7 Hacks For Home-Based Freelancers To Stay Sane And Productive

Being a freelancer and working from your home office sounds ideal right? You get up when you want. Your commute to the ‘office’ takes seconds. You can do business wearing your pyjamas…The reality is a little different. Most home-based freelancers work long hours to get their business off the ground. Rather than chilling out in front of day time TV, most freelancers worry they spend too much time working, lose out on their social life, and some even risk burning out.


Without proper planning, the work-from-home dream can become a work-from-home nightmare.

Let’s look at 7 simple hacks you can use to avoid the bad side and boost the good side of freelancing.

1. Set up a proper office

First off, create an office which is not in your bedroom. Your office space should have a good quality chair, enough lighting to stop your eyes from hurting and should be customized to your requirements – get a second monitor, or a laptop stand if that makes things more comfortable
Avoid: trying and do your work in your bed – keep it for sleeping!

2. Dress professionally

As a rule of thumb, wear professional clothes that fit your sector. If you’re a management consultant, wear a suit or office outfit. If you’re a graphic designer, it’s OK to keep to jeans and a t-shirt. In any case, dress like you would if you were going to a ‘real’ office – it will put you in the right frame of mind.
Avoid: wearing your pyjamas – once again, keep them for sleeping in!

3. Get out the house and ‘walk to work’

Many home-base freelancers make a ritual of ‘walking to work’ every day – even if that’s just a five minute stroll round the block. The simple act of getting up, putting on your clothes and getting out there to face the day will get you into the mentality that your working day has begun.
Avoid: rolling out of bed and starting to work straight away

4. Keep to normal office hours

Freelancers should aim to stick to regular office hours – and you should put limits on how long you work for each day. This will help you avoid burnout
Avoid: the temptation to work all hours – in the end it will exhaust you

5. Organize your day

It’s great not having a manager looking over your shoulder, right? Uh, not really – because now you’re the manager. Set yourself a list of tasks you will do each day and prioritize them.
Avoid: losing focus and spending too little time on tasks you don’t like, but which are essential

6. Take regular breaks throughout the day and eat healthily

You should try and get at least some exercise each day and keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods. Also, take regular breaks like you would in a normal office
Avoid: sitting for hours at a desk for hours and grazing on junk food

7. Avoid distractions

You should allocate yourself some time each day to read the news and check social media – just like when you were a regular employee. But, set yourself time limits for this kind of procrastination
Avoid: having social media, the radio or even the TV on in the background – you’ll get distracted and waste time

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Len is a tech and business writer who covers small business and startup advice and has appeared in many print and digital publications. He lives in London, UK, where he's also a sub editor on a national newspaper. He loves to travel and has lived in France, Spain, Senegal and Rwanda.

10 ways to use LinkedIn to find work for your business

When it comes to finding work for your small business, LinkedIn is one of the best hunting grounds out there. And, employers are increasingly turning to LinkedIn too – since 2015 there’s been a 40% increase in recruiters using InMail to contact potential candidates. The platform is hugely popular among contractors, freelancers and small business owners as a way of finding work. So, if you just think of your LinkedIn profile as an online CV, you’re probably missing out on some huge opportunities to grow your business. Let’s look at 10 methods to use LinkedIn to find work for your business.

10 ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn

There are two ways of winning freelance or contracting work through LinkedIn:

  • Active: this is where you put yourself out there, make connections and hunt for job listings
  • Passive: this is where you optimize your profile to make it more likely that recruiters or other job posters find you10 ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn

In effect there’s a lot of crossover between active and passive freelance work hunting; by being active in the right LinkedIn groups, it makes it more likely that a recruiter comes across your profile later on while you’re not actually doing anything to find work.

So, here are 10 ways freelancers and contractors can use LinkedIn to find work:

1. Make a good first impression

Your LinkedIn profile can say a lot about you to potential recruiters. Make sure the first things they see appear professional and smart. Your profile photo should be up to date and smart, you should have a relevant background image and you should use your real name (as opposed to a nickname or your company name). If you haven’t already, you should also aim to complete your entire profile – LinkedIn makes this easy for you by giving you pointers as to where you need to add more detail as you’re editing your page.

2. Headline and summary

Just like any search engine, LinkedIn uses keywords. So, whenever someone searches for, say, a freelance web designer on LinkedIn, those profiles that contain that keyword will come top of the search. Make sure your headline and LinkedIn summary include keywords related to what you do. This makes it way more likely that recruiters will find your profile and get in touch about jobs.

3. Ask for endorsements

Request that existing contacts provide endorsements for your skills and expertise, especially if these come from previous freelance or contracting employers. If you can get a positive review of your work on a project, this will give any potential recruiters that extra bit of confidence that you’re worth taking a chance on.

