How to work faster

Prioritise

Particularly for those who are paid by the project or paid by the page, it is important to be able to work quickly as a freelancer in order to make the most profit out of the time that you dedicate to a cause. While quality is important and helps establish your reputation, quantity is what will pay the bills. Here are a few tricks to help you boost your productivity and to work faster.

Make a plan

- a lot of people benefit from having a daily plan, and, especially when you are freelancing, often there are no regulations or rules as to how you should plan out your day. It's very helpful to have set times for work and concrete but reasonable goals to achieve each day. It is also very important to schedule time off, and the beauty of most freelance work is that you are able to plan your own schedules around your social life and your time off. Just make sure you put aside enough time to work and not too much time to socialise. Many people find it helpful to have a very visual aid, and so utilise the calendar on your computer, or make a paper timetable and, most of all, stick to it. You may find it difficult to stick to your self allotted timetable at first, but as you become more accustomed to your work and how long tasks will take, your planning will become more refined and more accurate.

Prioritise

- when making your plan, make sure you realise what work is the most important and ensure that this gets done first. If you let the important work linger, it will loom over your subconscious and stress you out. Like writing down a timetable, sometimes it helps to have a visual aid, and there is definitely a therapeutic feeling every time you cross a task off a list.

Time yourself

- when you are too lenient with your time, or if you leave your allotted time open, you will almost always take more time to complete a task than if you push yourself. Sticking strictly to pre-allocated time slots is a good way to manage your time and to pressure yourself to work faster and produce more. It takes a lot of discipline and motivation to work when you have a whole day to complete something, so allocate the time to start and the time to finish. When you are new to your freelance work, it is also a good idea to time yourself completing tasks so that you have a fair idea of how long they should take in future, and also so you can set yourself goals to try and complete them faster to see an improvement in your workflow over time.

Disconnect

- it is far too easy to switch on Netflix, to look at your phone, to type Facebook into the top of your browser or to watch the television. You have to be disciplined, and make sure you don't get distracted. If you can switch off your phone, do so. If you can find a quiet room without any distractions such as a television, that will probably be your best chance of getting work completed, and whatever you do, don't give in to the temptation to procrastinate on the internet. Make sure you allocate downtime and time for yourself, when you can allow yourself to give in to all of these temptations, as it is important to keep a positive and motivated mindset, and working too much will destroy this, but when it comes to your productive time, stick to being productive, and make sure the two don't bleed together.

Treat yourself

- after you have completed a project, you will likely get paid, but don't let this be your only reward. If you can motivate yourself with small treats, and discipline yourself not to give in and take them before you have finished a task, then even something as simple as a delicious cookie can have a very positive effect on your workflow. Treating yourself for your hard work in small ways but frequently will help you to keep a positive mindset and to stay focussed during arduous tasks.

Going Legal - paying your taxes

legal

In a standard employment, contracts are signed at the start of a working agreement and, generally speaking, your boss takes care of all of the details after that. You tend to receive a pay check which has your tax and national insurance and any other legal fees (depending upon your country of residence or employment) deducted from your earnings, and any miscalculations are found out when the government does its annual review of taxes or when you do your yearly tax returns and any mistakes are reimbursed, one way or another.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome and most daunting tasks with freelance work and self employment is establishing yourself as a legal entity. Taxes and other legal fees have to be paid as per the law of the country of your residence, and this can get very complicated, however, if it doesn't get done, you will be breaking the law, and you risk the chance of having legal action taken against you.

Firstly, do a little research and try to understand the tax requirements of your country of residence. Different countries have different tax brackets, different laws and different processes that you should familiarise yourself with on a local scale so you know what is expected of you before you even begin. This should reduce the risk of receiving a large bill for your entire year of taxes that will completely demolish all of your savings and potentially cause huge problems for you. A good place to start, if you are struggling to figure it out, is by putting aside 30% of your earnings to put towards your tax. The actual amount can be higher or lower, but this is a rough average that should, at the very least, give you a foundation to work upon.

One idea is to work with a tax professional or an accountant. There are many small firms who specialise in supporting freelancers and self employed people, and although this can be very expensive, it can also save you substantially in the long run. These people know how to deal with tax, and they will be able to ensure that you pay the minimum and correct amount, and will do a lot of the hard work for you. They also will be able to understand all the deductions and credits you are entitled to, providing you give them a very clear picture of what your business entails. You should always ensure that you save all of your invoices and payment information from your clients to send off to an accountant if you wish to pay your taxes this way.

If you wish to tackle the arduous task alone, you should always save your invoices regardless incase of any disputes from the tax man, and also to help you fill out all of the information correctly. There should be sufficient information on the official tax websites of the country that you live in to help you understand how to complete your tax payments, how frequently it has to be done, and how it is regulated. Some countries also have a Self employment tax that you will need to be aware of.

If you think you can get away without paying your taxes, you are taking a huge risk. Not only if you get caught will there be fees, but also the accumulated interest on these fees, and it will also be on top of the tax with interest that you owe. It is far better to make sure you file an accurate tax return every year, and if there are huge discrepancies between you and the government, it could simply be some miscalculations from either side, and there are always payment plans available that should make it more approachable to tackle any debt that seems a little out of hand.

It's best just to do things right and properly. Register yourself as a self employed person to your government, set up a plan for your taxes, and make sure you are adhering to the regulations and guidelines set. It is a horrible and time draining task, but it has to be done for your peace of mind and to avoid big problems in the future.

Freelancing skills in demand

photography

Are you looking to move away from conventional office hours to arrange your own schedules, following a career that you are passionate about? If you have any of the following skills, perhaps it is time for you to start looking at freelancing work, as the market is demanding more freelancers in these particular fields.

