• The Importance of Time Recording for Team Efficiency

    Many teams agree that time recording is essential in improving productivity and efficiency. However, they usually avoid tracking work hours. It feels like a burden to record time manually since it disrupts their work days, takes up additional time, and results in inaccurate reports.

    In the long run, avoiding time recording will do far more harm than good for your team since the average employee faces more than 50 distractions daily, while multitasking makes them 40% less productive

    You can use automatic time tracking software such as Timing to overcome these challenges and improve operational efficiency and team effectiveness.

    Timing automatically tracks time for your team, helping them do their jobs without interruptions. They can freely switch between tasks without worrying about starting and stopping timers. 

    Timing enables you to understand team capacity, improve time, resources, project management, and increase project profitability by keeping your team on track. 

    Timing also preserves your team members’ privacy by showing the aggregate project time record without personal details. You can get an overview of the time spent on each project to make necessary improvements. To see how it works, download Timing and start tracking time with a 30-day free trial.

    In today’s article, we will explain the importance of time recording for team efficiency and show how to use Timing to achieve your business goals. Let’s start with some general information on time recording.

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  • How to Track Employee Time Effectively: Manual vs Automatic Time Tracking

    To track or not to track… That was the question.

    Not anymore.

    To track manually or automatically – that is the question of today’s importance. Because of poor time tracking habits and, consequently, untracked time, US companies lose $8.8 billion per day.

    Image author: Annie Spratt 

     

    Businesses still face burdensome disagreements around employee work hours and struggle to decide how to monitor the latter efficiently. Let’s take the controversy around old-fashioned paper timesheets vs digitally-driven solutions for worker time monitoring.

    Are you still using paper timesheets or have you already switched to digital methods and productivity apps?

    You’ll definitely change your mind in favor of automatic tools after reading this article. Dive in.

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  • The Top Hard and Soft Freelancing Skills You Should Spend the Time to Develop

    Freelancing skills

    As a freelancer, you’re in charge of everything, including your own personal development. No one will force you to attend classes, take courses, study new techniques, or practice new skills. That all falls on you.

    If you’re thinking, “I don’t need to improve; I already know how to do my job,” you’re making a serious mistake. There is always something new to learn, some new way to improve yourself and the work you perform for your clients. To be competitive and find reasons to raise your rates, you must continually develop your skills.

    But which skills should you improve? We can help with that. This article lays out the top freelancing skills that will help your career.

    If you want to be competitive and find reasons to raise your rates, you must continually develop your skills. Click To Tweet

    The Difference Between Soft and Hard Skills

    Freelancing skills

    Before we jump into the different skills you should develop as a freelancer, it’s important to distinguish between hard and soft skills. You need both types to be successful. 

    Hard skills refer to the skills you need to perform a specific job. These skills are easy to measure and directly create value in your role. You can usually back them up with evidence from degrees, licenses, accreditations, or portfolios. Examples of hard skills include search engine optimization, .NET programming languages, or audio transcription.

    Soft skills refer to skills, behaviors, and traits that apply to all of your work but are harder to quantify. They’re also harder to back up with evidence. Examples of soft skills include communication, leadership, organization, and problem-solving. These skills are critical to your success but don’t directly add value to your work. 

    The Top Freelancing Hard Skills

    Freelancing skills

    If you want to charge top dollar, you need a toolbox of powerful skills to offer your clients. Below you’ll find the top hard freelancing skills that are in-demand (often requested) and pay the most. To compile this list, we looked at data from Upwork, FlexJobs, Indeed, eBiz Facts, and StartupTalky

    What should you do with this information? Identify the hard skills that make the most sense for your career. You’ll undoubtedly find skills that complement your existing skill set, or skills that you can offer as additional products and services. For example, a writer/editor could expand into search engine optimization. A web developer could expand into user experience design or graphic design. An audio engineer who also has video skills could charge top-dollar and work on interesting projects. 

    1. User Experience Design

    This is one of the most in-demand freelance skills at the moment. UX designers create products and experiences to help users get more value from websites and apps.

    3. Shopify Development

    Shopify developers build sites and apps for the popular ecommerce platform. Some freelancers are hired by site owners and others are hired by agencies and resellers. 

    4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    Anyone who wants their website found on search needs to think about search engine optimization at some point. After all, 67% of all link clicks go to the first five results, so it’s no surprise that SEO services (of many types) are in demand.

    5. Editing/Proofreading

    The bar is high for online content these days. 59% of customers won’t purchase from companies that use poor grammar. Organizations need to publish perfectly written copy. If any publication is serious about producing content, they need editors to eliminate spelling, grammar, and plagiarism mistakes. And no, the writer can’t do the editing themselves. 

