We’ve established that I’m new to the world of freelancing, and yes, this is a whole new world to me. If you missed my first blog, check out my journey from full-time corporate marketer to Scottish History graduate student/freelancer for background. So, as a first-time freelancer who definitely does not overthink anything…kidding, questions about running my own business sometimes keep me up at night. Thankfully, Hectic provides a single platform for all of us freelancers looking to manage our book of business and learn helpful tips along the way. The intuitive platform led the way from adding my first client to submitting my first invoice. Just as Aladdin took Jasmine’s hand, let’s hop on the digital magic carpet and take a tour through this whole new world, just as I explored it. (Sorry, no sing-along for this one.)
If you’re like me, you learn best by doing and like to poke around a new software until you get the hang of it. Fortunately, Hectic is super intuitive and user-friendly, supporting my favorite learning method. But if you learn best by reading or demos, have no fear! Each component of the app has a dedicated demo that shows you how to use the feature step-by-step.
Feature: Clients and contracts
Landing my first client didn’t follow a neat outline. Actually, a previous employer reached out for some help with email marketing and I began discussions with them before signing up for Hectic (“Before Hectic” or B.H. as I like to refer to my timeline now). We completed most of the negotiations when I heard the scary phrase: “Why don’t you send over a contract this week, and we’ll go from there.” I internally panicked. A contract? I did take Business Law in college, but that class started at 8am and the only thing I really remember is that a napkin signed and dated could be contractually obligating. Terrifying.
I knew I needed some help creating a solid contract, so I signed up for Hectic right away and added my first client. Once that step was complete, I navigated to the Proposals tab with trepidation. Turns out my fears were unfounded. Once I clicked +New Proposal, the app led the way, and I filled out my client’s needs, proposed solutions and skills, and hourly rate. The most helpful part in building the proposal in Hectic came from the Payment and Legal Terms builder. This drop-down questionnaire allowed me to pick my terms like invoicing schedule, late payment fee and payment schedule, deposit information, and cancellation policy, and translate this into protective legalese on the contract. Once I felt comfortable with the terms I created, based on my conversations with the client and my own needs as a freelancer, I shared a finalized proposal with the client in one click. Once signed, the proposal became a fully executed contract and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I was legally protected on something more permanent than a napkin.
Feature: Project management and time tracking
With the client and contract in place, I was ready to work! Once I had my marching orders, I created specific projects in the client view for my own project management needs and time tracking. Coming from a salaried position for the last decade, I struggled with the best approach to time worked. As a new freelancer, I still struggle with structuring my day and often get distracted with life things – the dog needs to be taken out, we need groceries for dinner, I have a thought for a school assignment, etc. – my days can feel all over the place. Let me tell you, the time tracker is a game-changer for me! It’s easy to start the tracker, choose a client, choose a project, add some notes and let it go. If something comes up, then I just hit the stop button, attend to the need, and start the tracker again when I’m back. I’m learning how to create a daily freelance schedule that works for me and the time tracking feature gives me visibility into how much time I’m investing in certain projects. As a plus, I have peace of mind knowing that my time worked is accounted for, and if I need to pivot to something else important, I can. Isn’t that what freelancing is about? The flexibility and confidence to live each day as you need for the most fulfilling life.
I could gush about the time tracker all day, so we’ll reserve that for a different blog, but it does play an important role in the next feature for discussion: invoicing. There are so many ways to structure your payment terms and schedule, which is personal to you and your services and needs, but Hectic makes it easy. I bill monthly for one of my clients, and for the other, it’s bi-weekly. One prefers to pay via credit card or ACH, and the other needs to pay by check. All of these parameters are included in the client contract and automatically pull into a newly-created invoice. The first invoice I created was so easy! With the click of a button, I chose the client and pulled hours worked from the time tracker down to the minute. I integrated Stripe via Hectic for easy credit card payments, and within a few days, I had my first payment for time worked.
So far, I’ve explored client and project management, time tracking and invoicing, but over the next few months I will dive into more Hectic features including expenses, profit and loss analysis, and revenue trends, to make the most of my freelancing business.
Hectic has made my first few months as a freelancer easy and, dare I say, fun? I chose to freelance so I could finally be the leading character in my own story. Hectic has been there every step of the way, adding time back into my day and making sure that I can pursue the parts of life that make my eyes light up.
Here are some freelancing resources I’ve found helpful on this journey:
5 tips on how to pitch yourself as a freelancer:
How to negotiate as a freelancer
Know your value: How to set the right freelance rates without underpricing yourself