Guest Post: Freelancers Finding Serenity

by Cathy Miller

in Miller Musings, On Business

Freelancing is a different world.

Those of us who are freelancers have various reasons why we do what we do.

I know I would be lost without my network of freelance writer buds – like my good friend, Lori Widmer.

When I sent a request for guest posts while I’m out walking 60 miles in 3 days, I was not surprised that my buds would leap to the rescue.

I am thankful for Lori’s friendship and wisdom. Please welcome Lori and enjoy her insight on this freelance life.

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Finding Serenity in a Mad Writing World

By Lori Widmer

After enough years of trying to get to my happy place in my career, I’m finally in the sweet spot. Work is coming to me faster than I can even think to market. I’ve built a nice stable of clients who call frequently for help. It’s a great place to be.

It’s also a busy place. Very, very busy.

One of the things we freelancers sometimes forget to do is put limits around our time. When we’re first starting out, we say yes to almost every project, giving up weekends at times, in order to build our portfolios and reputations.

Yet years later, we’re still doing it.

And we probably don’t need to.

I’m guilty of saying yes. In fact, I just finished nearly two months of projects that had me working ten-hour days. I said yes. I agreed. I worked overtime to meet unreasonable deadlines.

And I did it to myself.

So how do we find serenity amid the flurry of activity? How do we keep clients happy without stripping our lives of everything but work?

By pacing ourselves.

For example, I have a client currently who handed me projects due next week. I get them on Friday and have to have them back by Tuesday. There are several small projects. You know what that sounds like, right?

There goes my weekend.

However, not so. I told the client that my weekend was booked (it is – my family has already booked it). I would try to make the Tuesday deadline, but it would be more likely that Wednesday or Thursday would be a better possibility.

The client agreed. I just bought myself a short extension.

It’s okay to put boundaries on your time. You want to give those clients the best work possible. They want it to be right the first time. By pushing back on the deadlines whenever possible, you can stretch out your schedule so that all your hours aren’t crammed into one or two weeks. In some cases, the projects can wait a few extra days or even a week.

Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.

Know your own limitations of time and energy. Give clients your best, but make sure you’re at your best by allowing enough time in your schedule to come at the job with energy and a fresh perspective.

Freelancers ~

How do you handle multiple client project requests?
Have you ever turned down work from an existing client because you haven’t had the time?

BigStock Photo Credit

NOTE FROM CATHY: I will be in San Diego from November 7th through November 20th. Part of that time will be spent walking 60 miles for the 3-Day Walk for the Cure.

I will respond to Comments as soon as I can. Walk on! And thank you.

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Lori Widmer, a Philadelphia-area freelance writer and editor, has been writing professionally for over 20 years.

Her work has appeared in places such as American Express Inside Edge, InformationWeek, Insurance Journal, and Risk Management Magazine.

Lori blogs about risk management at Risk Notes, and about the writing life at Words on the Page. She is co-founder of the About Writing Squared 5 Buck Forum.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Hurley Hall November 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

You’re so right, Lori. I have learned (the hard way) to set boundaries for client time and to arrange deadlines that allow me to meet both personal and professional commitments.
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Lori November 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

Yea, I think sometimes the deadlines are arbitrary, Sharon. They get it in their heads that it HAS to be delivered by this date, when in fact they’re not looking at it for the next two weeks.
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Cathy November 22, 2012 at 5:39 am

Lori, thanks for your continued support and another great guest post. You rock!

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Ashley November 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm

It also could be that the client has been burned in the past by an unreliable writer, so they want to make sure they build in a little wiggle room. By proving I can make the deadlines I promise to make, or decline projects I can’t finish on time, they learn to trust and don’t worry because they know when I say I’ll have it by this day, I’ll have it finished! Building those relationships helps a lot. But I’m like you. I’m guilty of taking quick turn-around projects and working all weekend. That’s the downside to being reliable … They come to you because they know no one else could make their short deadline!

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Cathy November 22, 2012 at 5:39 am

Good point, Ashley. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I don’t take the rush jobs. My personal life has too many commitments and I promised myself when I left the corporate days behind that I would not put that stress on me.

Thanks, Sharon and Ashley, for your comments.

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Lori November 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Very true, Ashley. It’s when you’ve proven yourself that you can ask for that little wiggle room. :)

Thanks for hosting me, Cathy. :)
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