Snapshot of a Freelancer’s Daily Life

Written by Tammy Durden

I was asked recently about what my daily life was like as a freelancer. So, I wanted to share what my daily life looked like. Yes, a business coach is still a sort of freelancer but are not referred to that as much. So, I’m going to share a snapshot of a freelancer’s daily life. This is of course what my freelancer’s daily life looks like, yours may be different.

I want to split the day into categories that my day was normally split into. It does not mean every day was like this because as a freelancer we have a lot of flexibility to change things around. This, however, helped me to focus and have better productivity.

  1. Start with Good Habits
  2. Focused Client Work
  3. Managing My Team
  4. Promoting The Company
  5. Continuing Education
  6. Tools Utilized
  7. No Phone Calls
  8. Wrapping Up The Day

I learned long ago in my freelancing business that I had to start the day off right or would flounder all day long. Meaning I would feel like I was always chasing the day if I did not start right.

What did that mean for me? Here are the three areas I focused on at the very start of my day.

I started the day off with my morning cup of coffee and devotional or bible study. As you know (if you read my articles) I am a Christian and put my faith first in all things. So, as I begin my day, I hunker down with my coffee, and my Bible along with my devotional or study. This could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes each day. Of course, this included prayer as well so some days it could be as much as 2 hours, although most days averaged between 30-45 minutes.

The next thing on my list was always my email inbox. As much as possible it also meant that I answered all that I could, filed as many away in folders, and the others that I needed to circle back to later I either put in the urgent folder or left in my inbox to handle later (especially if I needed to gather other information).

I thought it might be helpful to know how I create folders within my email program. Gmail is the program I use but you can also use Outlook if you prefer. I always create a folder labeled “Clients”. I do not want to just throw everyone in one folder therefore I also have subfolders for each client under the clients folder.

An example may be Client A and Client B. If I had emails from these clients I would file Client A in the subfolder labeled Client A which is within the main Clients folder. The same would be true for Client B except that they would have a subfolder called Client B under the main folder labeled “Clients”. [see example workflow below to help]

Next on my morning habits is checking my social media. I do not recommend checking all of your social media platforms but rather focus on one or two platforms that you have time to be active on. You could spend your entire day on social media if you do not focus on just one or two.

During this time I respond to comments, answer private or direct messages, and comment on others’ posts also. I may also share a post of someone I follow but who is not a competitor. I highly recommend as you become busier to hire someone or a company to help you do this if it is not something you enjoy.

Those were and still are my morning habits before I dig into my client work for the day.

Next, I would dig into focused client work. This could last hours or under one hour for that day depending on the type of client and the work I was doing for them.

As you know I started by doing lead generation, virtual assistant work, and virtual bookkeeping. So during the day, I spent much time on the phone calling other businesses to set up appointments for my insurance agent clients.

Most of the time, however, I would split the week into tasks for clients. This may mean that on Monday I would call potential leads for Clients A and B and make appointments. On Tuesday and Thursday, I would do virtual assistant tasks for my other clients. Then on Wednesday, I would do bookkeeping for Clients C and D. I tried to keep Fridays clear as my husband was off on that day.

I highly suggest splitting up your work weekly either by client or by type of task. Still today, I split up my writing. I start my articles on Monday by copying what I have in my content calendar (title and 5-7 points) into my new blog. If I’m inspired at that time I may write some on the different bullet points. Tuesday I come back in and write the majority of the article. Then on Wednesday, I’m finalizing it and adding the SEO terms, metadata, and the picture while setting it to go live on Thursday. These are not the only things I do each day this is simply demonstrating how I split up my writing today.

When I transitioned to a boutique digital marketing agency with a team my day was different. I would still begin with the same morning habits. My work day then consisted of a mix of client work and managing the team until I transitioned all client work over to my team members. So, let’s discuss managing a team next.

As I discuss a freelancer’s daily life I need to include my team management as well. Once I had a team to manage my day was a bit different. Initially, I continued to do client work like social media management, SEO blogging, and email marketing. As I developed a team over time I handed off more and more direct client work to them.

My goal with a team was that I would no longer do any direct client work except monthly strategy meetings with all clients. That kept me as the face of the company plus connected us still even though they communicated directly with a team member on a daily or weekly basis.

This did not mean I no longer had to work, quite the contrary. I still had to manage the team, network with others, promote our company, as well as, meet with all potential clients.

