Freelancing hacks blog feature

Top 10 Freelancing Hacks and Strategies for Success

Don’t you love the idea of making more money? And making money while working flexibly—from a place you like and for the number of hours you like—sounds like a dream. 

Only, it was the reality for 64 million Americans who freelanced in 2023

While freelancers enjoy autonomy and flexibility in their work, running a freelance business comes with its share of chaos and unpredictability.

But what if you could work on your terms AND avoid the headaches? Enter freelancing hacks. They’re a magic formula to save time on soul-crushing admin work, land retainer clients and say goodbye to burnout. 

With the battle-tested freelancing hacks we cover in this article, you can make your day flow productively and inch closer to the work-life balance you’ve always wanted.

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Understanding Freelancing: How It Works

Freelancing involves working independently on a project or contractual basis for multiple freelance clients rather than being employed by a single organization long-term. While it has many allures, like flexible hours and varied work, it also comes with challenges.

Here are some critical procedural knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed and grow as a freelancer.

Procedural knowledge

Some procedural freelancing knowledge includes:

  • Understanding how to evaluate potential projects and clients to ensure a good fit
  • Knowing how to set appropriate rates based on your skills, experience level, and client budget
  • Learning contracting best practices—like having a solid freelance contract and payment terms in place before starting work
  • Getting familiar with invoicing, time tracking, tax filing, and other financial procedures

For example, blocking two hours every Monday morning for sending invoices and payment follow-ups can be a simple procedural tactic that saves you lots of time chasing payments.

Essential skills

Beyond procedures, some essential soft and hard skills for freelance success include:

  • Communication skills: Communicating effectively with diverse clients and setting proper expectations is crucial. For instance, promptly responding to client emails and clarifying ambiguities helps avoid frustration
  • Self-discipline: Since you’re your boss as a freelancer, you need the self-discipline to get work done without supervision. For example, sticking to a designated work schedule rather than working erratic hours boosts productivity
  • Time management: Managing your time across different projects and competing priorities is critical as a freelancer. Maintaining a calendar to track all deadlines can help you complete more projects on time and not overcommit
  • Personal branding: Building a solid personal brand that resonates with your target audience helps attract clients who match your skills well. It’ll also boost your credibility in the long run

Now that you know what it takes to be a freelancer, let’s explore some tried and tested freelancing hacks to make life as a freelancer simpler for you.

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10 Freelancing Hacks for Sucess 

Here are 10 proven tips and tricks to help you stay productive and profitable as a freelancer and small business owner.

1. Automate repeated tasks

As a freelancer, you do specific administrative tasks repeatedly—sending reminder emails to clients, creating invoices, preparing contracts, etc. Manually repeating these tasks can consume a lot of time and reduce productivity. The solution? Automation.

Automated workflows run on autopilot based on triggers you define, letting you stay focused on high-value project work and service clients instead.

Productivity platforms such as ClickUp offer various automation features that can assist freelancers in implementing this hack. 

Automations in ClickUp
Select from 100+ Automations to streamline workflows, routine tasks, project handoffs, and more in ClickUp

Choose from over 100 readymade Automation sequences in ClickUp to streamline your workflow. Or build your automations using natural language via ClickUp Brain

You can automate status updates for projects, assign tasks to your team, and even send notifications to keep everything flowing seamlessly without needing to intervene in any step.

For example, you could say: When task status changes to done, apply the Monthly Invoice Template, and send an email requesting invoice approval to the client email address associated with the task.

2. Time block your day

With clients vying for your attention via emails and pings, not to mention your own distractions like social media—your focus can easily break. Deep work takes longer, and your thinking and output quality suffer. 

An excellent remedy is time blocking. A favorite productivity hack among freelancers and full-time employees, it involves dedicating specific time blocks in your calendar for focused work on a single task. 

The key to getting the most out of time-blocked focus work sessions is to eliminate distractions during these intervals. Also, avoid multitasking because context-switching can drastically reduce your productivity.

Calendar view in ClickUp
Organize projects, plan timelines, and visualize your work on the flexible Calendar view in ClickUp

Freelancers can use ClickUp’s Calendar view to plan their days and weeks. This feature allows you to drag and drop tasks into time slots, creating a clear structure for your workday. Syncing time blocks within ClickUp with Google Calendar or other external calendars also allows you to keep all your schedules updated.

ClickUp also comes with a Focus Mode inside ClickUp Docs. Use it to focus on what you’re typing by removing other distractions on your document while you type.

