What to do When you get too much to do as a freelancer

If you are running your own small little freelancing business and start getting lots of work - more than you can handle by yourself - you are probably thinking about your options.

I’ve been there. When I started my company in 2003 I started to build a reputation locally, and after a while I got more and more customers to handle. If I had been in the same situation now (starting out with no employees) I would have considered the following two options first:

1. Outsource part of the work

If you can find someone local that can help you out with finishing some of your projects that can be a perfect thing to solve your problems. Or you can get even more problems if the person you outsource is not performing as you’d expect. If you outsource you are giving up parts of your income to someone else, but the responsibility for the customer is still yours.

If you have the time and willingness to manage the project this can be a good option.

2. Refer the customer to somone else

This can actually be a good option.

I’m too busy right now and I don’t want to promise too much. Please talk to Karen Bell at KB Freelancing, she probably can help you out this time.

This works great because you are transferring all the responsibility to another freelancer, and you are still helping the client.

If you do this, make sure to negotiate a referral deal with the other freelancer. For new customer projects I normally expect to pay about 5-15% of the project fee to the firm who referred the customer.

3. Raise your rates

If you are working your butt off, make sure you are getting paid for it. If your regular hourly rate is $100 per hour, ask for $120 per hour when sending the next project proposal. If they say no, you already have too much to do anyway. If they say yes you know that you probably can ask most of your clients for a little bit more until you don’t get as many new projects as you used to do.

4. Book months in advance

As a freelancer it is worth much to know what you are doing for month’s in advance. If you are getting a lot of work, postpone some of it to later. Some customers won’t wait, but some will and the project may even be better planned if you give the customer some time to properly think through the project.

5. Hiring someone

If your calender is booked for the next 3-6 months with profitable work I would consider bringing an employee on. But not before that. Outsource beforing hiring your first employee and make sure you can handle the management part of running a business first.