We have all heard the phrase, Time Is Money, but as a freelancer this becomes your daily mantra!
Employed friends & family will love to remind you that your job means you can work as and when you want, but the reality as any freelancer will know is very different!
When you cut ties with full time employment, you are in charge of yourself, and yes, it is liberating! However, it also means the 9-5 window no longer applies, if you don’t get your list ticked off by 5, then it is an evening of work for you!
As an established freelancer, it has taken me some time (and mistakes!) to figure out the best way to manage my day so that I am never wasting precious time. And believe me, it is precious because my job is me and I need to continue to provide the best service in order to maintain a successful business.
Throughout the years there has been one standout aspect of my job as a freelancer that has really contributed to a wealth of ‘dead time’. Freelancers reading this will know where I am going here, yes you guessed it, meetings!
Now don’t get me wrong, one of the perks of my job is the rapport I get with my clients, and a massive part of that is the face-to-face meetings! However, it is so easy to fall into a trap of meeting for each and every aspect of a project big or small. And quite frankly, it is a massive waste of time, money and energy!
When Are Meetings important?
I have always recognised the value of meeting with my clients, these people aren’t likely to trust me with their business if I am simply a faceless person on the Internet!
It is also great for me to meet the people I will be working with, it gives me the opportunity to get to know their personality, what they are really looking for and how they want to go about getting it!
What I would say is to know when a meeting is necessary, and know when you can say it better in an email! Imagine having 8 hours in a day and a to-do list as long as your arm, with no boss looking over your shoulder it is completely on you to get those things done. If you have to meet with two clients during the day to go over the work you did last week, it is likely to eat up into your time, meaning that 8-hour window is going to get bigger, and bigger!
It may sound over the top, but client meetings really can take up your entire day! When you factor in the commute to and from, and then the meeting itself (which often goes on much longer than scheduled!), you are looking at some valuable hours lost.
Knowing when a meeting was important was one of the most invaluable things I ever learnt and has since improved my productivity, my focus, my quality of work, and most importantly my customer service!
Take it from me on this one, always find out about the job before you meet up! Back when I was a much less experienced version of myself, I would sometimes arrange or agree to meetings with potential clients with little or no information at all regarding what their project was all about! If a new person made contact with me and wanted to meet, I often would do – no questions asked!
It was only during these meetings that it became obvious that there had been a misunderstanding, and that actually my service wasn’t what they had in mind after all!
If this is all sounding startlingly familiar, don’t worry! I think it is a right of passage for all freelancers to make these easy mistakes! However, if you want to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later, these are some things I learnt the hard way!
Why Are Meetings Not Always The Best Way?
My main tip here is to always request some written information from all potential clients BEFORE you make first contact.
It doesn’t need to be the full chapter and verse with every fine detail, but you want to have a good understanding before you commit to a long meeting. Not only will this prevent any unnecessary time being wasted, but it will also make that first meeting much more productive!
There are loads of reasons for why a client may want to meet with you, and usually, it can be resolved in much faster and efficient ways! They are probably just incredibly enthusiastic, it is important to bear in mind here that this is their baby and they are paying good money for you to make it a reality!
If it were your first ever meeting with your new client, I would always recommend a face-to-face get together; it can really get things off to a good start! If after this you find they want to meet with you every week, it may be time to consider some of the following options:
- What is it that your client needs? Often an email or a quick call can resolve this without the need for a face-to-face meeting.
- Consider providing a quick courtesy email at the end of each working day with a brief list of updates detailing exactly what you have done. This is a great way to keep your clients in the loop, without it taking up hours of the day.
- Find out if there is an issue, if a client is wanting to meet with you constantly, it may be because they are unhappy with the progress, and may require a little bit of reassurance.
The take-home message . . .
We are all human, and we are bound to want to please each and every client, even more so if you are just starting out in your career! So don’t beat yourself up if you have found yourself nodding along in horror to all of my points – You will learn what works best for you and your clients, just as I did!
Just bear in mind that your time is incredibly valuable in this line of work, and ultimately you want to make your business, and your clients business a success.
Sometimes that means knowing when to say no to a “quick” meeting or phone call, and if handled correctly, your client will thank you for it – remember, it is their time too!