As a freelancer, you are pretty much your own brand and business. Here are some practical things that I learnt that helps me go a long long long way.
#1. Don´t procrastinate!
It is essential NOT to leave work to the last minute. Plan your time so that you can be responsible and do things as planned. This includes setting realistic goals and to be in communication with your client. This will also allow you to clarify matters so that you can quickly resolve any problems you have in the process of doing the job.
Remember Murphy's Law? The impact of this will be 10 times worse if you procrastinate .
#2. Organize yourself
Use a tool to organize delivery times and priorities. Some tools you can explore are Trello and Basecamp. Use a platform that helps you consolidate all the things you have to do in one place.
Be sure to set delivery times, including time to review the work with clients. For longer projects, it always helps to document the changes clients have requested as well as to review what you need to do on daily basis. This helps you reduce if not remove “forgetful” moments which can be damaging to the relationship and worse of all impact final delivery.
#3. Constantly upgrade your skills
As a freelancer, it is importantly to constantly keep yourself relevant. Do this by learning new skills, reading tutorials, reviewing design websites, improving your know how in using program tools, etc.
All freelance designers must improve and update their knowledge cause if you ain’t doing it, your competition is.
#4. Manage your finances and priorities well
You are your own business. Freelancers have to learn how to manage payment and their own budgets. It is not unusual that in one month you may have a lot of money and in another not so much. Keep track of your your income and expenses, Always save for a rainy day.
As a freelancer, you want to earn as much as possible. However, be mindful of pushing yourself too hard or worst to the point of losing clients. It is better to manage fewer good clients and to develop deep profitable relationship with them then to have many clients who are generally not happy with you or your work.
#5. Have fun!!!!
There is time to work, but also to have fun!
Being a freelancer does not have to be boring and stressful. In fact, as a freelancer, you are in a great position to choose the jobs you must do (can't live on love and fresh air) vs the jobs you want to do.
Moreover, as freelance designers, taking time out to enjoy life, play sports, meet friends and other activities helps you be a better designer as you may be inspired when you least expect it.
If you choose to be a freelance designer, remember that this is part of the life you choose as you get to do what you love, not out of obligation but out of passion. End of the day, this is the reason I choose to be a freelance designer.