8 ways to increase your productivity so you can take on more clients
The fastest way to earn more money as a freelancer is taking on another client, but that’s not always easy if you have a full plate. But the more you increase your productivity, the more clients you’ll be able to take on without burning out (to a point). In this guide, we’re detailing eight tips on how you can increase your productivity so you can take on more clients as a freelancer.
1 - Reduce duplicate work
Freelancers often have to repeat the same information to multiple clients or create client-facing versions of internal documentation. Here’s how you can reduce that duplicate work:
1 - Leverage technology: Look for tools that have multiple, shareable views such as Google Drive or Airtable. Instead of retyping or copy-pasting information, you can just share the link.
2 - Create templates: Any communication you perform on a regular basis can be templatized: introduction emails, proposal structures, asks for referrals, client onboarding emails, and feedback requests.
2 - Get ready for productivity every day
Here are three strategies to help you remove little distractions throughout your day:
1 - Set daily priorities: Each day, write out the things you must accomplish. Focus on those tasks first before doing anything else.
2 - Organize your tasks: It can be easy to forget things or feel swamped with what's on your plate. Luckily for you, there are project management tools that can help you keep track of all the projects and tasks you have on the go. Compare solutions like Trello vs. Asana to see which one's the right fit for you.
3 - The pomodoro method: Work in mini-sprints of 15-45 minutes. Take a 5-10 minute break. Repeat.
4 - Tie in rewards to productivity: Treat yourself with something (like 10 min of Twitter scrolling) after accomplishing a specific outcome. Be careful though: don’t make rest and recuperation a “reward.” You need (and deserve) rest.
3 - Automate what you can
As a freelancer, you’re responsible for all tasks in your business. However, you don’t have to perform every step manually. For example, one study found the most common mistake freelancers make is sending late invoices. Following up on late invoices is the third biggest mistake. These kinds of tasks can—and should—be automated.
Here are a few tasks you can either fully- or semi-automate:
- Look for a high quality invoicing and payments platform where you can schedule invoice sending and reminders.
- Schedule social media posts with Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Set up automatic bill pay for known expenses.
- Schedule emails with apps like Boomerang.
- Schedule meetings with Calendly or Hubspot.
Simple automations like these can remove most of the time required to complete a task, instantly giving you more productivity.
4 - Outsource work
If you can’t automate a task, try outsourcing. Virtual assistants or other freelancers can easily (and quickly) take on tasks. The general outsourcing formula is to think about the value you can create with the time you save. For example: if you pay a virtual assistant $50 per hour for five hours of administrative work, you’ve spent $250 on tasks that technically don’t produce any income. However, think about what you can do with your newfound time: If doing five hours of paid work for clients makes you more than $250, then paying a virtual assistant is likely worth it.
5 - Charge clients for (additional) meetings
Scope your projects to include a certain number of meetings—the minimum necessary to get the job done. Beyond that, charge an hourly rate for additional meetings. If you notice that a client is pushing for significantly more meetings, remind them what you are scoped to do or deliver. However, if they need you regularly, you will have to charge an hourly rate. You’ll either make more money or those meetings will magically disappear from your calendar. Either way, you win.
6 - Productize your work
“Productizing” means taking a custom service and distilling it into a repeatable process. For example, writing a blog. Instead of a kickoff call, choosing the structure on a per-blog basis, and interviewing someone over the phone, turn it into a process:
- Custom kickoff call → a standard questionnaire / form.
- Choosing the structure per blog → include a question about structure in the questionnaire OR only offer one type of blog post.
- Interview → questionnaire / form.
This process removes all the extra time and energy from getting necessary inputs so you can deliver. As you do this more, you’ll likely find additional efficiencies so you can refine your process, making you even more productive.
7 - Reduce your offerings
Consider cutting out any offerings that you don’t like, aren’t good at, or that take a lot of time compared to how much you can charge.
Two things to note about reducing your offerings:
- You can still do multiple things: Just focus on one skill set (e.g. writing blogs, research papers, and landing page copy versus writing blogs, managing social media, and doing UX design).
- Don’t cut your lead generation: You may have an “unproductive” offering that brings in a lot of clients. In that case, make sure you have a way to continue securing those clients before you cut the offering.
8 - Fire unprofitable clients
Do a calculation of the revenue per hour you spend with a client—the emails, calls, meetings, and actually doing the work. You might notice that some clients are worth far less on a revenue-per-hour basis. Dropping these clients will free up time to focus on finding more profitable work.
If you’re thinking of firing a client, always be gracious. Finish any contractual obligations you have and be kind when you say you can’t take on more work. Don’t ever mock, insult, or be rude - it’s never worth it.
Productivity is about building systems
The best way to get more done is to build systems that let you focus on important work. That means a mix of removing distractions, outsourcing or automating non-value add work, and taking care of yourself. But if you do that right, you’ll be able to take on more clients and increase your revenue—all without having to work additional hours.