Even as recently as the 1990s, the word “freelancer” conjured up (usually wrong) ideas of a lazy, bouncing from paycheck to paycheck dreamers. They were either too lethargic, too unqualified, or too idealistic to “sell out” and join an established company. But now, the advent and unrelenting progress of the internet has led to this once mocked job type becoming more understood, more commonplace, and much less maligned.
And the career prospects of a freelancer working in industries directly tied to the internet are constantly improving. Being an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) freelancer makes a lot of sense – as you are not tied to any one parent company, you can say that your work has no ulterior motives. You aren’t out to use your clients to improve some overarching marketing company that you work for; you are simply there to improve their websites.
However, this type of working environment can breed procrastination. A little bit here and there probably isn’t going to be the end of the world, but any more than that and you run the risk of losing clients due to missed deadlines. With only your reputation to go on, that is something you can’t afford. So here are a few tips we’ve compiled that will hopefully help you out.
Hopefully, you’ll have more than one client that you work with, otherwise our first tip might be “Get more clients”! You might think that being freed from the stresses of commuting, office politics and chains of command, you would have zero problem staying on top of all of your projects. But it’s very easy if you have multiple things going on to have something fall by the wayside.
To counter this problem, we suggest utilizing an organization system. You may want to go old school, and work with post-it notes or whiteboards, but since you are likely to be online all day anyway, it may be a better idea to utilize a computer based program. We suggest Trello, a free to use organization tool that allows you to set up individual “boards” for individual clients, and then make “cards” within those boards that represent tasks or projects, big or small, relating to that client.
It doesn’t take experience to know the “dangers” of working from home. You are in a place you may have considered your place of respite from work for your entire life, and are now expected to work from there. Staying productive it paramount, and there are many things you can do to achieve productivity when working from home, but we’d like to preach one specific tip to SEO freelancers, that varies slightly from the normal thinking on the subject – keep tabs on social media.
We’re not talking about keeping an eye on your own personal social media accounts, but those of your clients, as well as any account that could provide you with helpful information. Your client accounts should be being utilized to improve SEO, through link sharing and interaction with their followers. And many SEO based companies, such as MOZ, often post useful videos and articles throughout the day, which could help improve your business even further.
The “working from home” title can be a little misleading. You won’t necessarily be working from your house – you could be in a cafe, in the park, or even out and about around town, and still be “working”. This is a real advantage freelance work has over office work, but it can come at a price. The opportunity for distractions to arise is increased dramatically, and you have to take steps to minimize the impact.
The first thing we would suggest, if you budget allows for it, would be to buy a smartphone that you dedicate solely to SEO work. You have a separate one for personal matters, so you can while away the battery on that phone looking at Facebook or watching videos, while your other phone stays charged up to tackle anything work-related that arises.
We would then suggest utilizing a program or app that keeps you connected to your work 24/7. As we mentioned it before, we can mention Trello again as a solution, as they also have an app version of their service, so everything you love about the browser version is right there at your fingertips when you are away from your base of operations.
This is a critical part of any freelancers day – timely communication between you and your clients. The aforementioned stigma of “lazy work-from-home types” still exists for some, so you will want to show your clients that you are in fact working hard for them. It’s also important to maintain relationships with other freelancers. They may sometimes be your competition, but you’ll find there is a real sense of “we’re all in the same boat” when it comes to online freelance communities. The phrase “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is a very apt way to describe the benefits maintaining these relationships provides.
One route to explore is Insightly, which is equal parts contacts book, and equal parts messenger system. Once you link an email account to the service, you can start to compile a huge, online database of all of your contacts. Which companies they work for, the emails you have exchanged, even which projects that you are working on they are linked to – all available in this free-to-use tool.
Above all else, it is beyond vital to stay on point. If you are currently a freelancer, and want to remain that way, then you cannot afford to slack off. You have a somewhat privileged position – if you cherish it, and dread going to work for a company, procrastination is your arch-enemy. There are many steps you can take to avoid it, but the best way is to find your own personal motivation. Be it the desire to work for yourself, the fear of working for a corporation, or whatever else it may be, find why you want to remain a SEO Freelancer, and use that reason to push you forward.