    6. Voice Artistry

    Voice artists narrate explanation videos, commercials, podcast segments, audiobooks, trailers, video games, training videos, and more. There’s a lot of available work for people with pleasant voices who can speak clearly. 

    7. Amazon Web Services

    AWS is the largest cloud storage provider, used by countless big companies and web services. Using it well to build back-end infrastructure requires highly specialized skills and experience, but the compensation is generous. 

    8. Virtual Assistance

    While virtual assistants don’t earn glamorous salaries, the need for them is greater than ever to complete a wide variety of digital tasks, like answering emails, finding/sorting data, or scheduling appointments. This skill can provide an excellent career for freelancers who don’t have many specialized skills. 

    9. Artificial Intelligence

    Countless companies are using artificial intelligence to empower their systems and apps. There is a lot of money to be made here for freelancers who can use AI and machine learning well. Big companies pay top salaries to experts in this field. 

    10. Translation Services

    In our increasingly global world with more content than ever, we need more translators. You can earn a lot of money if you can translate quickly and cleanly, especially if you can speak Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic

    11. Accounting

    Accounting software may be easier to use than ever, but most organizations still require a skilled professional to help them manage their money, generate reports, comply with financial regulations, and minimize their tax liability. You’ll want a bachelor’s degree and a CPA certification to earn the most money.

    12. Web Design/Development

    Our research shows this is one of the hottest areas for freelancers. Every brand needs a website, which means they all hire a designer/developer at some point. Website creators build attractive and engaging websites so brands can communicate with their customers and fans.  You need experience with languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, Java, and AngularJS. Sometimes the designer and developer are different people, but in many cases, one person plays both roles.

    13. Technical Writing

    Technical writers are some of the highest-paid copywriters. They have highly specialized knowledge and are adept at turning complex topics into clear information. To make this your freelancing career, you must specialize in something deeply. 

    14. Graphic Design

    The world needs lots of visual content. Clients need it for websites, social media profiles, emails, print ads, packaging, film, and more. If you wade into graphic design, it’s smart to niche into a particular style and build a strong portfolio. 

    15. Career Coaching

    This is a unique skill that’s grown in demand due to the Great Resignation: If you have experience in a particular field, those new to the industry or people who need help will pay you for advice, guidance, and direction. Clients expect to see hard evidence of your experience, like certifications and documented years doing the work. 

    16. Audio Transcription

    Videos and podcasts need audio transcription. In fact, people watch 85% of videos posted on Facebook without sound. Audio transcription can be a lucrative career if you can think and type quickly. The pay is based on the total minutes of video/audio, so it is only lucrative if you’re fast.

    17. Writing

    Freelancing is one of the most lucrative ways to earn an income as a writer. Countless brands are investing in all sorts of content. 62% of businesses hire external talent to create content on their blogs or virtual magazines. If you want to be successful, it’s wise to select a niche where you can be most effective.

    18. Tutoring

    Do you have strong skills in a particular subject? If so, consider tutoring students of any level. You don’t have to be a qualified teacher, but clients usually expect some education or certification. Some third-party agencies already have a database filled with pupils looking to hire experts.

    19. Social Media Marketing

    With 3.8 billion users, social media certainly isn’t going away, and brands will never abandon this powerful channel. This skill is vital for all freelancers, even if you don’t offer it to your clients as a service, as you can use it to market yourself. 

    20. Independent Sales

    If you’re good at sales, some companies will hire you on a freelance basis to sell their products for commissions. You just have to find a company whose product works best with direct sales. 

    21. Video Production

    Not only does the web need lots of video content, but it also needs different kinds of video content. For instance, a YouTube video producer differs greatly from a TikTok or a Twitch stream producer. You could also specialize in product review videos, explainer videos, live production, and more.

    22. Audio Engineering

    Similar to video production, brands need skilled audio engineers to develop ads, produce podcasts, and more. Many audio engineers work alongside video producers.

    23. Illustration

    Clients hire illustrators to create unique graphics for their sites and social media pages rather than generic stock photos. There are also markets for illustrated ads, promotional materials, books, comics, print designs, and more – online and off. (Pro tip: Come up with your own style that stands out from other illustrators.)

    The Top Freelancing Soft Skills

    Freelancing skills

    As we said earlier, soft skills are hard to quantify but tremendously important. Soft skills affect your other skills and ultimately help you perform at a higher level. Mastering the following skills will improve your work output, make your life easier, and improve your relationships with your clients stronger.

    Communication

    Communication is an important skill no matter how you work, and freelancing is no exception. Your ability to communicate with your clients, vendors, and colleagues can make or break a successful freelance career. 

