Check our guide on how to set boundaries, maintain your clients, and improve your freelance business!
Freelance workers get more freedom than a normal office worker. However, it does not mean that everything is always smooth sailing. Due to its self-management nature, the worker and client need to set up clear boundaries. While it does sound very vague, freelancers need to set boundaries to make a healthier working routine, environment, and relationship.
Many seasoned freelancers out there know and define their boundaries right from the start to avoid burnt out, stressed, or clients taking advantage. At some point, the sense of borders also creates a better impression of the client toward the worker. It is also one of the ways startup cultures and freelancers survive in the competitive field.
But, to maintain your freelance clients through the boundaries is not an easy task. One needs a robust commitment to ensure every given responsibility and task is under the right limit. Thus, both parties can get the most from it. In this article, you will find some ways to set boundaries and maintain client relations. Here are the details you need to tag along.
1. Determine Your Limit
If you wonder what are boundaries and why do freelance workers need them? Try to put the term as one of the limitations or working rules. As a freelancer, you are working by yourself, and you need to handle or maintain the client. There are times that startup culture or freelancers are expected to be available in doing whatever task asked to handle.
It is one of the reasons why one needs to have clear limits or boundaries. The idea is to avoid working outside the normal working hours. Most of the time, the company or freelance worker can break the curse easily. However, it can be mentally difficult to break free from. That is why you need to maintain the freelance client restrictions.
So, the first thing that you have to do when setting restrictions is to learn what is acceptable and not in a professional relationship. Underline the fact that you want to set boundaries to maintain your freelance client habit and relation. Thus, it is important to find whether your idea works for both individuals or not.
One of the most vital boundaries is working time. What hours do you want to work as a freelance worker? How many hours do you want to put into your career? And when is your available time? Your answer will help maintain your freelance clients and your freelance career. Remember that you need to ensure it does not disregard your patron.
Setting the work border can elevate your working routine and avoid overwork. Another restriction that you need with the freelance client is communication preferences. Be clear with your boundaries, so your patron will be able to work around them. It is another point that every freelance worker needs to set early on.
The idea to set boundaries for yourself will eventually aid you in setting the same limit for the freelance client. To maintain a healthier relationship, you can also set more limits for other rules. How about delivering feedback, getting your material, or any kind of communication that might affect your workflow? Find the answer, and you can set boundaries better.
2. Set Your Limitations Early On
After you know what you need to set boundaries, you can start doing so from the outset of any freelance client relationship. If you want to maintain your freelance clients and make the restrictions early on, it will be easier to follow in the future. It also helps a lot for you to review, maintain, and make changes if needed.
As a freelance worker, you are bound to be seen as what you are. New freelancers or startups tend to force themselves to work like a horse and break their boundaries. That kind of culture will stay in the freelance mind, which later makes you feel like being used. At some point, you will find that there are many scope creeps in the market field.
That is why you need to maintain strong restrictions from the beginning of any relationship. You can let your client know by responding to the phone calls, explaining it through emails, or any communication. Explain your boundaries and make sure you answer them during dedicated work hours or outside a certain time. It will explicitly tell your working hour limits.
As you communicate with the esteemed freelance client, maintain your professionalism and spell each detail. You can also tell the freelance project deliverables details. These ideas will be a great introduction to your freelance boundaries. Another good idea to set your boundaries early on is by setting up their expectations.
Most of the time, freelancers work and market under their portfolio prowess. In this case, you can show your expectation to set boundaries about the job. Try to maintain your freelance clients by clearly mentioning your needs. If you want or need feedback within a certain time, say so. It is the vital borders that help you maintain and stick to the freelance project schedule.
It is without a doubt that you need the courage to set boundaries and be clear about them. However, you have to make sure they are on board with it and know the exact details. If you can do it, you will get a lot of help to maintain a professional mark for your freelance career. Your client will also respect the boundaries as they know from the beginning of time.
3. Value Your Time
As said in some of the previous points, your one vital point to set boundaries is time. You need to maintain your working time and ensure your freelance client can respect it. The career itself forces you to be a responsible individual with every perk of details in it. You have to maintain the work, time, project, and also relationship with your client.
So, the main rule to start with is time. The time itself refers to the number of hours or period you devote to doing the freelance project and communicating with your client. It can differ from one worker to another, which is why you have to set boundaries. It is also a great way to maintain your freelance clients.
The key to setting up the time restriction is laying out the timeline for your freelance project. Most professionals separate their working progress into some parts. So they can make an estimated time for the freelance project. At some point, you also need to maintain the feedback limit to ensure you can follow the freelance deadline.
When you want to set the particular limitations, make sure both parties can commit to it. It is also not a bad idea to consider the consequences of not following the boundaries. However, the reason to set boundaries is to maintain not only the client but also yourself as a freelance worker.
Highlight that you need to respect your time limitations before expecting clients to do so. That is why you cannot set the time without further consideration. Make sure you know when your creative hours are and treat it as your sacred working period. Try to use the given creative time, maintain, and set boundaries around it.
Use your peak time to work around the project, so you can focus and finish the freelance task better. Tell your client that you are working around that time, and set boundaries to limit non-creative or distracting tasks. It is also a great idea to set a time to stop work, scheduled days off, and break. Respect the time, and you will maintain a better mental state.
