Creative people, in today’s world, can oftentimes make a living on their artistic or other creative skills. This has made it possible for a lot of people with such skills to work as freelancers. While creative people sometimes balk at the idea of very precisely managing their time, there are real benefits, and they’re not just about business.
When It’s Not Working
In any creative project, there will be elements that are planned to be a part of it but that turn out not to work as anticipated in execution. For example, an element of a piece of digital artwork being made under contract may turn out to be inordinately difficult to get done and, because of that, it may inflate the hours involved. If the project is more complex, such as a video shoot or an audio production job, there are even more opportunities for these problems to manifest.
Knowing when one part of a creative project is taking up way too much time is vital for creative people. If something minor is driving the time frame of the project much higher than it was initially, it may be time to abandon that part of the project altogether.
Having figures to look at to make that determination is helpful, indeed. It allows a freelancer to let their client know that part of a project is going to take a very long time to complete and, because of that, they may want to shift the budget somewhere else or think of a new idea that is less complex or difficult.
Creative people sometimes have a hard time with the numbers end of business. Unfortunately, numbers are the most important parts of a business where getting paid is concerned.
In order to get paid fairly, a freelancer has to be able to present an accurate time sheet to their clients, if they work hourly. Time tracking software allows such individuals to keep track of their time to the second. When they’re asked how long something took to complete, they can just share that information. This makes it a lot easier to explain why a project took as long as it did, if it went over budget.
By having each task involved documented, it’s easy for a client to see why the project may have cost more than estimated. It gives the client something solid to look at and, because of that, it’s much easier for them to cut a check for the hours invested.
Essentially, the last thing a freelancer should want to do is explain why their bill is higher than estimated based on vague explanations. Having numbers to back it up really helps.
It also helps in another way.
How Long Will This Take?
Some projects that creative freelancers do will be billed out as piecework with a deadline. For instance, a freelancer may have to create a logo for a business by a certain date. How much time it takes is really irrelevant.
When bidding on projects like these, it’s vital to understand the true cost of the project. Bid too high and the client will find another vendor. Bill to low and the contractor ends up working for free.
With time tracking software, each project a freelancer does can be documented for their own use. If they know, for instance, that creating a text logo took them 8 hours on average based on previous jobs, they know to bid for roughly 8 hours of their time if they get a chance to get a similar job in the future.
There’s no sense being a freelancer if it doesn’t pay well. With time tracking software, you can bill for your time accurately from the start, which ensures that your paychecks are commensurate with the amount of work that you do on flat-rate projects.
Time tracking software also helps when you want to go back and see where you need to improve your overall levels of efficiency. If you notice that one particular aspect of your job typically takes you a long time, it may be a sign that you need to improve the tools you use to do that job or that you need to train up with more skills. This can make you leaner, faster and more efficient as a contractor, which helps to drive business your way.
You can also see when you’re the most productive, which is important for freelancers. When you set the office hours, it makes sense to set them at those times when you get the most work done and to enjoy not having to clock in when you wouldn’t be getting much done, anyway.
Some creative people work much better on a schedule other than the office schedule. They may, for instance, get a lot done in the early evening. If this is the case, looking back at completed projects will make that readily apparent. This allows freelancers to shift their work hours around based on solid information rather than a vague idea of when they get the most done. If you can print out a timesheet and see where you’re really getting a lot done, it can be very useful for your business.
Find the Time
One of the things that sometimes makes it hard for people to adopt a new technology, even a useful one, is the idea that there will be a steep learning curve involved. Time tracking software doesn’t have to be complex to learn or use and, in fact, it’s usually not much different than using software that people use for most anything else these days. Making outlines, reports, clocking in and out and other tasks are handled very easy by anyone and a great degree of technical savvy is most certainly not required.
One of the best things about being a freelancer is getting away from the hyper-structured world of corporations. Complete chaos, however, is never an improvement. Good software can allow freelancers to track, and therefore better organize, their time.