Motherhood, Time Management & The Client List
Remember that feeling you got when you landed your first freelance client? For me, it was a “Wow, I can do this!” kind of feeling. And then I got another client soon after that, and then another one. But I also remember going through a long period of networking and pitches and getting radio silence in return. My client list stalled and I was spending valuable family time trying to ramp up orders.
Growing your freelance client list takes time. But when you’re a mom who freelances, time becomes even more precious. Your business isn’t going to build itself, but you also want to reserve special time just for your family. Where do you find the balance?
Here are some of the steps I take to grow my freelance client list without encroaching on my family time.
Be Available To The People On Your Client List — At Your Convenience
Responding quickly to a prospective client is a great way to make a strong first impression. But part of your initial response should also mention your normal business hours. This lets them know what to expect moving forward.
Remember, your leads and clients likely have families, too. They’re probably not expecting an immediate response if they’re reaching out at dinnertime. Don’t feel like you have to answer every question or request immediately.
Time Block Similar Activities
I love time blocking. It keeps me moving through my day so I always know what to expect and where my time is going. It also helps me avoid taking on more work than what I can handle.
Time blocking is simply grouping similar activities together and sticking to a time allotment. For example, I do all my invoicing on Fridays and allow myself 15 minutes. This means I’m logging into my accounting software once per week instead of every time I need to invoice. I think about it one time and free up mental space for other things.
I only check email three times a day: morning, lunch, and right before I go pick up my kids from school. This keeps me focused and helps avoid disruptions.
Time blocking is all about efficiency. It helps you visualize how you’re using your time so you can see how many more clients you’re realistically able to serve.
Managing a Client List: Outsource, Outsource, Outsource!
Outsourcing is the easiest way to scale your time, especially when it comes to busy work like lead gen or you’re trying to meet deadlines but family needs suddenly spring up. I swear, it seems like my kids always know when mommy has a full schedule because that’s when they are most likely to get sick at school (not really, of course, but it often feels that way).
I outsource my time in three ways:
Keyword research, trending topics, testing new business tools, research on behalf of my clients — it’s all necessary, and it all takes time. I’d rather spend more time doing actual client work and being the face of my business.
Or better yet, use those time savings to have fun one-on-one days with my kids. That’s why I hand over some of my busy work to other freelancers. It frees up my time and keeps them in business — win/win!
- Social Media
I don’t have a great social media presence. When I have to choose between doing paid client work, spending time with my family, and posting on social media, the first two always take priority.
But things are about to change, because I’m working with a VA on my social media content. It’s a valuable tool that will help me grow my client list over time because it’s a chance to flex my creative muscles and expertise. To me, that’s worth the money right there.
- Client Project Tasks
I do 99.9% of all my client’s projects myself. I’m the one they’re sold on. I know their brand and business best. We have good relationships. But when I get new orders on Fiverr (a fairly decent slice of my business) that I just can’t handle, I have a couple of other freelancers that are willing to share the load.
I send them the requirements, then they send their work to me for final review before I forward it to the client. I’m strategic about this, as I only share projects in which I don’t have a deep relationship with the client. Most of these are one-off projects. This lets me take on more clients without expanding my work hours — because what freelancer ever wants to turn down work?
You can outsource other things, too: bookkeeping, invoicing, lead generation, content writing, the list goes on. Being in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself.
Trade Pitching for Inbound Marketing
I hate cold pitching. It’s a numbers game: the more you pitch, the more likely you are to get something in return. But it’s a LOT of work with no guarantee you’ll have anything to show for it.
That’s why I don’t cold pitch anymore. I rely on inbound marketing to get my leads — clients come to me when they’re ready to work with me. My favorite inbound marketing tool is Fiverr. I get a fair amount of quality clients each month, some of whom stick around for the long term. And I’m not wasting time sending proposals and competing with freelancers who are going to undercut my rates. At most, I spend a couple back-and-forths before I close them and they place the order. There’s also no invoicing headaches to deal with, which is also a huge time saver.
Aside from that, I grow my business by referrals. Some of my long-term clients have referred me to others without my asking them to do so. But if your clients are referring people to you on their own, I suggest putting a whisper in their ear. Many will be happy to do so once it’s on their radar.
Turn One Task into Two
I have a fairly decent freelance client load, which has left me little time to grow. That’s why, when I do finally have time to work on my business and not just in my business, I stretch every task as far as I can.
For example, when I write a blog post, I’m using that same blog for my social media. If I’m sourcing images for a client, I’m also downloading images that I can use for myself since I’m already in my image subscription library. If I come across a great topic when researching for a client that I can use in my own marketing, I’m jotting down notes to use later.
I’m not having to start from zero every time I want to market myself. I’ve already done some of the hard work this way and can make better use of my work time.
Rethink Your Offerings
Most freelancers have a core offering, the thing they do best. But what other services can you offer that will add revenue to your business without taking a huge time commitment?
For me, a writer, I offer my clients a content upgrade. After I write their blog article, they can choose to add an email newsletter to promote the blog, social media posts, a meta description, and even a Copyscape check to ensure it’s 100% original. These add-ons don’t take much time, but they do add extra revenue to the bottom line.
Essentially, this means you can make more money from the clients you already have so you don’t need to grow your client list as much. Or, it could mean attracting a whole new type of client that values a full-spectrum offering.
Growing your freelance client list and finding time to be a mom is all about balance. I find it best to separate the two worlds so that I can give each side my undivided attention – it makes both feel like they’re the most important people in the world.
Alli Hill is a full-time freelance writer and mom of two. She’s the founder and creative director of FreelanceSpeak, a blog that speaks the language of freelancers by offering marketing tips, coaching, best practices, and other cool stuff to help others grow and prosper. After a 4-day work week, Alli spends her time hiking and going on fun adventures with her family. She’s an okay singer, terrible drawer, and great at finding things.