Know that feeling when your orders start piling up and the “you’ve got 12 hours left” notifications start pouring in while you’re desperate for some sleep?
If you’re a somewhat successful seller, I’m sure you have. We all have.
Success can be a two-edged sword because dealing with strict deadlines while trying to get some work done and answering your buyers questions can be a bit of a drag, to be honest.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s great having lots of orders in the queue, but those unorganized moments when everything seems to come crashing down upon you can be stressful.
I’m not gonna claim to be the most organized dude around.
In fact, I’m rather disorganized by nature. My apartment looks like a mess most of the time; my hair looks like I’ve been through two thunderstorms and a nuclear blast, and my work schedule…
Well. It’s gotten better. What I’ve learned along the way is precisely what I want to share with you in this guide on staying organized while freelancing on Fiverr – or any other platform for that matter – but since I’m very partial to Fiverr, I’ll stick with it.
Get a routine
Try splitting your day into parts. It can help to compartmentalize (divide into discrete sections or categories).
Have a morning, afternoon and evening routine, and stick to it. I’m a night-owl, so my routine is more like an afternoon, evening and night-routine, but you get the idea.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you set aside enough time for what matters. One of the best parts of being a freelancer is that you can organize your own time.
Try to identify when you are at your most effective. For me, that’s late at night. I’m writing this post at 3 am. It’s is my “writing time”.
It’s when I do translations, writing gigs, and journalism. I’m a full-time journalist and editor-in-chief of a local newspaper that I also own, operate, design and write for.
That newspaper needs to be updated, so the news is fresh every morning. So I do that, too, at night.
My afternoon is set aside for voice-overs. That’s my other passion in life. Sitting in a closed booth in my boxers while smiling to myself because the client has no idea and would probably freak out if they knew the work life of voice-over talent. Ah – the little things, right?!
My afternoon is when I get out of bed. I feel sorry for myself for about 30 minutes before I brew my coffee, eat breakfast, brew another coffee, and then go for a walk. Since my workday is way more organized than my apartment, I don’t do much around the house. Thank God for my housekeeper.
Sort out your priorities
Make a list! Actually, Fiverr does this for you right in your dashboard so that you can keep track of your orders and what needs to be done in what order right there. I just wish it was a way of dragging and dropping the orders in the order I want to do them. That would be neat. Developers? Pretty please?
Don’t forget to put some me-time on your priority list! Watching a movie, gaming, go for a walk or beg the wife (or husband) for a massage. All work and no play makes smashradio a dull boy.
Actually, I love that word. Pruh · kra · stuh · neit. It makes being late sound beautiful. However, your deadlines should be important to you – even the self-imposed ones. Just make sure to set up realistic deadlines and always under-promise and over-deliver.
If you want to look like a hero, never promise to deliver the project that will take you 24 hours in 24 hours. Say it will take 48 hours. That way, when you deliver in 24 hours, you’ll look great. Wait. I’m off-topic now. I’m procrastinating because I’m good at that.
The fact is – you should force some strict deadlines onto yourself, even if you don’t let the client know about it. Make sure to follow up on your “internal deadlines”. If you put something off for too long, it’s gonna stress you out.
End-of-day meeting (with yourself)
But… I became a freelancer, so I don’t have to do so many meetings!
That’s ok. Just sitting down with a coffee after a busy day to go through what you’ve accomplished during the day and what tomorrow is gonna look like, helps you identify problems, mistakes and plan ahead. I plan ahead – that way, I don’t have to do anything right now.
This might be one of the more difficult things to get good at. Some freelancers don’t work enough and get stressed out because of it. Others work too much, and end up getting burnt out. You don’t want any of these.
It doesn’t matter if you work from home, a local café, or a shared office; you need to make space between you and your work.
Unless there’s some hugely important client who needs something done right now (most clients will claim to need something right now, but in fact they don’t. They want it right now. That doesn’t mean they are gonna get it right now if it’s past my working hours.
Make sure to take some time to yourself. Get offline, turn off your cell, go outside, get some air. When the clock hits 4 am, I’m off. My emergency phone is for a few lucky clients, and if that rings, I know it’s not for less than 500 bucks or because of some paramount reason.
