Have you ever counted the time you are spending on managing work that you don’t get paid for?
Of course, managing invoices, responding to clients’ emails, and outreaching new leads are crucial to keeping your business afloat. However, these tasks can quickly become major time sinks.
So how can you free up more time for project work and, as a result, earn more as a freelancer? We are sharing some tips in this article.
How to Automate Repetitive Tasks?
Solopreneurs often juggle a lot of tasks ranging from business development to accountancy. Fortunately, you can use various strategies and tools to automate many of them these days. Let’s check them out.
1. Use Professional Invoicing Software
Creating invoices manually using Excel or Word documents is a time-consuming process that often results in many errors.
To spend less time on invoicing, consider using invoicing tools. By relying on software rather than spreadsheets, you can create invoices much faster by pre-populating fields such as invoice number and client details.
Two other key features also help send invoices and get paid faster: invoice reminders and recurring invoicing. These features make it much more likely that you won’t be chasing overdue invoices.
Thanks to invoice reminders, you no longer have to write emails and remember to send them to clients manually. Most invoicing tools help you set up email reminders that are sent automatically to clients.
You can use your favorite invoice reminder template — the invoicing software does the rest. It fills in the fields with invoice and client information before automatically sending it to a client’s address.
With the other feature — recurring invoicing — you no longer have to duplicate your invoice to change the invoice number and due date for payment. This tool automates the process by updating key fields and sending the invoice to your client. This feature is especially useful for freelancers who work on a retainer basis.
2. Hire a Virtual Assistant
Freelancers often have to deal with a few time-consuming tasks that can be easily outsourced. Virtual assistants are perfect at dealing with them, and their hourly rate is often reasonable. Lessening the burden from the more tedious work allows you to focus on the critical aspects of a project and boost your productivity.
Hiring a professional VA can free up more time to work on well-paid projects and manage your billable time more effectively.
3. Integrate Inbox with an Email Client
Juggling multiple inboxes and productivity apps can quickly lead to losing focus and burnout. This effect is usually caused by switching between the numerous tabs when you have to access various tools and research information online– let alone getting distracted by hundreds of ads that bombard you online when you are doing it.
Imagine how much easier it would be if you could do all your work from one dashboard without switching your browser tabs. Currently, email clients help you bring all your email accounts and the most popular productivity tools under one roof.
When using an email client such as Mailbird, you can manage multiple mailboxes from one place — your unified mailbox and integrate with over 30 productivity tools. This way, you have everything in one dashboard and can remove major distractions that result in getting less work done. Check out how integrated apps work together in the screenshot below.
4. Create Recurring Tasks
Creating Instagram posts, responding to blog comments, or checking KPIs are the tasks that never disappear from a freelancer’s task list. Despite their recurring nature, these tasks are easy to forget.
Instead of jotting down these tasks on a piece of paper, use a popular task management tool that offers a function of setting tasks to repeat.
For example, when using Asana for task automation, you can set your tasks to repeat on specific days.
After configuring tasks as recurring, you shouldn’t worry that your continuous reminder will disappear from the dashboard. You can check them as complete, and they will reappear in your dashboard again according to your scheduled time.
5. Track Project Time Online
Tracking time is crucial to give clients precise project estimates before you start work. After kicking off the project, you often have to create weekly or monthly time reports to inform a client about the work progress.
However, it’s easy to forget about switching on the timer when doing work and switching it off when you move to a different project or just want to surf the Internet.
With time-tracking tools such as Hive or ClickUp, you can make time-tracking a more controlled process. Some of the programs can automatically record time and assign recorded hours to a specific project.
They also let you generate reports for each project or client with just a few clicks. For example, in Toggl, you can export a timesheet in PDF format for a specific time range.
6. Pre-schedule Social Media Posts
Whether you are managing your clients’ social media or your own, creating, scheduling, or tracking social media metrics, time can add up and become consuming.
You can use social media scheduling tools to automate social media management from A to Z. These tools help you schedule your social media posts for all channels from one dashboard and generate reports with a 360-degree audience overview.
Here is how these reports look in Sprout Social, a tool for social media management.
Source: Sprout Social
If you manage multiple sizeable social media accounts and are responsible for comment moderation, managing all comments from one place becomes a real time-saver.
7. Simplify Event Scheduling
Keeping clients in the loop about their project progress is one of the vital daily tasks of a freelancer, and no channel can help do it better than a video conference.
The same applies to prospects — arranging a call to discuss possible cooperation options is often the first step to signing a contract.
In both cases, finding an available time slot can result in a long email conversation. To arrange calls faster, it’s worth using event scheduling tools.
For example, by using Calendly, you can send a client a link to your calendar with available slots. By checking all your available time slots, a client or prospect can choose the one suiting their schedule quicker.
8. Showcase Your Portfolio
Before starting work with a freelancer, clients usually ask candidates to send some examples of their previous work or share a portfolio. Describing previous projects may require writing a long email and adding multiple links to your public projects.
Instead of repeatedly writing such emails every time you have to showcase your work, publish your portfolio on a website or a dedicated portfolio platform.
For example, you can use Contently or another one of the various platforms if you are a content creator. Adding links to your previous articles is the only thing you have to do to create a visually appealing portfolio online.
If you are a graphic designer, you can create a portfolio project using Dribbble or Behance. You can attract new clients looking through candidates by publishing your portfolio on these portals.
Additionally, you can link to your Behance or Dribbble portfolio in emails to clients coming from your website contact form or social media.
9. Send NPS surveys
Collecting feedback about your work from clients using online surveys is a great way to discover your customer loyalty and learn how you can improve as a freelancer professional. NPS surveys are one of the tools you can use to predict if a client wants to work with you regularly.
This survey type shows a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is the highest score. Typically, these forms include an open-ended question, letting clients provide more written feedback.
Creating NPS surveys and analyzing the results using an email editor is time-consuming, but you can use survey tools to automate this process. They offer visually-appealing templates of surveys that you can easily integrate into your email body.
When using these tools, you can modify question blocks using a drag-and-drop editor and copy the HTML code to use in emails. Also, you can send the surveys right from an NPS tool, making collecting feedback even easier.
Check out this example of an NPS survey to get an idea of what they can look like in a visual editor.
Source: Zonka Feedback
Every freelancer deals with a lot of repetitive tasks. They can quickly become time sinks taking your time and focus away from billable work.
Without automating these tedious tasks, your day can quickly exceed the usual eight hours leading to burnout. Fortunately, by implementing the strategies and using the tools recommended in this article, you can free up more time to focus on existing and new projects.