    It’s imperative in our technology-driven world, where communication often occurs through text. If your communication skills are poor, your clients and colleagues may misinterpret your meaning, which could lead to poor relationships. But if you can articulate what you mean, your clients and colleagues will appreciate the clarity and simplicity of communicating with you.

    Whenever you write, ask yourself two questions: 1) Am I as clear as I could be? 2) Am I as concise as I could be? Remember that good communication doesn’t always mean burdening your contacts with a lot of information. Sometimes, being clear means stripping out unnecessary details.

    The best communicators are proactive. They anticipate what their clients need before they ask. Good communication also means keeping your client updated and providing transparency, so they don’t feel abandoned. It also means making you and your clients’ tasks, expectations, and deadlines crystal clear. 

    A quick technique to improve your communication is to use more video. Body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are key parts of the language. If your clients can see you, there’s a better chance your message will come across more clearly. With tools like Cloud App, Droplr, and Loom, you can make quick videos from your browser.  

    Problem Solving

    One of the main advantages of freelancing is the autonomy it provides. But this autonomy comes with a price: You must figure things out for yourself when you work alone. You need to be able to find solutions and answer difficult questions independently. 

    No client wants to work with a freelancer who says, “Sorry, I can’t figure it out.” After all, they hired you to make their life easier. If you give up on challenges, why would they stick with you?

    For instance, suppose a client asks for a service you have never provided. It’s good money and a great For instance, suppose a client asks for a service you have never provided. It’s good money and a great way to satisfy a client, but you will need to figure out how to meet the client’s needs on your own. You may need to learn a new skill quickly, consult with other freelancers who provide similar services or practice with a new tool. (Important point: Promising to deliver something without the appropriate skills or experience may be unethical. Just make sure your client understands your skill level.)

    Good problem solvers are also decisive. They make a plan and then execute it. They accept that it won’t be perfect, but they are willing to make mistakes and then correct them. They don’t allow failure to deter them from solving the problem. 

    If you become known for problem-solving, people will gravitate toward you. They will see you as someone reliable who they feel safe working with because they know you always figure out how to get the job done.

    Accepting Criticism

    Accepting criticism is one of the hardest soft skills to learn, but it has the tremendous potential to improve your skills, the services you provide, and your relationships with your clients. As a freelancer, you need the emotional maturity to incorporate feedback from your clients and your peers to make yourself better at whatever you do. If you can train yourself to think objectively about criticism, you can use that information to become stronger.

    Most importantly, accepting criticism means separating the feedback from the sting of being critiqued. Some feedback may hurt to hear, but you can’t take it personally. You have to recognize it as wisdom and be thankful to the critic for helping you become better. Ultimately, this is an exercise in self-control.

    Teamwork/Collaboration

    As a freelancer, you probably spend a lot of time working alone. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore team working skills. You need the ability to work well with your clients and the people on your clients’ teams. You will become exponentially more valuable to your clients if they know you can slot into their team and work effectively from the get-go. 

    Teamwork is more than just meeting deadlines and sending off notifications. It means generating ideas together, distributing tasks, and supporting other people. Sometimes it means pitching in a little extra to get the job done. If people see you as a strong team player, they’ll undoubtedly want to work with you again in the future. 

    Proactivity and Work ethic

    The best freelancers take the initiative, work ahead, think about the future, and know how to get the job done. They don’t wait until the last minute or look for ways to cut corners. They know they have to work to produce results for their clients. 

    Think of it like this: Every problem you encounter comes with a cost. The cost is usually time, but sometimes there’s a monetary penalty. If you are proactive, you will encounter problems sooner, which gives you more time to deal with them. For example, sometimes a project takes longer than anticipated, but you don’t learn this until you are deep into it. If you work proactively, you will identify this obstacle earlier, giving yourself time to either a) notify the client about the delay or b) manage your time to overcome it.

    Time Management

    Of all of the soft skills on this list, good time management can have the greatest impact on your income. 

    Time management is your ability to stay on schedule and meet your deadlines. It’s your ability to estimate how long jobs will take correctly. You also have to plan for the inevitable disruptions that force work to take longer than it should.

    Let’s say a client wants you to build a website. To give the client an accurate quote that compensates you apLet’s say a client wants you to build a website. To give the client an accurate quote that compensates you appropriately for your work, you need a very clear idea of how long it will take to build that site. If you estimate too low, you won’t be paid enough. If you estimate too high, you might lose the job/project.

