Allowing your freelance clients to hijack your schedule is bad news.
Control over time is one of the top reasons freelancers choose this career path. It’s a big mistake to allow your clients to whittle that control away from you.
When I came to work Monday morning, one of the first things on my agenda was to reject an assignment that was sent to me late Friday evening.
This isn’t the first time someone has decided to be clever and assign me work after I leave the office. It’s also not the first time that that plan backfires on them.
I appreciate my clients. I appreciate their business. But, I am also running a business.
I cannot stress enough that freelance writers are service providers. We are not employees who are assigned tasks without any say-so. I also cannot stress enough that as a professional, you need to exercise control over the jobs you take and time you devote to your clients.
Client Control Is A Goal-Killer
When you write for others, you’re helping them complete a mission. Say a news site has a target of publishing five articles a day. Writing for them helps them achieve that goal.
But what about your goals?
Say you’re a writer who has a blog, a podcast, you’re working on a book, whatever. If you’ve planned to write a post every day, record every day, or lay down 20 pages a day for your book, what happens when your clients flood you with work?
If you don’t say no, your goals become secondary to your clients’ goals. And that’s not big picture thinking. That’s how freelancers get stuck living from assignment to assignment year-in and year-out.
If I accepted the assignment mentioned above, it would have required that I rearrange my entire week. Although I would get compensated for the work, those changes would have had wider ranging effects.
I would have had to:
- reduce time I planned to devote to other clients.
- reduce time I planned to devote to this site.
- reduce time I planned to devote to other projects.
Not to mention the changes in my personal life, such a missing my favorite gym classes and reworking my holiday plans.
Someone else’s needs and that one payment weren’t worth all that to me. Saying yes an all-around bad choice.
As a rule of thumb:
Accept projects and create a schedule that prioritzes your goals.
Client Control Offers Too Much Information
Another problem with allowing clients to hijack your schedule is it gives them too much information about your business.
At one time, I thought clients were unaware of how long things take. There have been hundreds of times that I wished the client only knew how tedious or time-consuming an assignment or some part of it was. They probably would develop a better way, I naively thought.
It’s true that some clients don’t know what we go through or how long it takes. But a lot of them do know.
That means they have a good idea how much time you spend working for them.
Say you have a client who sends you 40 hours worth of work on short notice and you accept it. The next week, you get little or nothing. The following week brings another 40 hours of work and you accept it.
You’re sending your client a message that you’re getting little if any work from other sources. You’re essentially saying, I’m your private writer.
That’s not a positive message.
That message can give the client an idea of how much money you make, how ambitious you are, and it can give the client an empowering sense that you rely on them.
To be in control of your career, your future, your success, you must be in control of your time. It’s that simple.