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The Freelance Writer’s Checklist for Success

We compiled a checklist of the most critical items that as a freelancer, you simply can’t forget to do.

August 30, 2021
If you have a little bit of time left, how about start writing your own bucket list

As a freelance writer, you’ve got a lot going on.


Trust me, I get it.


Clients in different timezones, deadlines hitting at various intervals, tracking down invoices, just to name a few. Sad to say but, sometimes things fall through the cracks. It happens to the best of us.


But have no fear! We’ve got your back.


We compiled a checklist of the most critical items that as a freelancer, you simply can’t forget to do.


We’ve broken it down to daily, weekly, quarterly, and even annual tasks.

Daily Tasks

Check job boards

Regardless of if your dance card is full up or not, it’s always best practice to check job boards every day. With Contena, this ever-important task just became easier. All the best jobs are organized in an easily searchable database, making finding jobs a breeze.


Even if you’re not actively looking for jobs, boards can be a great way to gauge the market. Checking listings can help you get a feel for what clients are looking for and what kind of jobs are out there.


You can even use it as a way to feel out new niche areas, just in case you’re curious.

Pitch

In the same vein as checking job boards daily, a freelancer should always have a few pitches in play. Projects wind down, client budgets dry up, it’s the name of the freelancing game.


While we wouldn’t advise taking on more than you can handle, pitching multiple times a day should be a near-daily task for any freelancer worth their salt.

Writing

Getting down brass tacks, writing is what we do.


Whether it’s responding to emails, crafting client projects, or working on your blog and promotional materials, writing takes up a big bulk of our responsibilities. To maximize your efficiency, consider batching these tasks.

Social Media

By no means am I suggesting you go down a Facebook-feed spiral but social media does have its time and place in the business world.


Checking in and engaging on Twitter and in Facebook groups are great ways to generate leads, learn from others, and grow your professional network.

Weekly Tasks

Invoices

With clients paying at different intervals, invoices can sometimes be forgotten. As a rule, check-in once a week to make sure you don’t have any outstanding invoices hanging around. If so, it’s a great time to send a friendly follow-up reminder.


Additionally, as money comes in, be sure to tuck away a portion for taxes. Especially on the tax front, putting money aside weekly is much easier than scrounging at the end of the quarter.

Review time expenditure

I’m all about reviewing your week and finding ways to improve going forward. Track the time you spend on different tasks and at week's end (try an app to help you), and see if you can better distribute your time.

Remember, because freelancing is an ever-changing endeavor, what works one week, may not be best suited for the next.

Check LinkedIn

LinkedIn is often overlooked as a social media entity but I promise you, it shouldn’t be.


Perfect for networking and sharing professionally relevant articles, LinkedIn can make sure you stay on the cutting edge. Be sure to check in weekly to update your profile, engage with companies, and peruse some of the opportunities available.

Professional development

Taking the time to grow professionally is essential in advancing your business. Professional development can come in many different forms, meaning there’s a platform for everyone.


Whether you invest in an online course, pick up a book, or get lost in a podcast, find something that will help you broaden your horizons.

Monthly Tasks 

Set your schedule

Start each month fresh. Check-in with your clients to solidify projects and deadlines for the upcoming month.


Now would also be an ideal time to reach out to old clients to see if they have any future projects you may be able to help out with.

Update resume and portfolio

Had any prominent articles go live in the past month?


Maybe you’ve been working with a big-name client lately or mastered a new skill?


Now would be a great time to update your resume! Be sure to make PDFs of any articles you could send along to prospective clients.

Take an in-depth look into your accounting

Although a matter of preference for some, I’m a firm believer in evaluating your bank account at both the start and end of each month. Accounting for new income, managing subscription payments, and setting aside money for taxes are all terrific ideas to keep your financial house in order.

Quarterly Tasks

Pay your taxes

Taxes. Ooof.


No one likes them, but unfortunately, they come with the territory. Unlike “traditional” employment where taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck, freelancers have to be responsible for them on their own.

These taxes often include both income and self-employment tax (the latter covers social security and Medicare).


Quarterly taxes are due in April, June, September, and January.

Consider raising your rate

Deciding to increase your rate will ultimately depend on how long you’ve been working with a client. However, putting this item on your quarterly to-do list may help remind you to re-evaluate, especially with your long-standing clients.

Yearly Tasks 

Renew subscriptions

While all your subscriptions most likely won’t be up at the same time, it is a good idea to list out what subscriptions you hold along with their renewal dates. Before their renewal dates, you can decide whether or not they’ve been an asset and if you’d like to continue.

Reflect on the past year

Once a year, take a look back at your business as a whole.


How did you do?


Look for what worked for you and what didn’t. Perhaps you’ll find one of your service offerings made you more money than another. In that case, you can aim to do more of this work going forward. Taking stock of your business one surefire way to improve.

Final Thoughts on Freelance Writer Tasks

Being a freelancer means you have a whole lot of responsibilities to take on.

You may often find yourself wearing a lot of different hats, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.


However, if you get organized with this timed checklist, you can say goodbye to forgotten tasks and be at the top of your game. Circle your calendars and check items off as you go. You can handle it all!


Originally published by Leila Mooney.