Team management included reading over every single email between clients and my team (as I was copied on every one of them per my request). In the beginning, I reviewed them all and responded with input if needed. As the team grew I had team members who had been with me for some time and I trust well so I no longer needed to review all of their emails. I only reviewed those team members if there was an issue where I needed to be involved.

There were times when clients may not understand what a team member was trying to convey or the client did not understand why something had not happened. In these instances, I always stepped in to help. Often it was a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding. Our company requested clients to notify us of all client’s upcoming events, publications, and other client events to be given to us (with all corresponding graphics, links, etc.) by the 15th of every month the month before the launch or event. Sometimes, however, a client had something unexpected and wanted it released right away. The team member, if available, would comply when able but that was not always the case if they were not able. This could cause some friction and needed my soothing and nurturing again.

During the last three to four years I split the team into departments. This meant that I had people who did social media management, team members who wrote blogs, and other members who handled clients’ email marketing. This was a very efficient way to handle each of these services. It was especially helpful if I needed to meet about one particular area and could meet with that team alone and not involve everyone. Industries for digital marketing areas are always changing and we were able to keep up with it all.

Another large part of managing a team includes using a project management (PM) system. In the PM system, I could add my client’s intake form, any notes on the project or tasks we would be responsible for with the client as well as add their logo and photos if needed.

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(month to month and you can stop whenever you want)

I spent a big part of my freelancing life, especially in the beginning, looking for good information and trying to educate myself further. I had plenty of skills to be able to help clients but I did not know how to reach them. Therefore I spent hours and hours trying to figure this out when I first began.

I read Foundr, Entrepreneur, and other online business magazines to help me figure out the best strategies and learn more about my marketplace. Approximately 4 years into my business journey, however, I found Freelance University (it was called VA Classroom back then). This was exactly what I needed to advance in the industry.

I took a course on social media management, which I was doing at the time, but this gave me a certificate to display on my website. Clients like to see that you are keeping up with the industry in your niche. Craig Cannings, the co-owner, is fantastic about peppering in marketing tips in almost all of teaching.

I later went on to become a Mentor in their freelancer community and even taught courses and workshops for them. Freelance University offers some of the most comprehensive courses and workshops around for freelancers. The best part is that they include all of their courses in one monthly fee (or you can pay yearly). So, you can train in many areas or transition to another niche if you desire. They also offer practical workshops to help you with pressing issues. Their community is another winning source for them as you can ask anything and it is a safe environment and you will receive expert advice to help you. One thing they do remarkably well is help you with marketing.

A big part of any freelancer’s business life is promoting their own company. This was true of mine as well. When I became a freelancer I had no idea what marketing truly was at that time. I did not know how to promote myself, my skills, or reach my ideal client base.

I had to learn how to do this mostly through trial and error. Today there are so many people out there telling others how to do it. There is one big rule in promoting your business and that is Consistency! Be consistent in producing content to share.

I suggest splitting up your week for the days you will write content and then you can schedule it all so that it shows up daily in your feed.

Side Note About Facebook and LinkedIn: I was fortunate when I began nearly 16 years ago that Facebook was still fairly new to business owners. I was able to post about business and get in front of many people organically at that time. LinkedIn was very new and the groups were great then, so I was able to get wonderful engagement there as well. This helped me land some clients in the beginning. It is a very different landscape today. Today, Facebook’s move to help freelancers and small businesses by allowing them to create a “professional profile” rather than their “standard profile” has helped many increase engagement.

The next two sections are not on my daily schedule but are necessary to discuss nonetheless.

I would be remiss if I did not also discuss the tools of the trade in a freelancer’s daily life. There are many tools you can learn to use, I certainly had to at the time. There are so many today, however, you could spend a lifetime learning them and never finish. So, let’s start with these.