This is important not only in order for your clients to understand that there’s such a thing as life away from work, even for a freelancer, but because your health dictates it. You can’t reinvigorate yourself if you’re constantly working.
Organize your stuff
This is one of those advice that I’m more than happy to give but not so happy to follow. I should. But I don’t. You should, though!
Keep a system for all your documents, e-mails, files, and projects. Even I have to organize my stuff sometimes, and I use Google Gsuite to do it. I’ve got an Enterprise account with them, so I have unlimited storage in the cloud.
I also use them for e-mail, and that way I can have one account for each “job” I do as a freelancer. Since any e-mail related to my newspaper won’t show up in my inbox for voice-overs and so on, that takes care of the organization.
Notetaking is done in Google Keep, but your favorite app should do. Just as long as it makes sense to you.
The only place I keep clean and decluttered…
…Is my office. I work here. Day out and day in. I can’t think properly with four cans of Red Bull and yesterdays plate with tacos right next to me.
Every single night, before I go to bed, I declutter and clean my workspace. This includes my digital workspace, meaning I’ll get rid of anything in the downloads folder I don’t need, close my browser tabs, and sort out any remaining uploads and deliveries.
Tomorrow, when I sit down, my desktop (both my virtual and actual desktop) is nice and neat.
Make sure your workspace has enough natural lighting if you’re into that sort of thing, or use smart bulbs to create proper lighting. When you’re like me, you need that, so I’ve set my bulbs to simulate sunrise at 3 pm. I’m hopeless – I know.
Have a system for your finances
Separate your private and freelance economy. Track your income (use an app like And.Co from Fiverr!) and make sure you track your taxes, invoicing and whatever else you might have to deal with.
What I earn as a freelancer goes into my “company account” (I have three, one for writing, one for my newspaper, and one for voice-overs). I use Revolut for all my finances, except for a few things that require local accounts.
This helps me create different “pockets” for each, so I know what I’m earning, where the money is going, and what I have to live on.
Don’t forget to set aside money for your pension and your rainy-day-fund. If you don’t have one, get one. It saved my ass on more than one occasion.
Don’t commit to something you can’t handle
This is pretty obvious, but without realistic expectations, it can be difficult to know in advance. Understand how much you can handle in a day, and never take on more jobs than you know for sure you can handle while sticking to your routine.
It can be tempting to take on lower-paying jobs if you really need the money or taking on just that one extra gig, but you might regret it. Your number one goal (besides being happy!) should be to deliver top-of-the-line work, every time. If you don’t, you’re risking your career.
Nurture your good clients, fire the bad ones
I’ve written about this before; it’s ok to fire the client. Prioritize the clients and gigs that makes you happy, doing what you love, with the buyers you like.
Being a freelancer should be about enjoying life and what you do – and if you don’t, working on a contract is better. Freelancing isn’t easy, so at least it should be fun!
Try to nurture your best clients, and your best clients are the ones that are easy to work with and bring you steady work while paying you what you deserve.
Have a plan
Set yourself a goal. You finally get to be your own boss – and part of that is setting goals for your business. Where do you want to be in six months? A year? 5 years? Set goals, and work hard to achieve them.
I mentioned this earlier, too. When you’ve set up your goals, try to create a plan for every week and make sure it’s realistic.
Every week should contain something that helps you on your way to achieving those goals while also being realistic.
Sure, I want to be president of a multi-national voice-over company, preferably today, but that’s not going to happen. But perhaps my goal for this week can be to land one more steady client?
You’re the marketing manager, SEO, CFO, receptionist and designer. The voice-over, the tech-guy, the creative writer… As a freelancer, you’re most likely filling a bunch of different roles at once.
Connecting with a community of freelancers (like this forum) can be a great way to learn new things, talk with people of similar interests, or give your own advice to others. Sharing is caring, and trust me – you’ll need all the help you can get! We all do.
I hope this guide has been useful to you! If not, I wrote all this for nothing. But I had fun doing it, so there are no worries. Hakuna Matata.