Asking For a Friend | Chapter 21
Advice from Babe to Babe
Thinking about diving into the world of freelance? Still looking to perfect your freelancing routine? Or wondering how to communicate with demanding clients? The BWH Advice Gurus are here to help!
The key to working from home is being in touch with what works best for you, and adapting your schedule around that. If you’re a morning person, try hopping on early and getting the bulk of things done before your colleagues pop online, and give yourself a mini afternoon break to tackle something else on your to-do list. Maybe you work best in small spurts, so try setting a timer for 50 or 55 minutes, and spend the rest of the hour focusing on yourself—maybe a quick podcast, or journaling or mini meditation session. Maybe you need to change the definition of “working from home.” Try checking out a local cafe and getting a couple hours of work done there to break up the day.
I’ve been working from home for almost two months now, and the biggest favor I’ve done for myself is create accountability. I use the Toggl timer app to track my working hours, and I try to converse with team members from one of my many gigs to keep my extraverted, creative juices flowing. This has helped a lot, along with other smaller changes like starting at exactly 8:00 a.m. each day, wearing semi-professional clothes at my desk, and using headphones to help me focus.
Finding a perfectly productive routine is a long trial-and-error process. While I’m waiting for a few more habits to click into place, I still go to coffee shops when I just can’t concentrate at home and I try to maintain some self-forgiveness on my “off” days. Like navigating a new office, it takes some time and training to get used to a remote routine. You’ve got this, babe!
—MARA STROBEL-LANKA, BWH CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Don't get mad at yourself. As long as your work is getting done well and by deadline, don't feel so guilty. Some days you're gonna be on a roll and work for 12 hours and bust every item off your list. Some days you're not gonna open your laptop until noon. Of course, balance is healthiest and managing your time efficiently is ideal, but that can't always happen. If you know you're the type of person who can have on-days and off-days when it comes to focus, plan ahead! As long as you're getting it done and not making yourself lose it, giving yourself freedom when you can is OK.
—MOLLY SLICKER, CONTRIBUTOR
When you’re working full-time, it can be difficult to put in the work to get even more work. That’s why you make your network work for you! Giveaways and referral systems are a great way to broaden your network. You know those annoying Instagrams that ask you to tag a friend and follow for a giveaway? Well, they actually work! Or, take things offline and follow up with existing customers to see how they’re doing, and offer them a referral bonus or free product in return. You have a network—you’re just not getting everything out of it. Start there, and see how things snowball.
I say this all the time, but you’ve got to get past being afraid of self-promotion if you want to get the word out—no matter what you’re doing. Post about it on all of your social media platforms. Send out an email blast to everyone you can think of. Ask colleagues if they’re looking for freelancers—or know of anyone looking for freelancers—to keep you in mind, and give them your resume and/or portfolio so they have a reference point. Go old-school and put flyers up around town. Tell your parents to tell their friends (they’ll love it, and they’ll tell everyone they know). Join every freelance database and Facebook group you can find, and lay out your objectives and skills thoroughly. Make sure your past freelance clients know you’re always available to take on more projects, and ask them to tell others in their circles. You’ve got to be fervent and unapologetic about promoting yourself (over and over and over again) but also following up those promotions with evidence of why they should hire you for the job. And then remind them again when they forget.
—CHELSEA DUDEVOIRE, BWH CEO + FOUNDER
Girl. These relationships are all about boundaries, and luckily for you, the New Year is the perfect time to roll out new client/vendor guidelines.
In my business, I have a PDF called a “Client Welcome Kit” (I’m happy to pass it along for you to peep. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) which outlines exactly how our relationship will work (e.g. How we communicate (Slack, email, etc.), what my office hours are, when I invoice, when that payment is due, etc. The document is beneficial for both parties because there’s no second-guessing anything.
Though this is a document for new, onboarding clients, it can also be sent to existing clients with the message of, “I know we’ve been working together for some time now, but I’ve recently created some new systems and structure in my business and I’m passing along a helpful guide of what you can expect from me, and likewise, what I ask for my clients in return”
Now the boundaries have been set and it’s up to you to enforce them. For example, if you ask that your clients don’t text or call your personal cell phone unless it’s an emergency, and they chose to anyway, do not answer. Send them an email saying you saw their call/text and you’d like to remind them that you’re keeping your cell personal and taking this conversation on email so no important details get lost in the mix. They’ll eventually get on board and you’ll start to find yourself less triggered working with them.
As freelancers and/or business owners, we want to do everything in our power to accommodate our clients, which is wonderful, and likely why they love working with you. But having healthy boundaries will create a better work environment for all parties involved, and likely extend the longevity of the relationship by avoiding burnout.
Until Next Week,
—THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!