Managing Your Time
The essence of the “slow and steady” metaphor is time management. Setting your own schedule can be overwhelming, and having the flexibility to say “I’ll get to that later” is both an empowering perk of working for yourself and a serious pitfall. Learning to stagger your workload and devote enough time to marketing yourself can be a difficult balance.
I prefer to work at least an 8 hour day, from 9am to 5pm. You know yourself best, whatever your prime hours are, schedule those to be your work time. If you have a lot of assignments on your plate, schedule the majority of the day for your current workload, but be sure to leave at least 1 hour to marketing yourself, and 1 hour a day to further developing your skills. Don’t be rigid, this schedule should be flexible as your workload, marketing needs, and educational demands grow and change.
For example, if you only have a sinlge project on your plate due in one week, projected to take 20 hours, don’t wait to complete it. Conversely, don’t work the entire 20 hours over a couple of days, either. Think slow and steady. This is when it makes sense to spend 4 hours a day on your project, and spend the rest of the day marketing yourself, applying to jobs and insuring that you’ll have work next week.
It sounds simple but, check relevant job posts everyday (it’s easy if you use oDesk’s “Job Alerts” via email). Only apply to jobs that you are qualified for, and value your time appropriately when suggesting a price for your work.
Add a “Hire Me” on oDesk link to your blog , LinkedIn, Facebook, and other networking sites. If you are active and contributing to online communities then your insights may directly correlate to future work. (Note: you must be logged in to oDesk to follow the link above.)
Nourish good working relationships with your existing clients. Your quality of work and communication skills are prime marketing tools when developing good relationships with clients – and repeat business is a powerful resource for a steady income.
The key to a steady income is working steadily. If you can chip away at your current workload, market yourself effectively, and continue your professional development, then you’ll be on your way to developing a healthy freelance operation, and hopefully a steady income.