  1. Email Program – this is your main email program, not your email marketing. Most use either Gmail or Outlook. I prefer Gmail. You will have to add the code to your website to bring it into one of these programs to use (if you do not know how to get your web designer to add it for you). I do not recommend using others.
  2. Digital Calendar – Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar. Some will use the iPhone calendar. I use Google Calendar and love it because it is very easy to be able to block out times (or calendar blocking).
  3. Project Management (PM Systems) – there are too many of these to list all. I love Wrike and have used it for years. If you sign up for the trial offer you will receive much more than is needed. Once the trial period is finished you will have a free version (without all the bells and whistles) that is perfect. They offer 5 free team members as well as several collaborators. If Wrike does not work for you try Asana, Click Up, or Trello. There are many others. The key to finding the right PM System is finding one that works like you work.
  4. Social Media Scheduler – to schedule out your posts daily so that you do not have to write them every day. I suggest doing a month at a time. Take one day a month to create all of your posts if possible and then use a scheduler. Some of these are Buffer, Hootsuite, and Social Pilot. There are many others. I use Social Pilot.
  5. Email Marketing Program – this is for sending out bulk emails. Do not use your regular inbox emailing system. Utilizing an email marketing program helps you get into more inboxes rather than bounce or not delivered. There are so many of these including MailChimp, MailerLite, Flodesk, and Moosend. I use Moosend and love it. Most now have the option to create a landing page as well.
  6. Graphics and Photos – a necessity for creating good content today. The most popular for creating your graphics is Canva. It is easy to use and also has photos available for use. I recommend the paid version as it will have better templates and photos for you to use. For other free photos you can use Pexels but there are many, many more.
  7. Professional Phone Number and Listing – I think it is important to have a professional phone number. A lot of freelancers use a free Google number that routes to their phone. After you have a client or two please get a professional phone. I started with one and switched over the last couple of years to Zoom. I already had a service with them for video calls so it made sense and was a little less than I was already paying. Ring is also a very popular phone option but is quite expensive, especially for freelancers when they are starting.
  8. Paper Planner – I like a paper planner as well as my digital calendar. There are too many to mention but my favorite is the Bullet Journal style. My productivity soared when I started using these.
  9. Website – is crucial. If you do not know how to create one in WordPress I highly suggest paying someone to do it for you (it is worth it). As soon as you begin having clients as a freelancer please put a little aside every month to go toward building your website. I know many people who can provide a website for under $1,000 (or less), so it is still reasonable. Potential clients must have a website to visit. It shows that you are not just doing a side gig but you’ve invested in your business and should be taken seriously.
  10. Calendar Scheduler – helps you schedule inquiries for your services. There are a few of these but the biggest two are Acuity and Calendly. Calendly offers one free appointment option then you will have to pay if you need others. Rather than back and forth in emails or messages, you can send a link for them to schedule a call or video with you.

I should also mention something I began as a freelancer much later and wished I had learned it earlier. How I handled incoming phone calls during the day changed. I do not take phone calls any longer {Yikes! I know, right?} Hold on, don’t be too shocked here. Someone spoke about this in a webinar (sorry I do not remember who) I attended and when I implemented it I was shocked that it changed my entire day! I no longer answered any incoming calls during the day unless I was expecting the call and it was set up in advance.

There are, of course, exceptions to this for those of you who have clients that need daily interaction perhaps, or for those of you who allow urgent requests (I highly suggest against this by the way). All others should be able to ignore your phone line. Let’s face it more than half (most of mine now) are sales calls that we don’t want to take anyway. The other half are tire kickers who do not want to pay you your value. When I no longer accepted incoming calls it gave me back the power in my day. I’m not kidding you it changed my productivity and my entire day. It gave me freedom. I was not attached to the phone and all the interruptions that go with it.

You know what I mean. You are focused on a task and nearly complete and then the phone rings. If you answer it you never get back the last thought you had to complete the task. You complete it just the same but it takes you twice as long to finish it out. By not picking up your phone every time it rings you will save a tremendous amount of time, or at least I did.

This is with the understanding that when you do this (not answering incoming calls) you have already notified your clients that you do not accept unexpected calls. This also encourages them to set an appointment to discuss anything needed rather than pick up the phone anytime something is on their mind. Try it and let me know if it frees your day up.

Finally, let’s discuss wrapping up your day. As Freelancers, we work the hours we want to work. This may mean you start your day after the kids are in bed. For others, you start extremely early in the morning. Others yet, may work what we consider normal business hours. I love the freedom we have in setting our hours.

No matter what your ending time is (and that can be different on different days) you have to wind down and close things up. This means closing all open tabs and powering down your computer or laptop. Finalizing any notes you need for the next day or days ahead. Clearing off your desk so you have a clean workspace the next day (do as I say, not as I do <smiling>). And the last thing I suggest you do is to look at your calendar(s) for the next day. This helps you know what time you need to be ready and start the next day as well as any meetings, doctor appointments, or other work you have scheduled for tomorrow.

I’m sure this seems like common sense but since we are talking about a freelancer’s daily work I wanted to include it.

If you have any questions about this topic or others that I can help with please book a call with me, I’d love to talk with you.

Until Next Time, To Your Continued Success!

with love from Tammy Durden of Fearless Business Boss

I am a Business Coach and I support online women service providers and agencies

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