How freelancers can prepare for success in Q4 with careful planning, reflection, and outreach.
With a little planning, you could make the last quarter of 2022 your most successful. The fourth quarter includes the holiday season, and your clients will likely take some time off in November and December. Regardless, now is a great time to end the year on a high note and prepare for the future. Here’s 15 tips to prepare for success in Q4.
1. Take the time to record your wins
Listen, it is really easy to reflect on your year and regret every missed opportunity and mistake. You probably don’t even realize how much progress you’ve made! Take five minutes and do this:
- Record your wins. What have you accomplished? Did you start making your grilled cheese sandwiches with mayo? Did you try something new (even if you failed)? Congratulations! You’ve lived, learned, and made shit happen.
- Reflect on what you’re grateful for. I know there’s something! Maybe it’s your dog, the fresh air you breathe, or the professionals you’ve connected with. It doesn’t matter.
- Make a done list. Grab a notepad and write “Done List” at the top. Every time you do something — take a walk, stretch, write an article, send a tweet — jot it down. You’ll be impressed with how much you do, and you’ll realize where your time goes.
- Add to your compliments file. That nice note in your inbox? A nice comment on your Instagram post? Screenshot it and save it in a file. Your compliment file is your digital record of kindness and something that is invaluable on bad days.
2. Tell everyone that you’re available for freelance work
Sit down and make a list of all the people you’ve worked with, known, and would like to work with in the future. Clients are spending the remainder of their budgets and launching year-end projects, and they need your services!
Here’s a template from Contra’s Slack community:
Hi [Client]! Hope you’ve been well since we worked on [project] together!
I wanted to check back in and see if you need any help wrapping up work before the year comes to a close. I have some extra availability for [your service] in [insert months you’re available].
And here’s a different take from me:
Hello! I hope you’re doing well! [Insert personal note here].
I just wanted to let you know that I’m available for new [type of work] projects in this last quarter of 2022. I’m also available for work around this upcoming holiday season!
I’m happy to help you with:
- [Service]. I help with [problem] and have achieved [results].
- [Service]. Need help with [problem]? I offer [service with solution]
I’m happy to chat with you over the phone or Zoom and am ready to hit the ground running!
Please feel free to share my name with individuals in need of a freelancer. A referral is the best compliment you can give me.
3. Consider diversifying your business
I know that there is some service or product you’ve thought about launching but haven’t. Now might be the time to launch a newsletter, create digital products, or offer a new service.
I put off making a newsletter for the longest time because I was afraid of the work and time commitment. It is a lot of work but it’s been worth it!
Matthew Fenton does a great job of breaking down why you should (or shouldn’t) diversify your freelance business. Go give it a read!
4. Optimize your social profiles and share, share, share!
You don’t have to use social media as a freelancer to land work. But it’s a very handy tool that you can use to your advantage. Some of my favorite clients have come from social media!
Update your Twitter account and LinkedIn profile with a little about what you do, your portfolio, and your contact info. Include keywords like “freelance writer” that clients use to search for your services. Create posts to promote your freelance business like:
- Share that you’re open to work! Write a tweet about what you do and pin it to your profile. Write a similar post on LinkedIn and ask people to share it!
- Share why people should hire you. Share a note from a pleased client (look through that compliments folder you just made). Tell people about a goal you achieved.
- Share your latest work! If you have an NDA, share the type of work you’re doing.
By the way, if you feel awkward promoting yourself, that’s normal! But do it anyway.
5. Update (or create) your portfolio and profiles
If you’re looking for new clients, you need to make sure that you’re communicating your worth! Update your portfolio with your best projects. Include the results you achieved and the skills you used.
Writers should also create a profile on Skyword and Contently. Lots of clients look for freelancers directly on those platforms!
6. Invest in tools that make your business more efficient
What are you spending too much time on? Can you automate it? What can you do to make your life easier? I pay for transcribing services so I don’t waste my time on labor I hate. Invest in yourself and your business!
Prepare for Q4 success with careful planning, outreach, and reflection.Tweet
7. Fire bad clients that aren’t meeting your values or expectations
If you have a client that isn’t paying you on time, is going beyond the project scope or is being a pain, it might be time to part ways. Review your current client list, and consider who you want to continue working with.
You may not be able to fire them right now, but you can at least take steps toward replacing them.
8. Take a look at your pricing
Pricing is so difficult, especially when you’re just starting out as an independent worker. Take a look at your pricing. Is the way you charge right now (hourly, per product, etc.) working for you? Are you happy with your current rate?
Every so often, you need to raise your rates. Now is as good a time as any!
9. Audit your source list
Have you been interviewing people from underrepresented backgrounds? Take an inventory of your reported pieces and consider who you’ve included (and who you haven’t). Consider widening your source list with the help of a database or two.
10. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill is often a New Year’s Resolution, but why not get a three-month head start? Leveling up your skillset is how you become more valuable to clients and build a thriving business. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want to learn?
- What new skill sets could allow you to charge higher rates?
- How much can you time and money can you spend on personal development?
You don’t have to put much money into acquiring a new skill. Read (or listen to) a book! Get your library card and take a few classes in person. Use your library card to access LinkedIn Learning or resources on Libby.
11. Stop comparing yourself
It’s very easy to compare yourself to self-proclaimed experts and six-figure freelancers. There will always be someone out there who seems to be more successful than you. But people are quick to share their successes and hesitant to reveal their mistakes. Comparing yourself to the public persona of other freelancers is a losing game.
Instead, think about all the progress you’ve made in your life and business. Remember, what you do is valuable. Your clients hire you for a reason, and you are worth more than your work.
12. Schedule time off and actually take it
Do you want to take a holiday vacation? Are you okay working around Thanksgiving? Many clients will take holiday breaks, but it’s a good idea to communicate your holiday availability with your clients now. Schedule your days off and stick to them. You deserve to spend time with your friends and family or simply recharge at home.
13. Ask for testimonials
I like to do this at the end of the year, but if you’re wrapping up a project or have time, now is a great time to ask for a testimonial. Clients are often happy to write a short testimonial for you to use on your website, social media, or marketing. Asking for this feedback is also a great way to reflect on your successes so far this year.
14. Review your finances
This is the least sexy item on this list but arguably one of the most important. Track your income and expenses. Keep a full record of all the work you have coming in. Answer these questions:
- How much money did you make last quarter?
- How much money do you need to earn to stay afloat, or hit your financial goals?
- How are you spending your money?
- Are you spending too much money on something? Can you cancel a subscription or negotiate a lower rate?
- Can you put more in savings?
15. Review your tax deductions
As a self-employed person, you get to take deductions on your home office, equipment, books, office supplies, travel costs, memberships, and software programs. Don’t put off this headache! As you review your finances, look for anything that could count as a deduction.
You still have time to squeeze in another write-off expense this year if you want.
Do you have a tip you’d like to recommend? Comment below, or tweet at me.
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Photo credit: Styled Stock Society