Working from anywhere: Never miss a freelance deadline
As a freelancer – whether you’re a writer, a graphic artist, a web designer, or even a proofreader/editor, your customers will expect you to get your work done by the promised deadline. And you must – your reputation depends on it.
That said, my advice is to set long deadlines, then get to work just as quickly as you can.
For most of my small jobs – those that will take less than a full day – I ask for a 3-week deadline. I do tell my customers that I will get it done sooner if possible, and I do.
Why 3 weeks? For one thing, it’s not usually possible to begin immediately. I generally have other work promised ahead of any new customer. Unless it’s an old, established client with an “emergency” need, my rule is first come, first served.
Secondly, when you work from anywhere, you can’t anticipate what kinds of interruptions will intrude into your work time. If you’re working at home and the furnace quits working or the washer overflows, you do have to stop and deal with it. It’s also pretty tough to focus on work if a child or spouse comes down with the flu or your in-laws decide to make an unannounced visit.
Third, almost everything takes longer than you expect, especially when you’re first starting out. I don’t know about other providers, but I know that as a writer you can sometimes get “stuck.” The words just don’t want to cooperate and the only cures are to get help from another writer or to walk away for a day. Allow time for that, because it will happen.
Lastly, I think you can do a better job if you give your subconscious time to work on a project.
For instance, when I write an agent bio, I have the client fill out a questionnaire, then supply me with copies of brochures, articles, and testimonials. I also ask for links to social media accounts, so I can see what the agent had to say about themselves.
The first day, I read all those things and just think about the agent – who they are, what they do, and what’s most important for their prospective clients to know about them. The second day I’ll start to write. The third day I’ll come back and edit what I wrote. Sometimes I scrap it and start over again.
The actual writing time might only be 3 or 4 hours, but the thinking time might be 2 or 3 days.
Meanwhile, when I ask for 3 weeks and deliver in 10 days, my clients are happy.
Don’t ever push your deadlines…
Try to calculate how long a project will take, plus how many days before you’ll be free to begin. Then at least double that time before setting a deadline. If you can triple it, all the better.
Once you’ve set that deadline, get to work as quickly as you can. Don’t wait!
I had a friend – a fellow real estate copywriter – who took on large projects and then waited until 2 or 3 days before the deadline to begin. She drove herself crazy with it – and lost a lot of sleep. She’d often stay up all night working and then become physically ill when it was finished.
And yes – now and then she’d have to beg forgiveness from a client because she simply couldn’t finish in time. And also yes – she started losing work as a result.
People want to know they can depend on you, so as you start your freelance career, make a promise to yourself: “I will never, ever miss a deadline.” Then keep that promise.
Marte Cliff is a freelance real estate copywriter. You can visit her at www.copybymarte.com.
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Time Flies courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDititalPhotos.net