Freelance business owners walk a lonely, often rocky road. An independent survey of freelancers conducted in 2020 found that even successful freelancers struggle to stick to regular schedules and maintain acceptable work-life balance.
This isn’t surprising. Freelancers like to think of themselves as their own bosses.
However, in reality, they have as many bosses (at least) as they have clients. Each of those mini-bosses works on a different schedule, has a different management style, and communicates in different ways. (If they communicate at all…experienced freelancers know this is not always a strong suit for clients.) Juggling all this is exhausting. More than that, it’s discouraging.
Frustrated with the grind, many freelancers burn out. As a result, many seek the relative predictability of traditional employment, even if it means giving up some earning potential. They want to keep freelancing but are having a hard time envisioning a happy path forward in balancing it all.
Others would love to grow their freelance business. However, many either don’t know where to start or can’t find the time and mental energy to scale. So they pull back, content to work with a manageable, comfortable set of core clients.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Maybe you sense burnout creeping in, extinguishing whatever joy you once found in your work.
Worse, it’s diminishing the quality of your output. Or perhaps you remain perfectly content as a freelancer, but unfulfilled. You’re always beating back that nagging sense you’re capable of doing (and earning) more.
The problem isn’t that you live off 1099s instead of W-2s. Nor that you’ve fallen out of love with your specialty and need to find a new line of work. More likely, it’s that you’re not managing your freelance business as efficiently as you could — and that inefficiency is preventing your business from becoming something more.
You need a tool that automates and streamlines the nitty-gritty details of freelancing, freeing you to focus on the creative work you do best and work toward the growth or income goals you’ve put off because you’re so busy with everything else.
Harlow is that tool. No, it can’t work miracles. However, it can significantly improve your efficiency and strategic discipline. Both of these are critical if you’re serious about scaling. Here’s how.
Proposal Templates (And Contracts) You Can Take Pride In
Feel like you barely have time to prospect for new clients, let alone put together thoughtful, attention-grabbing proposals to win them over? Harlow’s professionally designed proposal and contract templates make this time-consuming part of freelancing that much easier.
Find a template you like, customize it with your logo and brand colors, and save it for easy access whenever a new opportunity presents itself. No more time spent building branded proposals and contracts from scratch — or, worse, using plain text documents that scream “boring” and “anonymous.”
Harlow gives you the option to add e-signatures to your proposals as well. Whatever nostalgia you might feel for the old-fashioned “print, sign, scan, email” process, you have to admit e-signatures are faster and less error-prone.
You know that what your proposals and contracts say is just as important as how they look.
Especially your contracts. If a client relationship goes south — they delay or refuse payment, or threaten legal action over something you did or didn’t do — you need a contract that’s actually legitimate (and legally binding).
Harlow takes care of that for you. While they don’t provide legal representation, their contracts are written by legal professionals. No need to write your own legalese, which you have no business doing anyway unless you’re a freelance lawyer.
No need to worry, either, about whether the random freelance contract template you found online for free will actually protect you.
Fast, Organized Invoicing
One of the many advantages of freelancing is being able to dictate your payment terms. Not only how much you charge — if a client doesn’t want to pay your going rate, they can negotiate or end the relationship — but how frequently you get paid and by what method.
Maybe you’re a Stripe fan. Or a PayPal enthusiast. Perhaps you’re a credit card die-hard. Or, inexplicably, you prefer the crisp thwack of a paper check, mailed monthly to your P.O. box.
Whatever the case, you know it takes work to get paid. You have to generate a new invoice, fill it out with the client’s information and a description of services rendered and dollar values and all the rest, and send it off by email or snail mail or text.
Multiply this by however many clients you have and however many times you invoice per year and you’ve got what’s practically a part-time job as an invoice manager — an unpaid one at that.
Harlow’s invoicing suite uses pre-built invoices that you can custom-finish rather than start from scratch. You choose the frequency — one-off or recurring on your preferred schedule. You build in your preferred payment method. If you have clients in different countries, you can accept currencies other than U.S. dollars. And Harlow automates follow-up and payment logging, so you can focus on the next project while awaiting payment for the last.
Seamless Integration With the Rest of Your Digital Work Life
Calendar management (or lack thereof) holds countless freelancers back. Add in the multitude of apps the typical freelancer relies on to get work done and the whole thing can feel unworkable at times. Taking on more complex projects under these conditions is a nonstarter.
Harlow can’t make you better at managing your time; that’s still on you. But it does integrate with Google Workspace (the former GSuite) so you can spend less time toggling between your calendar, your client contact list, your invoices, and your to-do list.
The less time you spend running down this or that detail of your finances or meeting schedule, the more time you have to focus on finding new clients or expanding your relationship with existing ones.
Project and Task Management to Keep You on Track
Do you use a project or task management app to stay on top of your assignments and strategic objectives? Or do you just wing it, maybe updating handwritten or Google Doc-based to-do lists when you have a free second?
Either way — and especially in the second case — you’re probably spending too much time thinking about what you should be doing and not enough time actually doing it.
Harlow’s built-in project and task management tool is appropriate for simple, small-scale personal tasks (say, paying estimated taxes) and more complicated professional needs (mapping out milestones for a six-month project, for example). You can track time against any task right in the interface. This means you won’t lose out on billable work or fail to compute exactly how long you spent on essential non-billable stuff, like prospecting for new clients or onboarding your own contractors.
Get Serious About Scaling
If you’re a freelancer, that means you’re a business owner, even if you don’t feel like it. Which also means you’re already walking a path that only a small fraction of your peers dare to follow.
Yes, it’s risky, and it can be lonely and thankless. But it’s exhilarating and full of potential. With a few tweaks to your routine and the right tools to support your operation, you can turn that potential into reality, all the while growing the success of what you so bravely started.