Respect yourself - Freelance series (3/3)

September 13, 2019

As a freelancer, it’s important that you respect yourself. It might be cliché to say but if you can’t respect yourself then how do you expect your clients to treat you.

In this third and final blog post that celebrates and recaps my first year working as a freelancer in the e-learning industry. I’m going to share some ways that you can better respect yourself. Whether it’s techniques to deal with stress, client relations or your physical and mental health.

In case you missed them here are the previous posts in this series:

Learn to say no to clients

When you start freelancing it’s easy to jump at any opportunity for work that may arise. But it’s very important to quickly create some criteria for whom you will and won’t work with. The reality is that some people see freelancers especially those who are inexperienced or undifferentiated as a source of cheap labour. Don't let yourself be pushed around by these people. You should also be upfront about asking your client about their budget so you can tell if they are able to work with you.

Having a contact form on your website where you can get your potential clients to fill in some extra information is a useful way to start filtering if they will be worth your time. If they’ve written a lot here they’ve clearly already qualified you as being the person they want to work with. If you’re interested in finding more about this subject this blog post is useful.

You should be looking for clients that already have a good idea of the work you do and have a fairly well-scoped project or problem laid out that they think you are well suited to deliver or solve for them.

Set realistic deadlines and create boundaries

It’s very easy for when a client asks how long a project will take for you to give a precise number of days and promise to have the project delivered by that many days. But what happens if another client suddenly has an emergency and needs you to fix something or a client approaches you with a new project proposal or if you get sick?

I now make it clear to any client I work with that I can’t guarantee them more than 60-80% of my time. For my business to work I need time to spend on non-billing tasks and balancing my other client's demands too.

Having just a single client as a freelancer may be comforting as it means you don’t have to do any more marketing or write any more project proposals. But this is a double-edged sword, as once their work ends your ability to find your lack of marketing will mean it’s tricky to find the next client and you will be playing waiting for weeks for the next enquiry.

I would also recommend trying not to work more than 40 hours per week so you can have a healthy work/life balance. Of course, if you are "moonlighting" as a freelancer and working around your day job this may not be possible.

Get out of the house

When you become a freelancer it’s most likely that your home will become your primary office. It’s easy to get stuck into a routine of never leaving the house but it’s important both for your personal health and creativity to take breaks, leave the house and do regular exercise. If you live alone it can also be lonely to be both working and living in the same place. So why not try to find a co-working space in your area that you can join or at the very least take your laptop to a coffee shop for an hour or two a day.