New or established, more than likely, all freelance writers have heard the term “feast or famine.”
It’s actually a myth that these are the only two ways to exist as a freelancer. In fact, there’s a sweet middle ground where you’re making money and not feeling overwhelmed with projects. But how do you find it? That is the question we’ll be tackling — and solving — today.
FYI, I’ve managed freelance writers for as many as 400 blogs, so trust me, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. Following is some insight on finding that comfortable little section of freelance life that makes it “oh so sweet!” AND “oh so profitable!”
Track Your Orders
If you’re writing the same kinds of freelance projects, like blog posts, how many can you usually do in a day?
And I don’t mean how many could you do if you were chained to your computer with a gun at your head, forcing you to type. I mean how many blog posts can you write in a given day before your mental stamina starts to break down? Before you start making grammar mistakes? Before you start getting distracted by thinking about a nap every five minutes?
Let’s imagine your personal daily blog limit is five. If you can only handle five blog posts per day and you want to work 5 days per week, then you should not accept more than orders that total more than 25 posts per week. If more come in, then you run the risk of being a little burned out or having to work longer hours or the weekend.
Neither of these necessarily mean your whole world is going to fall apart, but be sensitive to your limits if this lifestyle balance is important to you.
FYI, here’s an example of a simple project-tracking sheet for freelance writers to help you NOT over-extend yourself.
Recognize When You’re Overwhelmed
The next time your freelance writing business overwhelms you, take a step back to identify the causes. Is it:
**That you’re putting in longer hours on a project than you expected?;
**Because this particular client is a bad fit?; and/or
**Because you took on too much?
Much like a headache is the first sign that you’re dehydrated, this feeling of being overwhelmed can clue you in to your personal sweet spot, because it’s right there in the rearview mirror. When you stop and consider the cause, you’ll be able to realize things like:
**Oh, so I really can’t write two white papers in one week;
**Wow, 20 blogs a week is much more than I can handle if I want to avoid carpal tunnel and eye strain; and/or
**This client is terrible; I’m terminating this contract.
Give Clients Reasonable Deadlines
Now imagine it’s Monday and you’ve already accepted orders for 25 total blog posts this week. But, one of your best clients comes to you and needs a favor: five posts by Friday. Here’s where you’ve got options, but you should never over-promise when it’s not reasonable. At this point, you can decide:
**To work extra hours and see where you can fit the time in to accommodate this order;
**Whether this client could have their deadline pushed back a little;
**Whether another client could have their deadline pushed back; and/or
**Whether you can outsource this project to someone else to ensure it gets done.
If a client comes to you with an unreasonable request, though, don’t be afraid to push back. It’s professional to do this to reinforce boundaries and protect yourself.
Following are a couple of ways to let clients know that you’re booked, but still keep the business. Oddly enough, seeing that you’re so in-demand may actually trigger a positive response from your clients.
“Hi there, I’d love to help you, but I’m currently booked until next Monday. I could get started then and deliver Wednesday. Does that work?” or
“Unfortunately, I’m fully booked at this time, but I’m accepting new orders for next month. I only have two client spots left. Did you want to snag one of them?” or
“Sure, I’d be happy to help, but with this tight turnaround I need to add a 20% rush fee. If that works, send over the deposit and I’ll get cracking!”
Here’s some great advice on how to set — and keep — reasonable deadlines as a freelancer.
What Happens When You Overbook Yourself
Part of what your clients are paying you for is your ability to meet deadlines and deliver quality. If either one of those starts slipping because you’ve overbooked yourself, you could lose that client (or at the very least, have to offer a discount or some other promise/incentive for them to keep working with you).
Of course, being overbooked happens. On the plus side, it’s a sign that your services are in-demand. On the downside, you run the risk of missing deadlines or not editing closely enough, both of which can destroy client relationships.
If you’ve got a full plate, consider bringing on an editor to help you so that one more set of eyes reviews the work before you submit it.
This Is Where Your Freelance Writing Sweet Spot Is
Often, the perfect balance just before your “I’m overwhelmed” point. Perhaps it’s:
A certain number of clients you want to have; or
The number of hours you want to work per week; or
The number of projects you can complete in a given timeframe.
The point is, once you know it, you can focus all your energy and mental sharpness towards delivering the high quality your clients have come to expect.
What Your Freelance Sweet Spot Is Really About
Most people have the wrong idea of what work-life balance actually means. The truth is, work-life balance depends entirely on what you want to achieve in life and your ability to properly manage your time to fit it all in. Learn three ways to achieve this in the video below.
Your Freelance Writing Sweet Spot Is …
What do you think your sweet spot hinges on? Please share in the comments section below.
Next Post: In my next post, I’ll be talking about a few key tips to help you get ready for what’s often the busiest freelance booking season — the fall.
About the Author: Laura Pennington is a former inner city teacher and corporate employee who fled the grind in 2012 to work at home. Since then, she’s focused on SEO content for law firms and insurance agencies, writing everything from ebooks to blogs to video scripts. She now blogs at www.sixfigurewritingsecrets.com.
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