    Fortunately, this is one of the soft skills you can measure, at least to a degree. You can track your time to uFortunately, this is one of the soft skills you can measure with very little effort, especially with the right tool that can do the majority of the work for you. You can track your time and view a detailed report to understand the real-time cost of your work. Armed with that information, you can take steps to improve your time management.

    For instance, suppose you were to use time tracking software like Timing to automatically track your time (without starting or stopping timers). You might notice that your “30-minute meetings” tend to last about 45 minutes. An extra 15 minutes isn’t a significant problem, but they add up over time. Knowing this, you might find ways to shorten your meetings or simply leave 45 minutes for each in your schedule. Either approach is better for time management. 

    Freelancing skills

    Furthermore, Timing can give you a detailed overview of how you spend your time, like how long you spend writing code versus writing documentation or how long you spend editing videos versus searching for stock footage. These valuable insights can help you gauge whether you’re spending your time as productively as possible. 

    Freelancing skills

    Timing is a powerful way to boost your time management. Keep focusing on your work while Timing records your time automatically, then review your time when you want. Download a free 30-day trial today.

    Empathy

    This skill is undeniably the softest of the soft skills you need to be a successful freelancer. It’s hard to define, but it has an impact on all of your other skills.

    Empathy refers to your ability to understand other people’s feelings and motivations. If you can put yourself in their position, you’ll be in a better spot to understand their needs, fears, goals, ambitions, pains, and desires. Sometimes your clients can’t or won’t tell you exactly what they need, but if you can empathize, you can find better ways to serve them.

    For instance, let’s say you’re a speechwriter and a client has hired you to prepare some remarks for when they accept an award. You can tell the client is nervous about speaking in public, so you include some notes along with the speech to help them relax and perform better. The client never asked for that help, but they would undoubtedly be grateful. That’s an example of how empathy makes your work more valuable.

    Grow Your Skills and Your Career

    Now that we’ve explained the top hard and soft frequency skills, your next step is to ask yourself how you can develop your abilities. Choose the hard skills that make the most sense for your career, but find ways to improve all of the soft skills on our list, as well. If you make yourself a stronger freelancer, it won’t be long before you can use these skills to secure higher-paying clients and more satisfying projects.

  • 10 Ways to Improve Poor Time Management

    Poor time management is detrimental to productivity and brings more stress to work. It is proven to affect work-life balance and relationships with colleagues. Statistics show that the average person tries to solve this problem using 13 different time management methods.

    Timing, our automatic time tracking tool for macOS users, helps you overcome this issue. It records your time down to the second and helps you become more productive and efficient. 

    With Timing, you get reports on your activities which allow you to identify distractions and take measures to improve your time management. To start tracking your time automatically, without having to remember to start and stop timers manually, download Timing today and use a 30-day free trial to test all features.

    Today we will discuss the signs that tell if you fall victim to common time management mistakes. We will also give you ten tips to fix these issues, become more productive and efficient, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.

    We will also explain how time tracking helps identify time management problems and provides data-based insights on potential improvements. Finally, we will present nine ways Timing enables you to combat poor time management.

    Before we share our ten tips to improve your time management, let’s explain why that is important.

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  • 10 Ways to Overcome Time Anxiety Using Time Tracking

    Modern-day urban life can be hectic. Millions of people are constantly busy and always in a hurry. They race against time, which can have long-term effects on their physical and mental health.

    A typical response to this situation is to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and worried that there is not enough time for what we want to do. It is called time anxiety, affecting more or less everyone juggling multiple professional and personal activities.

    Good time management is an antidote to time anxiety. To manage your time, you must first understand how you spend it throughout the day. Automatic time tracking tools, such as our Timing for macOS users, provide detailed reports of your activities. With Timing, you don’t have to remember to start, pause or stop timers since it records your time automatically. 

    You can track time to the second and use the recorded data to identify distractions and productivity issues in your daily work. Timing helps you understand where your time goes and gives you complete control over the deep-level data you can’t gather with manual time tracking. What’s best, you can download Timing and start a 30-day free trial today.

    In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons for time anxiety and how it affects your mental health. We’ll also explain how time tracking helps you overcome time anxiety and focus on meaningful activities. Before we share our tips for overcoming time anxiety, let’s define what it is.

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  • Freelancing Red Flags: 16 Signs to Abandon That Problem Client

    Freelancing is more popular than ever, which means more people and businesses are using freelancers to meet their needs. It’s a tremendous time to be a freelancer as nearly every industry is embracing this work model, especially since the pandemic.

    But while many of your client relationships are healthy, productive, and lucrative, some just aren’t worth the trouble. As a freelancer, it’s smart to identify your problem clients and abandon them quickly. The sooner you call it quits with a bad client, the sooner you can start working with a good one. 

