6 Gifts to Fuel Freelance Business Success

 

After you’ve given your friends and family gifts during this hustling, bustling holiday season, remember to give the solopreneur business you’ve worked so hard to start and grow a few presents, too. Some thoughtful actions and intentions will help ensure a thriving freelance enterprise in the New Year.

Six Tips for a Successful Solopreneur Business in 2022

1 . Get your tax information ready ahead of time.

While it may seem like you have plenty of time between now and tax-filing time, resist the lure of procrastination. There’s ALWAYS something that either won’t quite match up or requires some digging into to make sure tax forms can be completed and submitted accurately. A few things to pay attention to now to help avoid headaches and last-minute scrambling later: 

  • Review your expenses to make sure you’ve recorded and categorized them consistently. I use Quickbooks Online, which makes it easy to drill down into each expense account to make certain recurring expenses are landing in the correct “buckets.” Even if you’re tracking expenses in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet — or a shoebox under your bed — it’s important to organize your transactions into categories so that it’s easier to keep track of what’s tax-deductible and what is not. 
  • Calculate money received from each client in 2021. Then consider checking in with them to confirm or deny their records match yours. By making sure your accounting lines up with theirs in advance, you may prevent any errors that require them to correct their 1099-NEC form to you. That’s important because mistakes could mean delays that might put you in jeopardy of meeting your tax-filing deadlines. 
  • Keep your financial records well-organized — ALWAYS. Whether or not it’s tax season, keeping bank deposit slips, check registers, credit card statements, shopping receipts, and other financial records organized and accessible will make life easier. If you consider your freelancing work a bona fide business, treat it that way!

2. Assess if you’re charging enough for your services.

Take inventory of the services you perform for your clients and determine if your rates and billing method are adequate for the time/work you’re investing. 

But that’s not all you should think about when evaluating your rates. 

Your business has costs to bear. And yours may be different from those of other solopreneurs. Your expense profile depends on the work you do, the state you live and work in, whether your office is at home or somewhere else, and other factors. 

For example, here are some of the expenses I pay to operate my freelance writing business:

  • SEMrush monthly subscription (SEO keyword and analysis tool)
  • Microsoft Office 365 monthly subscription (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, etc.)
  • QuickBooks Online monthly subscription (accounting software)
  • Yoast Premium annual subscription (WordPress plugin for SEO optimization)
  • Akismet annual subscription (spam detection WordPress plugin)
  • Grammarly annual subscription (online grammar & spelling app)
  • Toggl annual subscription (time-tracking tool)
  • Google Workspace monthly subscription (Google business productivity and collaboration apps)
  • Federal, state, and local income taxes (quarterly estimated taxes, including self-employment taxes)
  • Verizon mobile phone service
  • Web hosting monthly fee via One Sky Media
  • Legalshield monthly subscription (prepaid legal advisory services)
  • IDShield monthly subscription (identity theft protection service)
  • Home office supplies
  • Internet service

Oh, and there are more. So, the next time a client balks at your rates, you might want to share that freelancing isn’t “free money.” You’re running a business — and that business has costs to cover. 

3. Start passing on projects you dislike.

Evaluate if the types of projects you accept are those you enjoy and possess the right skillset for. If you’re taking on work that drains you mentally because it’s overly monotonous, or you feel like a “square peg in a round hole” when tackling it, maybe it’s time to do less of that type of assignment. Of course, if those assignments are paying the bills, you may want to slowly phase them out as you actively seek and secure work that you enjoy rather than cut the cord without a safety net. 

4. Set criteria for the caliber of clientele you are willing to work with.

Not all prospects and clients are created equal.

  • Some understand your value and are willing to pay for it.
  • Some prioritize price over quality and experience. 
  • Some are open to your suggestions and ideas.
  • Some want it done their way regardless of whether their way has notable flaws.
  • Some are responsive in giving you what you need to do your best work for them.
  • Some go radio silent despite the reminders you send about needing information or feedback.
  • Some are organized and give you plenty of notice before an upcoming assignment.
  • Some chronically wait until the last minute to give you assignments and expect you to drop all else to complete them.
  • Some have reasonable expectations of the results your work will deliver.
  • Some want you to deliver the sun, moon, and stars — and they want it all faster than is humanly possible.
  • Some pay your invoices on time.
  • Some let payments lapse past (sometimes VERY far past) due dates.

Make a list of the qualities you want in a client. Then, before saying “yes” to prospects, consider whether they meet your criteria. Also, review if your existing clients have the characteristics you’re looking for. If any are too far removed from the description, it may be time to phase them out of your clientele and find others that match more closely.

5. Invest in tools to make your business more efficient and effective.

Consider tools of the trade that can help you:

  • Deliver quality work.
  • Work more efficiently.
  • Enhance your client experience.
  • Expand your capabilities to allow you to offer more services. 

While many business tools and apps offer “freemium” versions, you may find it well worth your dollars and cents to upgrade to paid subscriptions. Software developers’ “Pro,” “Premium,” and other paid levels of service provide enhanced features that can save time, boost productivity, and augment the ways you serve your clients. 

Several tools and apps that I pay for and find highly valuable to my freelance writing business include Grammarly, SEMrush, and Toggl. 

6. Invest in yourself. 

What new skills and knowledge will elevate your value to clients or grow your business? After identifying them, explore webinars, books, and other training resources available to help you gain expertise and competency in them. Some paid subscriptions to business apps include online courses, webinars, and other educational resources. For example, I have access to all of the training resources in Yoast SEO Academy because I subscribe to the Premium plugin.  

Also, invest in taking care of yourself! You owe it to you — and your clients (the better you feel, the better you can perform professionally). 

Resolve to…

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to refresh your mind and move your body.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Cut back on sugar, caffeine, and alcohol…
  • But don’t beat yourself up if you indulge now and then. 
  • Practice mindfulness more often.
  • Say “no” to requests and people that create excess stress so that you can say “yes” to opportunities and people that bring you joy and contentment.

Set the Scene for Your Solopreneur Success Story

While the economy, COVID, and other world developments lie beyond your control, plenty remains within your influence to advance your freelance business. I’ve shared a few ideas to start you thinking about ways you can take the reins and steer your solopreneur operation on a successful trajectory.

What will you do in 2022 to shape up your freelance business and move it forward? 

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