Published on Jan-17-2023
Freelance work can be stressful, however if you have realistic expectations it will become less stressful and more rewarding. Remember as a freelancer you have the freedom to control what assignments you take and when you decide to take them. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility. Whether or not you meet your project deadlines as a freelancer, becomes your responsibility and yours alone.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The first step to choosing a deadline is to determine what you need from your client in order for you to complete your freelance project. The clock doesn’t even begin until you get everything you require from your client first. For example, if you need images and content copy from your client and it will take you two weeks to complete the website. The two weeks don’t start until you get the images and content copy first from the client. If your client wants to change his mind in the middle of your building the website; how this is handle must be addressed in your original contract between you and your client. Whether that is an extension of time, a set number of revisions, or more money to compensate you for your troubles; all of these scenarios must be addressed in your contract. Having a signed contract and sticking to it will help keep your freelance projects moving on schedule. It is important to remind clients about deadlines and reiterate why they are important for both you and your client. No surprises for you or your clients makes for a smooth and enjoyable experience.
After knowing what you need from your client; you need to know what is required from you as the freelancer to complete this project and how long it will take you. One reason freelancers are suppose to get paid more money than their employee counterparts is because freelancers are business owners and have to account for expenses that employees don’t need to be concerned about. For example, tools of the trade (e.g. equipment), marketing expenses, PTO (paid time off) expenses, insurance expenses, and retirement expenses. How many projects you need to complete in a year will give you an idea of how long each project should take you to complete in order for you to meet your annual goals. This includes making sure all of your business expenses are covered as well. For example, if your project deadline is interrupted by a client changing their mind this will help you to determine how much financial compensation you require to keep your annual goals on track and on schedule.
Take a lesson from Scotty on the original Star Trek series and always give yourself more time than you actually need baked into your project deadlines. When Captain Kirk asks Scotty how long? Scotty gives one time estimate. Captain Kirk says do it faster and Scotty finds a way to get it done faster making the Captain happy and making himself look like a miracle worker. For example if you need 10 days to complete your project, tell your client 12 days. Why? Anything can happen and as a freelancer you need to be prepared for the unexpected. You might experience bad weather and loose your precious internet for a few days. You might get sick and can’t get out of bed for a day or two. You might win Superbowl tickets and want to take a few days off work. You might have a death in the family. Your client might want an unexpected revision outside the scope of the project and it will take two days to complete. You get the idea. Don’t think you are immune to the unexpected happening, because you’re not! Be like Scotty. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Give yourself extra time for the unexpected to occur.
Remember as a freelancer you are a business owner and the buck stops with you. Like retired Navy Seal Jocko Willink said, you must take “Extreme Ownership”. As a freelancer you must own everything in your world. You are your own leader and are responsible for your failures and the failures of those under you (including making sure your clients meet agreed upon deadlines). As a freelancer no one else is to blame for your shortcomings; no excuses. Results matter.
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