If there’s one bit of advice that gets chucked around a lot for freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s ‘be consistent’.
Be consistent with your social media posting.
Be consistent with sending emails.
Be consistent with pitching.
Be consistent with reaching out to previous clients.
Be consistent with doing your finances.
Be consistent about showing your face on video
Which is great. But also, not always possible.
We’re not robots. Consistency is great in theory, but in practice it’s not quite as simple. Things happen. Life happens. Whether that’s falling ill, struggling with motivation, tech letting us down, kids off school, or simply struggling with the boredom of consistency. As someone who is currently being assessed for ADHD, being neurodivergent adds a whole new layer of complications to consistency, especially when executive dysfunction kicks in.
Consistency can help you feel in control though, and consistently showing up online increases your chances of attracting new clients. So, how can we make it easier? I’ve got a few tips for you!
Do you find your more likely to do something if someone else is expecting it? I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, which looks at how we react to internal and external expectations. Below is how it works. The majority of freelancers I speak to end up being an Obliger (meets external expectations/resists internal expectations) or a Questioner (resists outer expectations/meets internal expectation as long as they understand WHY they have to do it). If you’re an Obliger, getting some accountability is a great way to get the job done. Whether that’s having a gym buddy or signing up for a personal trainer, or sharing in the Freelance Lifestylers group what you going to do to find a client this week (there’s a Wednesday thread for it!).
If you’re a Questioner, you need to get very clear on why you need to be consistent with something. It needs to have purpose. So ‘post on LinkedIn three times a week’ is great if you know that this is how you’ll get new clients and know you’ll see a pay off. But if you’re just posting because you think you ‘should’ or because other people are doing it, it’s far more likely you’ll fall off the wagon.
And if you want some 1-2-1 accountability, my Voxer support can do just that!
Find a finisher
One of my biggest struggles is finishing a project, double checking things and being detail-focused. Which is why I have Jo! For example, I have managed to be consistent about sending newsletters (initially once a week, now twice a week) for years now thanks to Jo. I write the content, send it to her, and she then checks it, formats it and scheduled it into Convertkit for me. It greatly reduces the steps for me, so all I need to do is create the content in a shared Google Drive doc.
I need to get back to outsourcing finishing for my podcast for the same reason – the number of steps editing etc adds to things puts me off doing it.
Is there a finisher task you can outsource? Maybe you’re comfortable writing social media content but would rather outsource the scheduling? Or you need a graphic designer to create graphics for your posts? Or need an accountant or bookkeeper to keep you on track with your accounts?
Body doubling, where you work in the presence of another person, has been a huge game changer for me in getting stuff done. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in person. For example, I use the deep work Zoom sessions in Flown (affil) to focus on jobs that I need accountability with. You share what you’re going to do, leave your cameras on and audio off, then crack on. Seeing those other people on camera stops me getting distracted by a game on my phone, watching TikToks or wandering off for a snack.
When it comes to housework, I might give my mum or sister a call to chat with while I clean up. Or even get my son to come chat to me as I tidy. Sometimes a podcast or audiobook will work too. I don’t know how it works. But it does.
Automate what you can
One of the things I touched on in the Find A Finisher suggestion above is reducing or outsourcing the steps something will take. This applies to automations too. I’ve always been a fan of apps, tools and workflows, and I’ve realised in the last year or so that it’s because it reduces the steps something will take, so I’m more likely to stay consistent.
A few examples:
- Automate your onboarding and meeting booking with tools like Calendly or Dubsado
- Edit your audio or video with tools like Descript, which transcribes the audio so you can edit the text (which saves so much time)
- Use an accounting tool like Freeagent, Xero or Freshbooks which makes doing your accounts so much easier (especially if they import your bank feed so you can quickly match up income and outgoings.
Give yourself a menu of options
Building choice into your consistency is a big hack to keeping things interesting! Just as going on a diet of cabbage soup every day would be horribly boring (and farty!), having the same tasks every week can get very dull. Give yourself flexibility and choice, with a menu of options to choose from (and a choice for if you’re feeling energetic or need something you can do with just a couple of taps on your phone.
It’s an approach I’ve used when finding clients, to choose three tasks from a list each week (it’s in my Finding Clients bundle). You can use it with your accounts (choose from update your expenses/invoices/reconcile transactions/timesheets). Or your social media (choose from an Instagram Story/Reel/Grid post/gif/question/poll/video/comment on other posts).
You also might want to create a Bones/No Bones list (bit more of an explanation here on this concept if you’re not familiar with the TikTok dog who has bones/energy or no bones/no energy days)
Are you a batcher or a daily/weekly type?
Another thing to think about, is are you more likely to stick to something daily, or batch a bunch each month to schedule ahead. This works best with content and social media, but you may also find it works better to have one afternoon a month to do all your finance work rather than daily or weekly. Or even with emails, would you work best if you blocked out time once a day to work on your emails, or just try and keep on top of them as you go?
Finally, be realistic! If you rarely post on social media at the moment, expecting yourself to do it 5 times a week might be unrealistic. Sometimes it’s better to start with a micro goal, say one post a week or pitching once a week, then build on that once the habit is cemented.