Freelancers: 5 Tips For Managing Your Sales Pipeline and Getting More Done Allie Wolff The most talked-about benefit of freelancing is the joy of being your own boss. The thing that doesn’t get discussed? The “feast or famine” lifestyle that either keeps you running on a hamster wheel to meet deadlines, or biting your nails to find new clients during dry spells. We understand. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips on how to keep new customers coming in the door while effectively serving your current clients and keeping everyone happy. Before you implement these tips, remember — you’re an expert with a specific skill set, but you’re also a business owner. That means you’ll need to commit time every week to your sales and marketing, regardless of how busy the daily grind is. 1. Work with the best online platforms to match with clients. As Entrepreneur magazine notes, more and more people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle and working remotely from all corners of the world. You may be one of these nomads yourself. What this means is that the amount of websites and platforms dedicated to connecting clients to freelancers has grown over time as well. Entrepreneur recommends a list ranging from Upwork (which embraces beginners) to sites like Toptal, which screen for only the most seasoned and experienced freelancers. 2. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Do you have a hard time turning down projects? Many freelancers do. The reality is, however, that not every project is worth your time and effort. When you take on projects that aren’t a good fit for your skills, or that will take more time than you have in your day, you can actually hurt your business. You may be wary of turning down a paying gig or disappointing a client, but remember that they will be that much more disappointed by work that isn’t up to your usual standards, or isn’t completed on time. Develop a list of questions to ask yourself about a job before you take it. We suggest: “Do I have the skills to complete this successfully?” “How long do I think this project will take?” “Do I have the time to complete this project by the deadline?” These questions can help you make a decision that will keep both you and your clients happy. Remember, you can’t say yes to the perfect job if you keep accepting projects that sap your time and energy. 3. Develop a focus and find your niche. As you develop your freelance business, a focus will allow you to market yourself more successfully and match to clients that best fit your skillset. Trying to be all things to all clients will only make your workflow more complicated and tax your ability to move from project to project. Get rid of that scarcity mindset that tells you there aren’t enough clients out there. There are plenty, and you only need a few of the right ones (not a ton of the wrong ones) to have a thriving business. Regarding your niche, if you aren’t sure where you best fit, do some research and check out articles like this one from Forbes that outline some freelance career fields that you may not have considered. 4. Keep Yourself Organized When you freelance, you’re your own boss. You are also your own human resources representative, bookkeeper and marketer. As you follow this career path, you’ll need to wear a lot of hats. This is why there are an increasing number of tools to help you manage your small business. Need help keeping track of your finances? Check out an accounting tool like Xero, which will allow you to do online bookkeeping and have 24/7 support while running your business. Need to do more to stay in contact with both current and potential clients? Consider a CRM and email marketing tool to keep tabs on your contacts and keep your communications looking professional. Working with multiple members of a client’s business, or need a way to keep your pending, current and finished projects organized? Check out a service that will allow you to keep your workflow organized like Trello or Monday. 5. Take breaks. Finally, remember to breathe. Drink a cup of coffee. Take a walk. Pet the dog. If you find that you’re becoming stressed and strung out by sitting at the computer for hours at a time, think about trying the 30-minute method. As Business Insider reports, working in 30-minute increments is one of the best ways to increase productivity. This approach is sometimes called the Pomodoro Technique, (popularized by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo). The technique recommends 25-minute intervals of pure work, followed by a five-minute break. Cirillo recommends actually setting a timer to keep track of both the work and the break. Get yourself a kitchen timer, set it for 25 minutes and then work intensely and distraction-free. Then when the timer goes off, get up immediately and stretch. Get a drink of water. Step outside. Many find this simple method a huge boost to productivity! We hope that these tips can help you on your entrepreneurial journey. We encourage you to do more research and try many techniques to find what helps you both find the best clients and keep producing great work for all of them. And one final tip. As long as you’re focused on solving your clients’ real problems, you’ll never have trouble keeping your sales pipeline full. Take extra time to implement new tools and update your skill set, and keep your marketing messaging focused on the results you bring your clients. You’re going to crush it!