I attend a lot of freelance events around my city. One complaint I hear often is how clients become bosses. As a result, the freelancer has a difficult time juggling multiple projects or building their own brands so they can make more money.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in creative fields. The good news is you can overcome it with a few simple tweaks.
Change your mindset.
The first step in avoiding having clients become bosses is to change your mindset. In actuality, there a couple of mindset shifts you’ll have to make.
The first mindset shift requires that you stop thinking of yourself as a freelancer and start seeing yourself as a business owner. I find this does a few things:
- You stop entering sales situations as if you’re being interviewed for a job.
- The business owner gets better at setting boundaries because your main concern is ROI for yourself and your business – not someone else’s.
- You take less crap.
The second mindset shift requires that you don’t see your value in a skill set, but rather your expertise. Millions of people can write, design, take photos, etc., but not everyone has a specific expertise. You market yourself with the latter and your clients will respect you more.
Charge by the project, not the hour.
When I first started freelancing in 2010, I ran across an article from Carol Tice which explained why writers need to charge by the project and not the hour. Simply put, a client won’t know whether it took you three hours or three days – and it shouldn’t matter anyway.
A few years down the road and I’ve noticed that charging by the project has another added benefit: It stops clients from becoming bosses. I find that those who charge hourly become employees without meaning to because they are trading time for dollars. In this scenario, clients become bosses because they sometimes feel entitled to it as a result of paying for your time.
Set better boundaries.
The next step in avoiding having clients become bosses is to set better boundaries. How you price your services is one way of doing so, but there are others.
For example, set a time boundary. Starting at 3 P.M. on Fridays I have a vacation responder that goes up that says I’m out for the weekend. My team is out too. I also don’t work at night for various reasons.
Your ability to set boundaries will ensure that clients don’t become bosses because they will respect you more.
Take on less crap.
The final step in avoiding having clients become bosses is to take on less crap. To be fair, this is more of a preventative step. It’s also a step that you get better at with experience.
With time, you tend to learn which clients will be more trouble than they are worth. Your job becomes to set the boundary by not taking them on in the first place.
As a business owner, the last thing you want is for clients to become bosses. By taking these steps into consideration, you can avoid this scenario from happening.