For many freelancers, the pros outweigh the cons, and that remains true until you feel unnecessarily overwhelmed with your workload. Being overwhelmed can happen for several reasons, but if your clients attempt to get more than what you originally agreed upon or vying for more accessibility to you.
These situations can easily spiral into resentment towards your business. But before you call it quits, I have one word for you that will change how you (and your clients) feel about your business: boundaries.
How to Set Boundaries with Your Clients
Before you launch your freelancing career, you should first identify what your boundaries. To help get you started, we’ve compiled 10 ideas that you can begin implementing immediately with your clients going forward.
If you’re someone who loves to serve, it’s easy to try to accommodate your clients’ every need, but that is not always feasible. Create a work-life balance, and be realistic about the work you can agree to.
Set Boundaries for Yourself
Know what it is you will and will NOT provide and be firm about it.
Don’t be Afraid to Repeat Yourself
After you’ve set your boundaries, clearly define your services and terms (turnarounds, refunds, meeting schedule, extra fees, workload, etc.) in writing. Don’t feel bad about referring to them as your clients cross your boundary line. While these conversations can be hard, they are necessary.
Along those same lines, you should expect that some clients will test your boundaries. It is a common thread in the freelance community to encounter people who ask for more than their budgets allow. Try to remember that their “emergencies” and needs are not always your problem. You are only responsible for the contracted work its agreed upon turnaround time.
Know YOUR Client
At the start of freelance careers, many of us are focused on one thing: making ends meet. Therefore, it’s easy to think every client is a godsend and accept whatever comes your way. If you can afford it, try to avoid this behavior like the plague. Everything is not for you, and that is OK. Even better, you can use these situations to be a resource that provides a referral for another business or freelancer.
As the kids say, “Mmm mmm. Get somebody else to do it.”
Configure Your Workflow
Do your best to automate and streamline when possible. This will cut down confusion, extra phone calls, and ultimately, help your emerging business look more polished and professional.
Always Create Written Agreements
Written agreements are going to be your holy grail in reinforcing your boundaries. This is why it is so pertinent to ensure you know who you are and have what you offer clearly defined. In a Forbes article, Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms said that freelancers should “get everything in writing. Otherwise, it’s a case of “he said, she said” and you have nothing concrete to go off.”
Establish and Honor your Business Hours
You may work from home, but it’s your business, so you decide when you will be available to your clients. For my parent coaching business, I don’t respond to clients until 11 AM and I end at 4 PM. I do not respond to emails outside of that timeframe and clients do not have my phone number.
Accept the Blame
When you feel like a client has taken advantage of you, it’s natural to want to place blame on them. If they ask you for something that you have not contractually agreed to, the onus is on you to stand firm in your boundaries. Placing blame on them does nothing but set you up to be in this situation again.
There is peace on the other side of boundary setting. You are providing potential and existing clients with clarity and confidence while utilizing your services. These “lines” that you draw for yourself gives you more time to be creative, have a healthy work-life balance, and produce work that will keep clients raving about you!
Peaches Dean is a parenting coach and writer/author. She uses her decade of experience in working with children and families to fuel her passion for writing. Her goal is to empower women in their life’s journey, especially as it pertains to parenting.
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