    How do you predict if a client will be a problem? By looking out for red flags that indicate the arrangement won’t be pleasant for you. This article lays out the top freelancing red flags and what to do if you spot them.

    As a freelancer, it's wise to identify your problem clients and abandon them quickly. Click To Tweet

    The Top Freelancing Red Flags

    Before we jump into our warnings, remember that most clients are wonderful. We don’t want to make it seem like you’ll be abused daily as a freelancer. You won’t find yourself dodging a minefield of terrible clients. 

    With that said, not all clients are right for you. It’s important to protect yourself by identifying bad clients before you build a deep relationship with them. Our goal is to help you identify clients that will make your life tough so that you can focus on the clients that matter the most. Here are the top freelancing red flags. 

    1. They Ask for Free Work Often

    You might be friendly with your clients, but it’s still a business relationship. You deserve compensation for your labor. Good clients know this. They want to compensate you for your work because they know that’s how they get your best effort. This is especially true if they expect a long-term relationship with you.

    At the beginning of the client relationship, make it absolutely clear that you expect payment for your work. You can do this by setting clear project or service deliverables and establishing a per-hour rate for any out-of-scope work. (Use time tracking software like Timing to automatically calculate your time so you can bill accurately.)

    Most importantly, don’t work for free. If a client asks for something extra, clarify that you’re happy to help and will put it on their next invoice. If they protest, explain that you don’t work for free just like they don’t. And then start looking to replace them as a client. 

    2. They Ask for Free Samples

    Freelancing red flags

    Some clients ask for free samples of your work to help them decide if you’re the right person to hire. You may think this is justified to get the job (especially if you need the work), but many unscrupulous clients will decline your service and then use your work anyway. This practice is a blatant copyright violation, but you may not have the resources to resolve it through a lawsuit.

    If a client asks for a free sample, politely decline. Let them know that your portfolio accurately represents your skill and expertise. If they claim that your portfolio isn’t sufficient, consider improving it, but you still shouldn’t work for free.

    3. They Expect Constant Availability

    One of the reasons you began freelancing may be the freedom it provides. You want flexible hours and a schedule that fits your life. You probably have several clients, too, so your time is divided across them all.

    Unfortunately, some clients expect you to be available at all times. They send an email and expect a reply within a few minutes. They expand the scopes of projects and expect you to deliver on the same deadline. They do not tolerate your other obligations. The worst offenders will send emails or call you at outrageous hours of the day, like 11 PM, and expect an immediate response. 

    The best way to avoid this situation is to spell out your availability in your contract. Determine a reasonable response time for their questions and comments. Give them access to a few ways to communicate with you. That said, once you set these boundaries, you must do your part by replying and meeting your deadlines. 

    4. They Don’t Pay On Time

    Freelancing red flags

    You would think that this freelancing red flag would be obvious, but it’s surprising how many freelancers will continue to work for clients who don’t pay on time. Good clients want you compensated so you continue to perform good work and help them meet their goals. If a client doesn’t pay on time, they don’t respect you and your work.

    Define your payment terms clearly at the beginning of any new client relationship. If possible, collect a partial payment before you start work. Don’t be afraid to enforce those terms if it seems like a client is slow to pay. And if a client is habitually late with payments, fire them quickly.

    5. They Expect Unlimited Revisions

    You should expect a few revisions whenever you submit work to a client. If the assignment was clear and your work is good, there shouldn’t be many revisions, but some are usually necessary. Your agreement with your client might even guarantee a specific number.

    Bad clients will expect you to perform an unlimited number of revisions. They will pick apart your work and demand numerous little changes. In the worst cases, they will ask for so many changes that the project no longer resembles its original form.

    If you charge by the project, each revision represents lost income. If you charge by the hour, you can get paid for the time you spend revising, but an endless list of changes can disrupt your schedule and prevent you from working for other clients. In either case, it’s essential to stick to the number of revisions defined in your contract. If your client can’t accept that, you may need to fire them.

    6. They Refuse to Sign a Contract

    A quintessential piece of freelancing advice is to have every client sign a contract at the beginning of the relationship. The contract is where you define all of the parameters of the relationship to avoid confusion. That said, many freelancers are comfortable working without a contract. If you fall into that group, that’s fine; just understand that you are missing out on a key piece of protection.

    If you decide to use a contract, be wary of any client who refuses to sign it. It’s OK if they have some objections to the contract’s provisions and want some changes. Everything is negotiable, including the price. But if they flat out refuse to sign anything, consider that a serious red flag. It may mean they intend to violate your agreement and don’t want a paper trail.

