6 time management tips for content providers

Blog post insight free resource - 6 time management tips for content providers - MA Technical Copywriting

A career as a freelance copywriter or graphic designer is not for everyone. It is often solitary and you need to have a certain discipline, particularly if you are working from home. For some, it suits their lifestyle well. Others quickly crave getting back into an office environment where they can have some structure in their day and interact with colleagues.

The flexibility myth

There is some truth that working for yourself will give you freedom to organise your life in a way that suits you. But more often, if you can get the work volume you need to freelance full-time, you will have less time flexibility than someone who works regular five-day-a-week business hours.

Yes – you can pop to the shops in the middle of the day or collect the kids from school. But many successful freelancers with full order books work late into the evening or at weekends to meet their deadlines. And if you are working from home, there are plenty of things – legitimately or otherwise – to distract you, so in reality you need to more disciplined than in an office environment.

The key is to organise, organise, organise

If you do opt for the freelance route, being organised to the last detail will make your life much easier – particularly during your busy periods when you have clients coming at you from all sides, which is where you need to be as far as possible.

Here are 6 tips to staying busy and with a clear mind:

1. Know where you are

Before you take on work, make sure you have the capacity to do it if you already have other jobs on. Be clear on your deadlines and schedule them.

If you commit to a deadline, you have to meet it. Even one day late will be inexcusable in the eyes of clients. If, for any reason, you think you will not make a deadline, inform the client well in advance. Although as mentioned this is generally not an option.

Whether you prefer a paper diary or digital calendar, the most important thing is to know where you are and plan your deadline deliveries in advance.

2. Clear clutter

There is nothing more distracting then having a cluttered and disorganised workplace, particularly when managing multiple projects. A tidy, organised desk and work area will clear your mind and help you to think.

There is no room or luxury for a creative block when you have a deadline looming. Organised surroundings will help you see what is in front of you and organise your thoughts.

3. Avoid lists

Long lists with no planning behind them are a recipe for disaster. They can just get longer and longer and too daunting to face with nothing ever being crossed off.  

Wherever possible, live by the principle of ‘do it today – not tomorrow’. Of course, practically speaking, there is only so much you can do in one day. If you cannot do it all at once, split your ‘to-do’ tasks up in your diary or calendar with definitive, prioritised completion dates.

If needs be, you can always shift the dates around depending on your workload on a particular day. But don’t procrastinate or avoid the tasks you like the least.

4. Tie down your proposals

This is crucial to completing projects with the minimum time, hassle and being able to take on much more work as a result. When you submit cost proposals, leave nothing to ambiguity and make your costings clear.

  • What does you scope of work include, and as importantly not include?
  • How many rewrites, design drafts or videography edits are your including? Aim for two rewrites/redrafts maximum. Clearly state this in the proposal and that anything over could incur an additional charge.
  • What are the client’s – and your – expectations. If it is a design project, how many images have you agreed to provide, or is the client providing images? If it is the client, what resolution do need them supplied to?
  • If you are a copywriter, how will you obtain the source information to write the content?

When agreeing deadlines, under-delivery is not an option. Over-delivery is what you should aim for every time. So, in your proposal, give yourself an additional safety time margin if you can. But be realistic. If you don’t think you can meet the timelines the client is asking for, never promise something you can’t achieve.

Make an assessment of how much time you may need for preparation and factor it into the cost. You could even itemise this separately as part of your proposal. And factor in that, whatever time you think it will take to complete a project, it will probably take longer. A 20% safety margin is a good barometer.

5. Keep ahead of the client

This is a tricky one if you are inundated with work, but absolutely crucial. Always keep one step ahead of the client. Clients will normally appreciate it if you are over-delivering but will rarely forgive for late delivery. You should be keeping the client under pressure, not the other way around.

6. Business develop at every opportunity

This is not directly related to time management, but crucial all the same. Freelancing is often like waiting for a London bus. You wait for an hour, then five arrive at the same time. When you are running several jobs at the same time it can get stressful. Then you might have periods when you are scratching for work. Many clients will have specific requirements, and once you have created their website or brochure for example, that will do them for the foreseeable future.

The downtime periods are not a time to rest. They are an opportunity to develop new business. Whether you use LinkedIn, search engines or company directories, business develop as much as possible. As well as ‘end’ clients, another great source of work can come from content or marketing agencies.

Talk to us

We partner with copywriters and graphic designers whenever the need arises. Please contact us on +44 (0) 1242 230404, or hello@macopywriting.co.uk.

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