4. Be Consistent With It
Setting the boundaries is only the first story to nail. You will need to consistently respect those limitations. One thing is for sure; you have to maintain your freelance clients' thoughts, relationships, and projects at their peak. That means you need to respect and be consistent with those restrictions so your client will do the same.
It is given that everyone wants to be the number one. If you make a slip about the boundaries, you will have a hard time maintaining the rest. One of the examples is taking a call during your break or day off. The breaking boundaries act will only make your freelance client assume that you are available on the weekend.
One slip, and you will have to do extra work for the rest. At some point, the problem will continue for all of the freelance projects. Again, sometimes it is hard to maintain the strict limitations for your career. But, it is always up to you to support your restrictions at any given time. Remember the goal of why you maintain and set boundaries.
At some point, you have to reinforce the work limitation in a kind and professional method. You can tell or remind the freelance client about the time and work boundaries. Again, be consistent with it. If the problem arises and is hard to maintain, you can refer back to the contract or the written expectation. So, the client can get a distinct understanding.
5. Write It Down
There are times that either you or the freelance client cannot maintain the boundaries. Thus, you ended up breaking the limit as said in the preceding point that you have to be consistent and set boundaries within both understandings. And to ensure everything goes as planned, you will need to put that information in writing.
But why do you need to do it? It is vital to write it down. So every term and boundaries are clear for both parties. It also helps maintain your freelance clients' relationships and responsibilities. Another reason goes to the fact that a written agreement will make it clear that you are serious about the freelance boundaries, expectations, and rules.
It tells the client that you want everything under control. So, you can do the job as planned. What makes it even better is the fact that the written terminology can maintain the two parties' behavior. If one makes a mistake or disobeys the limitations, the other individual can refer to the agreement. In this case, you can spell and set boundaries in the contract.
Everything that you want to set boundaries should be spelled out in the worker and client contract. It will make clear details and make it easier to communicate the boundaries. You can spell out some details about the working time hours, available time, communication preference, and many more. Thus, you can maintain your freelance clients' bond.
6. Be Aware Of Scope Creep
One of the reasons you need to set boundaries, maintain, and write them down is to avoid scope creep. For your information, scope creep is terminology that refers to freelance clients who want to push the margins and get more work. Most of the time, the scope creeper will give you compensation due to the adding job for the ongoing project.
While it can help you gain more money from it, freelancers tend to put away the fact that it breaks the boundaries. The consequences can differ from one to another. But if you want to maintain your insanity, you better say no to it. Why so? Because many freelance clients do not understand that the extension can cost you extra time and energy.
There are times that scope creep only needs a trivial addition. However, it is also possible that it takes much more extra time to work around it. The minor addition is not only breaking the limit but also waving your work balance. It does help you maintain a bond with the client, but is it worth it? Remember that you set boundaries to maintain your freelance clients.
That is why you need to think further and be aware of the potential scope creep violation. Most of the time, the problem arises during the revisions. The little change might require more time and resources for freelance workers. In this case, you need to be clear about the revision and project precincts. Tell the revision limit and extra charge for more work.
7. Don't Get Scared To Say No
One of the challenges to set boundaries and maintain your client is how to say no. Saying no can be hard to do, especially if you want to maintain a good relationship and do not want to disappoint the client. But, saying no and rejecting people is vital to maintain and set proper boundaries.
No one wants to work extra time without real money. Your boundaries will be meaningless if you cannot say to maintain them. You need to learn and be willing to tell the client no if something is outside the restriction. Again, you have to consider your freelance work condition and maintain a healthy mental state.
At some point, when no is very hard to say, you can at least discuss the solution. It is also a great way to tell your client what you can do instead of saying no. Try to ensure what you can do or answer still follow your boundaries. The best example is to say that you cannot finish the job today, but you can make the request tomorrow morning.
8. Do Not Feel Guilty
Feeling guilty makes everything harder to do. It includes your conscience when trying to set boundaries and maintain your freelance clients. More often than not, people start to feel guilty for being strict with the client or themselves. If you want to be a professional that has a quality work balance routine, try not to get bonded with the feeling.
You can feel guilty, but it will turn into a self-destructive habit in the extreme. It is futile if you find that guilt will end up eating your work balance. Try to understand that you set boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance and freelance client relationship. Pushing yourself due to guilt will make you inconsistent with the idea.
So, how to fight the urge to break the boundaries and not feel guilty for it? In the beginning, it is hard to say no to your client. But over time, you will learn that the limits will help you maintain and work under the more comfortable working scope. You should not feel guilty about your work rules and restriction.
Try to explain why you are being strict with yourself and with the client. You can tell that it is one of the perks of freelance. You might have more leeway restrictions than working with a company. But you can also set boundaries to maintain your freelance clients' relationship. It is also one of the ways to maintain and produce the best works since you are working under a balanced routine.
Why do freelancers need restrictions? Consider it a limitation and working rule, and you will find how vital it is for your career. The border will bring a healthier work-life balance and also help maintain relations. You can do it right from the start and respect your decision. Don't be sorry or guilty. It is always worth doing as you are working alone.