The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
If you're a freelance professional, time is probably one of your biggest constraints. Some days are so overwhelming it can take you hours just to come around your e-mails and routine tasks ... and I bet you know that awkward feeling of "not having done enough yet" as well as I do.
When I started freelancing, back in 2002, managing everyday business tasks on top of "real work" was a bit less stressful - most of the action still happened offline, and the "social media for business" boom (along with other nice but demanding marketing and networking options) had yet to come.
Looking back, it feels like we've moved from extra slow motion to very fast forward in just over a decade ... and even though we had a chance to adjust gradually, the question remains: how can I keep up with it all?
I haven't found the ultimate answer yet, but learning how to use templates effectively really helped.
Here below you'll find a few tips and resources to make this work for you as well.
In 2012, International Data Corp. and McKinsey Global Institute found out that the average worker spends up to 28% of their working time reading and answering e-mails (full report). Even though such a research was geared at corporate employees rather than freelancers, it is safe to assume that e-mail management for us is just as time-consuming (if not more).
Good news is that most e-mail clients supports the creation of templates (or drafts, or similar you can use to save a few minutes here and there, which can easily sum to hours in just one week.
To find out more about the options provided by your favourite client, check out:
Theoretically you can create a virtually unlimited number of templates - still, most of our communication can be divided in just a handful of different categories, so I'd recommend limiting your "collection" to the essentials. As an example, my "starter kit" included:
Over time, I also created a few more to speed up communication with regular customers.
However, don't forget that templates should be just an aid to reduce the burden of writing the same standardised information over and over again. Make sure to personalise each message you send, or people would think you're some weird sort of e-mail typing robot (or somebody who just doesn't care - which is actually worse).
Quotes & proposals
I also recommend including a summary of your Terms & Conditions (or alternatively a download link pointing to the full document). Remember to include all the small prints required by your local regulations, to avoid any unpleasant controversies at a later stage.
Recently I stumbled upon a nice post on Divine Write about using custom fields to quote faster.
If you're a Word 2010 user, and keen on getting a bit geeky to save time, it's definitely worth reading.
To create an effective template for blogging, I recommend including at least the following:
My editorial calendar also includes a "Notes" field where I pin topic-related resources I can use to add more value to the article (e.g. links to blog posts, videos, tutorials etc.). More recently, I also created a separate "ideas" tab to collect hints for future posts.
If you need more inspiration to get started, check out: