There comes a time in the life of every freelancer when they need to learn to set boundaries with clients. Unfortunately, there’s no “Boundaries for Freelancers 101” class we can take before starting our businesses. That means most of us learn how to set boundaries the hard way.
For many, myself included, learning to set boundaries can be difficult. This is especially true when you are first starting out and feel like you need to pay your dues. Another instance in which this is difficult is when you feel like you need to take on every project you can get to pay your bills, even if that means taking on a client that doesn’t respect you.
In the beginning, you may find yourself in the aforementioned situations, and it may be okay for a time because you have financial responsibilities. The problem becomes when you continue this behavior long after you’ve started your business. If this behavior continues, you could actually stunt your business growth and find it difficult to make more money.
Here are 3 boundaries for freelancers so you can begin to make more money and have more peace of mind in your business.
Guard Your Time
Let’s be frank, being a freelancer requires a lot of creativity. Sometimes creativity needs to be replenished and sometimes the best way to do that is to make sure you are taking the necessary breaks. Additionally, you can’t work all the time. Our bodies eventually give out if we don’t rest.
That’s why one of the most important boundaries for freelancers is guarding our time. Time is pretty much the most valuable thing we have, and if we don’t guard it people will (unintentionally or intentionally) start to take as much of it away from you as possible. This means you can’t rest, you won’t be able to focus on activities that make money and you won’t be able to focus on the things that matter.
Guarding your time may look like setting a vacation response on weekends so clients know you aren’t available. It may mean letting your clients know you’re only available during certain times. It may even look like saying no whenever someone wants to set a meeting at a time that doesn’t really work for you.
The simple small actions can help you take back your time and teaches your clients to respect it.
Guard Your Rates
You may have heard that undervaluing yourself tends to attract less than desirable clients. Well, it’s true. That’s why it’s important to ask for what you truly deserve. In order to find this number you may need to calculate how much your expenses are, what your bills are, how much you pay in taxes and what your financial goals are. Or, you can simply ask for what you want to make.
It’s important to note that if a client says “No” to your initial rate that it isn’t a bad thing. Negotiating is okay so long as you know you’re not undervaluing yourself and giving up what you believe is fair. It’s the latter we want to avoid as freelancers.
Guard Your Ethics
When you start gaining success as a freelancer, you may notice that people start approaching you with strange requests.
I once had someone offer to buy my blog over at The Huffington Post. I often times have companies willing to pay me to write about them on large publications. Some of them really push – hard. These are both direct violations of not just my ethics, but those of the publications I write for.
It can be tempting to say “Yes!” when you’re looking at a lot of money. But the reality is that money won’t feel good anyway. It’s also not worth the risk. That’s why it’s so important that freelancers learn to set boundaries when it comes to their ethical standards. People will begin to test them eventually.
Boundaries for freelancers don’t need to be scary. In fact, boundaries aren’t meant to help you. As you begin to set boundaries it teaches your clients how to treat you. The end result is you have less stress, more time on your hands and you can actually make more money.