    7. They Require an Unusual Payment Method

    To succeed, it’s wise to give your clients plenty of convenient ways to pay your invoice. People are more likely to work with you if you make the process convenient. Doing this is important to ensure that you get paid quickly and reliably.

    Sometimes, however, a client is only able or willing to pay one way. They might use a complicated system that takes months to process the payment or insist on using an obscure payment platform that burdens you with excessive fees. For example, a large corporate client may require you to go through their long accounts payable process and use their vendor’s bill pay system.

    You’ll have to make a judgment call here. In some cases, it may be worth your time to put up with these obstacles. But in other cases, you may find it’s just not worth the effort.

    8. They Try to Micromanage You

    Freelancing red flags

    Some clients may view you like a traditional employee, thinking they have the right to manage every moment of your time while you work for them. They may want you to work on their premises, share your screen with them while you work, or make other unreasonable demands in an attempt to study your every move.

    Sadly, these demands aren’t just annoying. They can stifle your creativity and waste more time, which forces you to bill the client for extra hours. Explain politely that your freedom and privacy are essential so they won’t manage you so closely. 

    However, it may help to offer your clients a timesheet of your hours spent on their projects. With Timing, you can organize your work by client or project, and then produce a timesheet that shows exactly how you spent your time. 

    9. They Don’t Understand What You Do

    Obviously, your clients won’t know how to do your job. That’s why they’re hiring you. But they should have a general idea of how you work, what you’ll achieve, and how you bring value to the table. If they don’t understand, there’s little chance they’ll appreciate you as a freelancer. They will probably see you as only an expense, instead of an investment which recognizes the value you bring to their business.

    For instance, let’s say you are a social media content creator. You craft copy, images, and videos that drive engagement on social media. If a client says, “anyone can make social media posts,” it means they don’t understand your expertise. They view you as simple labor, not an expert value-adder. Ultimately, this relationship wouldn’t last long.

    10. They Offer a One-Sided Contract

    Freelancing red flags

    Ideally, it’s best to be the author of any contract you ask a client to sign. Depending on their feedback and request, you can customize the contract, but it should be your document. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, especially with large corporate clients bound by in-house policies.

    If you use a client-provided contract, make sure that it is not one-sided. Contracts should be balanced to protect the interests of both parties. If a client wants you to sign a contract that gives them all of the protection and you all of the responsibility, it’s a good idea to ask for revisions or reject the client entirely.

    Here are some examples of unreasonable provisions that clients sometimes try to include in contracts:

    • If you decide to sue the client, you must do so in the client’s jurisdiction.
    • If you sue the client, you must pay the client’s legal expenses.
    • The client may exit the agreement at any time without notice, but you must provide several months’ notice. 
    • If you exit the agreement, you must pay the client’s expenses as they search for a new freelancer.
    • You may not work with any clients in the same industry for the duration of the agreement plus X months after.

    11. They Constantly Complain About Cost

    Your prices aren’t arbitrary. You set them based on your costs and the value of your work. If a client complains about your fee multiple times, it means either they won’t pay, it will be difficult to get them to pay, or they don’t see the value in your work.

    You may have a contract, but contracts require time and money to enforce. If you have any reason to think a client won’t pay, it’s almost always best to walk away before performing any work for them. It also helps to ask for a deposit or charge a monthly retainer, so you are always compensated.

    Should you lower your prices? That’s a judgment call. On the one hand, you should never undervalue yourself. On the other hand, a slight discount might be reasonable if it leads to a lot of work. But whatever you do, don’t reduce your rate on the promise of future work. Get it in your contract.

    12. “This Shouldn’t Take Long” or “This Won’t Be Hard”

    This red flag comes in a variety of other forms, such as, “This should be easy” or “I bet you can do this in one day.” You are the only person who can accurately estimate how long something will take or how difficult it will be. Why do some clients do this? To prime you to charge less. If they set an expectation that a job only takes one day, you might reduce your fee or bill for eight hours when it really took 12. 

    Never – absolutely never – use a client’s time estimate to quote a project. What they think will take 15 hours might take 40, meaning you get paid a lot less. Instead, use your experience and consult your time tracking logs to learn how long similar projects took to complete. 

    Time tracking software is a great way to reassure your clients about your time spent working. Timing automatically tracks your work so you can reproduce what you worked on at any given time. Timing produces timesheets you can trust, even when you forget to start a timer.

    13. They’ve Run Through Several Freelancers

    If a potential client has burned through several freelancers like you in a short time, it may indicate that the client is doing something to chase people away. Maybe they have unreasonable expectations, maybe they fail to pay in a timely manner, or maybe they exhibit other red flags on this list.