You can choose from two options:

Block focus mode

In the block focus mode, surrounding text and content in your Doc will be dulled so you can focus on what you’re typing.

block focus mode in ClickUp Docs
Use the block focus mode in ClickUp Docs to zero in on what you’re typing

Page focus mode

The page focus mode creates a minimalist writing experience by hiding the Doc sidebars while typing.

page focus mode in ClickUp Docs
Use the page focus mode in ClickUp Docs to hide the sidebar and minimize distractions

3. Say no to time-wasters

As a small business, it’s tempting to say yes to every project and client that comes your way. But not every project is an excellent match for your skills or rates.

Taking on projects that underpay you or don’t align with your strengths leads to frustration, average-quality work, and burnout over time.

That’s why learning to say no—politely yet firmly is critical. Decline projects that don’t excite you or fit your expertise, pay rates, and availability. It may feel uncomfortable initially, but it gets easier with practice.

And how do you determine which projects to take on and which ones to steer clear of? 

With ClickUp’s time-tracking capabilities!

Time-tracking in ClickUp
Track time, set estimates, add notes, and view reports of your time from anywhere in ClickUp

By monitoring how much time is spent on different tasks, freelancers can analyze their workflows and pinpoint areas where time is not effectively used. Record time from your desktop, mobile, or web browser with ClickUp’s free Chrome extension

Adding notes and labels to your time entries lets you easily link time tracked to whichever task you’re working on in ClickUp. 

4. Schedule administrative work

As a freelancer, it’s easy to get so engrossed in project work that administrative tasks get ignored. But freelancing also requires you to do administrative work like:

  • Sending invoices
  • Following up on payments
  • Filing taxes
  • Managing contracts

Though these tasks seem mundane, neglecting them can lead to significant problems like cash flow issues or tax penalties.

Make your freelancing journey smoother by making time for such tasks consistently. In ClickUp, you can schedule administrative tasks using Recurring Tasks and Reminders.

You can allocate time slots specifically for admin work and set recurring tasks for those that need to be done regularly, such as weekly invoicing, ensuring you never miss out on these essential duties.

5. Align your brand and background with client expectations

Want to attract clients that are a good fit? One of the best freelancing hacks is appropriately portraying your skills and experience. 

For example, if you enjoy working with tech startups on creative content projects, ensure your website, proposals, and portfolio highlight this specialty.

Study the client’s industry, style, and voice, and tailor your proposals and portfolio accordingly.

Leverage ClickUp’s Custom Fields and tags to track each of your client projects based on criteria such as Industry, Formality, Skill Level, etc. Reviewing these tags helps identify patterns in the kinds of clients and projects you work best with. You can then position your brand consistently to appeal to such clients.

Create professional and persuasive project proposals with ClickUp’s Client Project Proposal Template

A quick tip: Use ClickUp’s Client Project Proposal Template to streamline your project proposal process and ensure a smooth client onboarding experience.

6. Mind the timezones

When freelancing with international clients across time zones, communication can get tricky.

For instance, scheduling a Zoom meeting at 10 AM your time without realizing it’s midnight for the client abroad can cause frustration. Or sending urgent Slack messages while the client is asleep can adversely impact their impression of your reliability.

That’s why it’s crucial to consider time zone differences when collaborating globally.

ClickUp makes it easier. Set your personal timezone in ClickUp to avoid confusion with other members of your Workspace, including your clients and your (dispersed) team. This way, you can keep your recurring tasks and due dates in check. 

With some foresight into time zones, you can proactively schedule communication and task deadlines during mutually suitable hours. The result? Happier international clients and a stronger global reputation.

7. Take regular breaks and have a cut-off time

As a freelancer, you likely don’t have strict work hours. With the flexibility to work anytime, work can easily blend into your personal time. And you can keep working non-stop for hours, trying to juggle multiple clients and deadlines.

You know it: setting boundaries is non-negotiable. But it’s easier said than done. 

Here are a few ways to make it happen:

  • Comma pauses: Don’t have time for a full-fledged break? It’s okay; take a comma pause instead. Look up from your screen and let your eyes focus on a distant object for one minute to give them some rest. Or do a quick 2-minute breathing exercise or meditation. You can also get up from your desk and walk a few paces or simply stretch your legs
  • Cut-off time: Have a cut-off time where you stop accepting new work requests for the day and make room for rest and rejuvenation. Any requests outside those hours can wait till the next day

The Pomodoro Timer in ClickUp is a practical tool that prompts you to take regular breaks. Structuring work sessions with built-in pauses helps maintain peak productivity without edging close to burnout.

8. Develop processes and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

As your own operations manager, you have to develop efficient processes and systems for completing work. You likely have specific processes and tasks that repeat across projects, such as onboarding new clients, creating content strategy decks, etc. 

