they cost less than you earn. Hiring a professional — who likely charges a rate more in line with yours — may seem less practical. But a pro can often handle certain tasks in significantly less time than it would take you. A good bookkeeper, for instance, can often get your accounting done in half the time it may take you, especially if you start out with a minimal background in accounting. The same can hold true for certain parts of freelancing projects. Maybe you’re working on a website design that requires a Flash animation. Bringing in someone to handle that animation can save you time that you can spend on other parts of the project.
4. Don’t Start From Scratch
For many projects, starting entirely from scratch each time just isn’t necessary. If you’re writing a report, you can have a templated outline in place. If you’re designing a website, you can bring in code snippets from past projects. The more groundwork you can have in place before you even start, the less time you need to spend on getting a project rolling.
5. Set Time Limits for Administrative Tasks
Many businesses spend half their time on administrative tasks that don’t bring in income. If you can impose limits on just how much time you’ll spend on things like invoicing, you can wind up with more time to spend on projects. It’s important to make sure those tasks get done, but it’s often easier to identify solutions that will help you make yourself more efficient if you know that you’re in a time crunch.