4. Use your profile as a portfolio

There are a number of ways you can use your profile as a portfolio. Most obviously, you should bunch small jobs and projects together in your experience section, detailing the kinds of work you do and the clients you work with. For larger projects you’ve completed, list these separately, perhaps with a link to information about the final piece. Finally, you should include links to your website and online portfolio in your LinkedIn summary section.

5. Post updates and articles

Put your name out there by posting updates, sharing articles and other links. LinkedIn allows you to publish your own thoughts on LinkedIn Pulse too, so a well written article about a subject you know a lot about can be read and shared by hundreds of people. And, LinkedIn Pulse posts appear in Google search results too. One of your readers may well be impressed by your knowledge and offer you some work.

6. Join groups

LinkedIn has countless groups related to different professions. Whether you’re an independent accountant, a freelance journalist or a management consultant, there’s almost certainly groups aimed at your niche. By joining these groups and asking and answering questions, you boost your profile in the community. And, if you’re active in LinkedIn groups, you boost your chance of winning work. Recruiters who join the group will see you as an expert and may get in touch. At the same time, friendships you make with other group members could lead to referral work in future.
Read more about the power of networking in this article.

7. Connect with potential employers

LinkedIn is a website designed specifically for facilitating business connections. So, don’t be shy about connecting with potential employers! If you’re a freelance web developer, and you’ve mainly worked with IT managers at public sector organizations in the past, there is no reason not to simply search LinkedIn for people with this kind of profile and requesting to follow them. Sure, not everyone will accept, but those that do might just pay off.

8. Send personalized InMails

To be able to send an InMail, you need to have a premium profile. However, for a few dollars per month, this could be a worthwhile investment if you do it right. Personalized InMails allow you to connect to anyone on LinkedIn and send them a message. However, for any success here, you need to make sure your message is personally directed at the person you’re trying to speak to – don’t just send a spammy message you’ve sent to a hundred other people, or your connections will just ignore you.
Read our guide on striking deals over email.

9. Connect with old employers

Old employers, managers and even colleagues who’ve changed jobs and risen in seniority are often a great source of work for freelancers and contractors. Add these people to your network and send them a message to let them know what you’re doing nowadays. They just might have some work you can help out with.

10. View ads!

One of the easiest ways to find freelance and contracting work on LinkedIn is to set up notifications for job ads which contain your keywords – be that freelance writer, graphic designer or IT consultant. LinkedIn can email you daily, weekly or monthly summaries of jobs in your sector – let LinkedIn do the hard work for you!

5 Online Service Businesses you can start on $1,000 or less

Starting an online service business doesn’t need to cost the earth. With some dedication and a little bit of luck, you can start an online services business for as little as $1,000. Let’s look at five popular kinds of online service businesses you can launch with limited capital.

1. Event Planning

To become an event planner, you need little more than a website where people can book your time and a knowledge of your niche. It’s a wise idea to choose a specific kind of event that you help plan for, as this will allow you to differentiate yourself in the market. Whether it’s kids’ parties, weddings or business networking events, you need to make a name for yourself in one specific sector.

You’ll need to be able to source entertainment, refreshments and space for your events, but once this is organized, you’ll be able to include these in your prices and start turning a profit fast.

2. Online Tutoring

Got a college degree in Physics? Know a language that people the other side of the world want to learn? Have years of experience in a sector and can provide guidance and mentoring? Online tutoring is a great, low cost way of selling your expertise in a specific area. You need little more than a laptop and some lesson plans to get started and making money!

3. Copy Editing and Proof Reading

Whether it’s reports, brochures, whitepapers or guide books, there’s ever more companies producing ever more content. To make sure that content is well written and free of grammatical mistakes, many companies turn to copy editors and proof readers. If you can spot a spelling mistake a mile off – and proof copy fast and efficiently, your services will be in high demand. And, because you need nothing more than a computer (and maybe a printer) to get started, this is one of the cheapest businesses to start around.

4. IT Consulting

As businesses use technology more and more, the demand for friendly, efficient and knowledgeable IT consultants keeps on growing. Whether you’ve got experience installing hardware or are more comfortable migrating databases or coding applications, there’s an almost limitless number of companies who will need your help.

5. Virtual Assistant

Many companies have a range of jobs and pieces of work that their own employees don’t have the time or skills to do. Whether it’s chasing customers about invoices, managing their social media or data entry, if you have versatile office skills you can offer your customers a huge help – all you need is a website to get started.

Whatever your business idea, you need to make it easy for customers to book your services. Learn how you can do that in just seven minutes here!