Freelancers tend to always be on call. At least the newbies.
When my friend first started freelancing she told me it felt as if she worked for Wall Street in the old days, and she walked in the middle of the floor, with all the experience people around her, screaming, yelling, shouting numbers and words!
She knew that if she wanted to stand a chance in a pool that appears filled with fish, she had to learn to hang around when everyone else is gone.
So she made herself available 24/7. It helped in the beginning, and she started receiving projects because she was always ‘on’ and ready.
Never said no, never forgot to take her phone with her, and she was always on the grid! Six months later, she was exhausted, confused and angry.
She told me she thought that freelancing would free her from the daily grind, and that she would set her own hours and take charge of her routine.
So our first writer’s tip after speaking with many freelancers would be to perhaps start out by being always available because it is how you will differentiate yourself. However, start to gradually move your projects and tasks on a set schedule. We will explore how this is done more practically later in the article.
Let’s examine some important things to keep in mind.
1. Clients and Their Expectations
If you are new in the freelance industry, you will soon realize that most clients you take on think you are working just for them.
Generally, clients think of freelancers as people who are sitting at home, and if we are sitting at home we should have plenty of time, which means we should be able to cater to their needs 24/7 right?
Once you begin maturing in the industry it is best to clearly communicate your policies and work guidelines with your clients to avoid exhaustion and frustration.
So we put together a few writer’s tips to help you navigate away from chaos.
2. Freelancing Writer’s Tip for Newbies
As already mentioned before, it is ok to be available most of the time, as this will help you begin getting some traction with projects. But once you feel you have a small portfolio and some experience to stand on, begin switching gears.
3. Set Working Hours
You will soon start graving free time, your favorite shows or simply empty days with no deadlines.
You see, the point of being a freelancer, for most of us at least, is the freedom and flexibility.
But this freedom and flexibility comes with structure. I know, an oxymoron right?
You will need to transition clients that have been with you since the beginning and are used to your 24/7 schedule. A simple, professional email, stating your working hours should be sent out, while kindly explaining that the transition will not affect the delivery time of their projects.
You will need to communicate your ‘availability’ to your new clients right from the start. They do not care about when you work, they just want to make sure their deadlines are met.
Which brings us to our next point of you actually being able to set working hours for yourself.
Do not think of setting working hours meaning that you are placing yourself in a 9-5 routine (It is what you tried to escape from in the first place right)?
Think of the freelancing lifestyle as having some structure because it will help you to manage your time better and be more productive. Do not forget you are still free to make changes to your schedule if something comes up, or you want to take time off.
It is still everything you wanted, but you are placing some structure to allow you to be more organized, disciplined and productive.
Set a time to check emails and respond and then stop for the day. Do not constantly be attached to your phone or computer.
Another great writer’s tip is to set up an autoresponder so your clients know that their email is in your inbox and that you will tend to it shortly.
4. Develop your Own Rules and Policies
You are now your own boss!
This is the dream for most of us.
To succeed in everything, we all need to develop our personal and professional policies.
These need to be communicated clearly to your clients. If done correctly, then everyone is happy.
For example, if you do set up an autoresponder, a good message to include is ‘I just received your email, I am currently in a meeting and I will make sure to respond within the next 24 hours’.
People respect that. They know what to expect and you look professional.
Also do not be afraid to set some rules regarding how many free revisions you are willing to do and what is the pricing for extra revisions.
Our last writer’s tip for this segment is to have a template that you can send out to new clients that collects information on their general expectations.
Such a template should ask them to give you information on guidelines regarding any affiliates they might want to promote, that style and tone do they prefer their content in etc.
But just like all things in life, with enough time and good communication, you will find your personal magic formulae and balance.