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Freelancing with multiple clients

One of the best things about freelancing is the ability to pick and choose the kind of projects you are working on, which can sometimes mean freelancing with multiple clients at once. If you’re new to the juggling act, we’ve got some sound advice on making it work for you.

Abbey Charles
Abbey Charles
· 5 min read
Double exposure shot of a woman in a field

First and foremost, our take on over-employment isn’t a secret: it just doesn’t work, at least on Gun.io. If you’re looking for tips on how to pull the wool over clients’ eyes and cash in on not working, our only advice is: don’t look for gigs on Gun.io.

But if you’re looking to fill regular work week with several clients that aren’t asking for full-time commitments, read on.

There are a lot of reasons you might take on multiple clients, and making more money is only one of them. Maybe you want to keep your skills up in multiple languages, or one project is on a particularly slow timeline that allows you to stay busy with other small projects. Whatever the reason, it’s easy enough to manage with a little organization.

Organize and track your time

The biggest hurdle to jump is making sure you are dedicating the right amount of time to each client, and that things don’t fall through the cracks in your attempts to juggle everything. To this end, a project management tool like Trello or Asana is going to be essential to your success. If you don’t want to add another tool to your kit, you can even use GitHub to organize projects into tasks and milestones.

Regardless of the tool, when you’re freelancing with multiple clients you will want each project to have its own space and its own deadlines. Make sure these deadlines don’t overlap with another project or run up against timelines and milestones that conflict with others. It’s your job to set the expectations with clients, and having a clear picture of what that looks like will be indispensable.

Block your schedule

Blocking time for each client is essential, as is blocking time for the administrative work that often comes with freelancing, like contracts, billing, taxes, and the like. Set aside one day a week to make sure those administrative tasks are attended to, because nothing is worse than getting behind on that stuff and having to make up for it with a marathon session of paperwork.

How you block the rest of your time is up to you. The two most efficient ways to do it are to either dedicate entire days solely to one project or to break your day down into smaller blocks, each of which is dedicated to one task at a time.

Prioritize your work

There will be times where one project has to take a back seat to another in order to meet deadlines. Knowing how and when to prioritize appropriately will save you the headache of feeling like everything is an emergency. For example, if Client A has a MVP presentation to the C-suite on Thursday, and that heavily depends on work you’re completing, that should take precedence over Client B’s UI updates that aren’t being shown to anyone until a week from now. Hit Client A’s work heavy this week, and make up for it on Client B’s work the following week.

Freelancing with multiple clients - find your balance; Rubik's cube balanced on the index finger of a right hand.
Find your balance.

Be realistic about timing

Whether you’re freelancing with multiple clients or focusing on a single project, you should always fight the tendency to overcommit. It’s obviously really important when juggling multiple accounts though, because overcommitting on one will leave another severely disappointed. 

Be realistic with the timelines you are giving clients, and know how much you can accomplish in a given amount of time. If your agreement is 20 hours a week, don’t try to cram 28 hours worth of work into the week. On top of disappointing someone else, you’re putting yourself on the fast track to burning out, and at that point no amount of planning can bring you back. 

Take breaks

While we’re on the topic of burning out, it’s important to remember to give yourself a break. Maybe that looks like stepping away for a midday walk between blocks of time. It could also mean using the afternoon of your admin day to take yourself out to lunch or head to a midday yoga class. Whatever it is for you, it’s important to schedule that time away from the computer. As a freelancer, it almost feels too easy to go go go go go, because time is money and you have a limited supply of both. But if you’re not enjoying the benefits of either, then what’s the point?

Know when to say no

Another tendency freelancers have is the one to say “Yes!” to every project because having your work well run dry is a terrifying prospect. This is definitely more of an issue the earlier in your freelance journey you find yourself, when you’re still learning how to navigate the landscape. But even seasoned freelancers can be blinded by a big number or an interesting idea, only to feel burdened by it down the road. If you’re not feeling it right off the bat, pass on the project. There WILL be more. And if you’re part way through and something feels off? Well, there are plenty of ways to navigate working with a difficult client.

Freelancing with multiple clients can be super rewarding, but isn’t without its challenges. Take your time, organize your work, and above all take care of yourself so you can stay in it for the long haul.

Whether you’re looking for some temporary help or your next full time developer, let Gun.io help you find the right person for the job.

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