Remembering every step each time you do these repetitive tasks can be challenging. Small but important details can slip through the cracks.

Having SOPs, checklists, and templates for such processes can be the answer.

Identify your common project workflows and create standardized processes around them using ClickUp Task Checklists and templates. It will bring more structure and clarity to your work.

Task Checklists in ClickUp
Use Task Checklists in ClickUp to stay on top of your commitments while templatizing processes

For example, your article writing process checklist could look like this:

  • Research topic ideas
  • Outline structure
  • Write the first draft
  • Edit and proofread
  • Add graphics
  • Submit final draft

You can use checklists to:

  • Create tasks and nest sub-tasks as to-do lists within projects
  • Add assignees to each task or sub-task
  • Templatize frequent workflows

9. Invest in yourself

Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of complacency while you work from home; keeping your skills sharp and learning new relevant skills gives you a competitive edge in the freelance world. It also makes your work more stimulating.

Set aside a dedicated budget and time each month for continuous learning. Use it to take courses, attend conferences, buy tools—anything that builds your capabilities.

ClickUp Goals
With ClickUp Goals, stay on track to hit your objectives with clear timelines, measurable targets, and automatic progress tracking

Use ClickUp Goals to build your upskilling momentum. Set a Goal like “Complete 16 hours of professional development this month” to keep yourself accountable. Break that goal into smaller weekly or daily learning tasks and schedule them like any other work task.

For instance, a freelance graphic designer could block 2 hours every Friday to practice new design skills through online tutorials. 

Treat learning goals like work deliverables. The investment will pay off manifold when you can offer expanded or upgraded skills to clients at higher rates.

10. Socialize

Working in isolation all the time as a freelancer can take a toll. That’s why it’s essential to make time for meaningful social interactions. Schedule video calls to catch up with friends, attend networking events, set up coworking time with other freelancers, and socialize regularly.

Social connections provide emotional rejuvenation and support that boosts your productivity. Building relationships can also lead to referrals, collaborations, and a sense of community, which is particularly important for those who work independently.

Freelancers can leverage ClickUp to schedule networking events, keep track of contacts, and manage follow-ups. Using ClickUp’s Collaboration Detection, you can work with others in real-time, fostering teamwork and engagement within the platform.

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Maintain Momentum in Your Freelancing Journey with ClickUp

Implementing these freelancing hacks and best practices requires some effort upfront. But the fulfillment from flourishing in your career makes it completely worthwhile.

When you automate repetitive tasks, block distraction-free time, establish boundaries, and nurture your skills, your productivity, and profitability as a freelancer grows exponentially. 

Equally importantly, these freelancing hacks help avoid frustration and burnout, enabling sustainable success. The key is to start small. Focus on implementing just one hack at a time—until it becomes a habit—before adding another. Use tools like ClickUp to streamline the process.

You’ll work at higher levels within a few months than your previous best. And you’ll enjoy the freelancing journey even more. Sign up for ClickUp and unlock all these advantages today!

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1. What is the easiest way to freelance?

The easiest way to freelance is to start by offering services that align with your skillset and reach out to potential clients within your immediate and extended networks. Many freelancers also find their first project on popular freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork. 

Here’s a quick guide to help you get started:

  • Identify a skillset you can monetize. For example, copywriting, graphic designing, software development, etc. This will help you define your niche
  • Create an online presence where your target audience can find you—freelancing websites and platforms or professional networking platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Develop your portfolio by offering your services and gaining relevant experience or creating sample work
  • Start networking with other freelancers and professionals. Keep your interactions human, and don’t reach out to them solely for gigs
  • Reach out to potential clients directly and pitch your services to them as solutions to their pain points

Pro tips: Building a profile on LinkedIn and networking can connect you to potential clients without the hassles of cold pitching or bidding for jobs on freelance platforms. Offering freelance skills like web design, writing, or consulting in your local community allows you to start without complex online infrastructure.

2. How can I get better at freelancing?

Implement freelancing hacks such as developing your core and soft skills. Streamline workflows by using project management tools like ClickUp and use templates and SOPs to save time on repeatable tasks.

Seek mentorship from experienced freelancers, take online courses on business skills, and keep expanding your services to boost capabilities.

Finally, don’t forget to block time for deep work, schedule regular breaks, say no to time-wasting projects, and find an accountability buddy to keep you motivated.

3. Which skill is best for freelancing?

More than specific skills, soft skills such as self-motivation, discipline, communication, and time management are vital for freelancing success. 

High-demand skills like programming, writing, graphic design, digital marketing, and consulting make it easier to attract clients.

Being an adaptable generalist able to provide diverse services like social media, web design, admin support, etc., opens up more opportunities.

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