    Ideally, it would be best if you could speak with some of these past freelancers to learn more about the client. If they speak poorly about the client, you may decide to pass on the opportunity rather than become another fired freelancer.

    14. They Want to Pay in “Exposure”

    Exposure is a bit of a meme in the freelance community, but it’s definitely a real issue. Some clients offer exposure to new audiences or potential clients in lieu of payment. These offers are almost always worthless because the client’s exposure won’t impact your business. Truthfully, they’re just trying to get free or cheap work out of you.

    Does this mean all exposure is bad? Definitely not. If you accept some form of exposure as payment, ensure you understand exactly what you’re getting. Does it actually open you to potential customers? Can you communicate with them? What are the odds of actually closing a deal?

    15. The CEO/Founder Needs to Approve Everything

    Freelancing red flags

    As a contractor, it’s best to work closely with the person who has decision-making authority. If you build websites, you should work with the person who has the power to green-light the site and make decisions. You may work with other team members, but you need a line of communication with the decision-maker. 

    If everything you do has to be run up the chain to someone you can’t access, you will undoubtedly suffer delays that could lead to slow projects and untimely payments. Furthermore, this person will usually insert comments or request changes you’ve already addressed with their team. It could also mean dysfunction in the lower ranks that the CEO/founder/director needs to pin down. 

    16. You Don’t Enjoy Working With the Client

    This one seems simple, but many freelancers continue to work with unpleasant clients because they fear moving on. But working with a client you don’t like will only create stress and a headache for you in the long term.

    Look at it this way: You’re a freelancer because you love the freedom, including the freedom to choose for whom you work. If you had a traditional job, you wouldn’t get to pick your manager. But as a freelancer, there are countless pleasant clients out there.

    If you don’t like a client – for any reason – don’t be afraid to move on. You can fire them immediately or wait until you replace that income with a new client. You have a lot of freedom at your fingertips; you just have to use it. 

    When to Keep a Client:

    Just because a client exhibits one or several of these red flags doesn’t necessarily mean you should fire them immediately. There are plenty of situations where it may be better to stick with a client even if they aren’t ideal.

    For instance, a client may be unaware that their behavior is inappropriate. Perhaps they don’t have much experience working with freelancers. In cases like this, educating the client about their behavior and why you can’t tolerate it might be worth your time. If you show a bit of patience, you may turn a problem client into a long and healthy relationship.

    The size of the project could be another factor as well. A big project that drastically improves your salary might be worth putting up with a client’s inconveniences, especially if their infractions are minor. You could also ask for compensation to tolerate one of these red flags. For instance, you may decide to accept a client’s unusual payment terms and exchange for increasing the project cost by 5%. Everything is negotiable, after all.

    How to End a Relationship with a Client

    If you decide it’s time to abandon a problem client, your first step is to discuss your concerns with the client. Be honest about your needs and why you don’t think the relationship will work. Don’t be afraid to be candid and direct here. You’re prepared to lose the client, so there’s no sense in holding back. 

    That said, be kind and professional throughout this conversation. There’s no need to insult the client (even if you feel insulted by their behavior). You can still end the relationship positively, even if you decide the relationship isn’t suitable. 

    Next, complete any outstanding projects to which you’ve already committed. You may dread working with the client, but meeting your obligations is still professional. If you work for the client on an ongoing basis, give reasonable notice (e.g. “I’ll continue to maintain your website for three weeks.”) You should only abandon outstanding work if you find yourself in financial, legal, or personal jeopardy, or if the client’s behavior is so egregious that working together has become pointless. 

    Finally, try to find a replacement for the client if you can. Tap into your network of similar freelancers to find someone who may suit their needs better. Oversee the transition, so the new freelancer gets up to speed quickly. 

    Key Takeaway

    Please don’t let our red flags scare you! They will help you spot bad clients before you suffer their inconvenience, but remember that most clients are great. You can use this advice to protect yourself, but you should still freelance enthusiastically and positively.

    Want an easy way to keep your client relationships healthy? Track your time with Timing. It automatically records your time, so your timesheets are always accurate. Your clients will love honesty and transparency. Download Timing for a free 30-day trial.

  • Top Five Time Tracking Software for Architects

    time tracking software for architects

    Image source: energepic.com

    Architects have a strong need for accurate time tracking software. Many freelance architects and architectural firms charge by the hour. However, their hourly rate is only one side of the equation. Architects also need a reliable record of billable hours to manage project costs and invoice their clients accurately.

    As an architect, you need an automatic time tracking tool that is either part of your project management software or a standalone solution that you can integrate with your toolset to keep your projects moving forward.