Languages

- communicating effectively with our fellow humans worldwide is becoming more and more of a necessity as businesses become more international and travel is becoming more and more popular. Some people are looking for private tutors online to help learn or perfect a second language. Other people are looking for translation services, which can be done remotely from your laptop. There are even companies that connect language learners with native speakers, just to practice and refine their skills. If you are strong in your native language and like the idea of teaching it as a second language, particularly English, there is likely opportunities you can take advantage of. If you are fluent in two or more languages, maybe you can chase down some translating or private tutoring opportunities.

Writing

- there is a high demand for online content producers. It doesn't matter what you like to write about, there are likely employers looking for work in every field, and as long as you have excellent grammar, a large vocabulary, and a strong understanding of whatever language you are writing in, with an open mind you will be able to find work. You may have to start off writing about generic subjects set by your employers, but over time, with practice and with experience, you will be able to refine it down to something you are more enthusiastic about. You can use websites such as upwork.com to search for opportunities. There are also opportunities in proof reading, editing and copywriting for those who are more established in the field.

Marketing

- for those who have an excellent grasp at social networking and are good at selling products, there are companies looking for people to utilise these skills to help boost sales. Often payment for work such as this is done on an incentive scheme, and so you have to be really motivated to make a good income, but payment can be really high for those who are particularly successful. When you become more established, marketing director and managerial roles are also possible to work remotely.

Web Development

- do you have a knack for coding? Can you build websites from scratch? There is a huge demand for software savvy individuals as every new company is looking for an online presence but not everybody is computer competent enough to set this up themselves. Work can range from correcting errors on websites, general maintenance of websites, creating websites, coding and application development. As there is such a high demand for this work and not so many people able to deliver services for this, payment can be very high.

Accounting

- for many jobs that have, for years, been conventionally operated from an office, there is a general trend for people to start freelancing. Accounting is one of these, as almost everything can be completed these days through a computer, and so it can be done remotely. You will most likely require some professional qualifications for this, however if you wish to become more flexible with your schedule, it is possible to work as a freelancer and not in the office if you want to be an accountant.

Graphic Design

- it helps massively to have professional qualifications and experience, but graphic designing is a skill for which demand is forever increasing. You should establish yourself with an online portfolio and a strong website that shows your style and achievements if you want to work as a freelance graphic designer. As more companies establish themselves online, it helps them massively to have a strong brand and a strong logo, and if you are able to produce these professionally, pay can be really high.

Photography

- photography is a very popular profession for freelancers, but is very difficult to become established in. You will need to have a good knowledge of photoshopping and editing, you will need a strong portfolio, a passion for your skill and also a unique style to become noticed, as well as all of the equipment you require to create the most professional work possible. This may require investing in an expensive SLR camera and some expensive software, but if you become successful, the benefits and job satisfaction can be very rewarding.

Freelance writing

writing

One of the most popular professions to take on as a freelancer is writing, and with more and more companies relying heavily on internet usage, the need for online content has really boosted this sector in the world of freelancing. A lot of people dream of running a profit making blog, however these can take years to properly establish along with a lot of time and effort, and so often the best way to gain experience, refine your skills and to put your foot in the door is to work as a freelance writer.

Freelance writing comes in many shapes and forms. There is a huge demand for online content producers - for people to write blogs and articles for websites of all different kinds of nature. Often employers will ask for a number of short articles of a minimum of 500 words to publish on a website, sometimes asking for very specific content but also sometimes only providing a very generic theme for you to interpret in your own way. Writing topics can be about anything, but some popular themes are travel, fashion, business, food and music, although this really is just the tip of the iceberg. Payment varies drastically, but freelance writers can expect to make a minimum of $5USD for each article which means, depending on your typing and work speed, you can make roughly $15 - $20 USD per an hour when you are feeling motivated and working well. Payment rises for more experienced writers who can prove that they have an excellent grasp of the language that they are writing in (typically English) both in terms of grammar and vocabulary.

As well as content producers, there are a number of other jobs for enthusiastic writers who are looking to freelance. For those who pride themselves on being particularly strong in grammar and spelling can apply to proof read work. Again, this varies drastically, as some employers might ask you to be proofreading short blog style articles and others may well be asking you to proof read an entire book that they have written. This tends to pay a little better than content producing, but tends to be on a pay-per-project basis agreed with the employer before you start work. It helps to have experience in proof reading if you wish to follow this route, and if you have none it might be a good idea to start of producing content to add to your portfolio that you have very carefully double checked for grammatical and spelling errors to prove that you are competent enough to successfully fulfil your role as a proof reader.

Paying towards the higher end of the scale is copywriting work. This entails developing advertising concepts and requires a high level of creativity and original thinking. To become successful, you have to be able to put a unique and individual spin on briefs to develop your own personal style, all while maintaining your client's values and messages that they wish to portray to a target audience. Often you will have to provide several different proposals for one project and, after the client has chosen one, it is likely you will have to continue editing this before you help to oversee the production phase and checking that all the content produced complies with advertising practice regulations. As this is much more technical, experience is often required, as well as a strong portfolio to provide to potential clients.

There are many more freelance roles for writers to fulfil, and this is just a vague idea of the oceans of diverse and interesting work that out there to discover. Some companies can be approached directly, however most will operate through a website such as upwork.com which allows freelancers to create a profile based on their experiences, education and previous work, and to apply to job postings through the website, although they do take a small cut of the final payment as compensation for their services. Freelance writing is an excellent way to develop your writing skills and technique, and with so many styles, topics, and diverse clients looking for content, it is an excellent opportunity to make some money on the side or to start a freelance career.