    A time tracking app, such as our Timing for macOS, can help you create more accurate timesheets through automation. Timing does not require manual time logging or entries. Instead, it automatically tracks how much time you spend on each app, document, and website. This means you always know how much time you spend on work-related activities, allowing you to concentrate on your most important tasks. 

    Timing also has you covered with a web app you can use on your mobile iOS or Android device. It lets you start and stop timers manually during your offline meetings, site visits, and when you’re generally out of the office. You can check our website to learn more or download Timing to start your 30-day free trial and see how it works.

    In this article, we will discuss the benefits of automatic time tracking software for architects and shortlist the top five timekeeping apps you can use to get a more accurate picture of how you spend your workday.

    Before we start with our top picks, let’s dive into why architects need reliable time tracking tools.

    Read More…

  • Attorney Time Tracking: 5 Best Tools to Measure the Value of Your Work

    attorney time tracking

    Image source: Mateus Campos Felipe

    Attorney time tracking is one of the most important administrative tasks in a law practice. With most attorneys charging an hourly rate, precise tracking of work-related activities presents a challenge since your income depends on timekeeping. The more reliable your time tracking app is, the more accurate your billing will be.

    Ironically, both timekeeping and billing are administrative tasks. The time you spend on them is not case-related, making it non-billable. However, you can’t skip it because your revenue depends on it. That’s why attorneys need reliable time tracking tools that provide detailed reports on how they spend their workdays.

    With Timing, our automatic time tracking tool for macOS users, you will never worry about tracking the time you spend on work-related activities. Since Timing records your time automatically, you won’t have to remember to start and stop timers yourself. You can focus and work without distraction.  Timing also provides detailed reports and gives you complete control over the deep-level data, which is impossible to gather with manual time tracking.

    Using Timing reports saves time and increases accuracy when billing your clients, ensuring that no time is accidentally left unbilled. It helps you gain clients’ trust and improve your reputation. You can download our app and start your 30-day free trial to see how Timing works.

    In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of time tracking software for lawyers. We’ll outline the must-have features and how they help with the daily timekeeping challenges. Finally, we’ll list the five best lawyer time tracking tools and discuss each tool’s pros and cons.

    Before we get to the top five, let’s start with attorneys’ common timekeeping challenges.

    Read More…

  • Should You Call Yourself a Freelancer? Why Your Title Might Be Holding You Back

    Should you call yourself a freelancer

    The words you use to describe yourself matter. Words affect your personal brand. They influence people’s perception of you, especially when a few words is all they know about you. If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to be thoughtful with the words you use to describe yourself and your work. 

    The words we speak aloud can even affect our own brains. Simply introducing yourself to a client can change the way you view yourself. If you refer to yourself as an experienced professional, eventually, you will start to think of yourself as such. But if you refer to yourself as an amateur or newbie, that’s exactly what you’ll be. 

    Self-perception is important because words can influence your own mood and behavior. Having repetitive negative thoughts can activate the brain’s fear center. If you think of yourself as an imposter who lacks control over their work and career, you’ll present that message to clients and prospects through your behavior and language. 

    Your title is one of the first pieces of information that prospective clients learn about you. It should tell clients who you are and how you can help them. This begs the question: Are you introducing yourself properly? Does it make sense to call yourself a “freelancer,” or is there a different way to set the stage for client relationships?

    In this article, we help you understand whether it makes sense to call yourself a freelancer or if a different term is more suitable for your career.

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  • Why (and How) You Should Schedule Time For Your Relationship

    Time tracking is for work… right? Think again. While it might seem unromantic to schedule time with your significant other, it can actually be the opposite.

    Do you remember the early days of your relationship, when you would move earth and heaven to make a date work? It didn’t matter if you were tired from work, just back from a trip, or had something else that mysteriously ‘just happened’ to get rescheduled, if you were really excited about someone you would make time to see them. What about now? Do you still make time for your partner?

    As February is the month of Valentine’s, it’s a good excuse to think about your lovelife — whether you subscribe to the idea of Valentine’s Day or not. Regardless if you’ve been together six months, a year, or married for ten, chances are you’ve fallen into a rut or five. Particularly if you live together, chances are you’re spending a lot of time in each other’s company without actually being together. Overtime, this will naturally lead to dissatisfaction in and the breakdown of your relationship.

    Aside from not wanting to lose your loved one, why is it important to work on being happy and present in a relationship? Well, studies show that when you’re in a fulfilling relationship, everything in life is better — from your performance at work to your cardiac health. We’ve come up with five different ways you can schedule time in your relationship, for a happier relationship and happier life.

    Read More…

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