If you said “yes,” there’s a problem.
The problem is that if you’re a freelancer, you’re the boss.
And you’re messing that up or you wouldn’t be so unhappy.
Many writers start freelancing so they don’t have to work for a terrible boss. But they wind up hating freelancing because they don’t treat themselves well.
Some freelancers make bad bosses. They expect more from themselves than most managers would.
If you recently started freelance writing and you find it harder than traditional employment, it may be because you’re a terrible boss. Good news. You can learn to do better. This post is for you.
In this post I list four reasons why freelancers sometimes make terrible bosses. And I explain how you can do better.
Terrible Boss Mistake #1: Who’s the Boss?
If you come from traditional employment, you may believe your client is the boss.
While the client can determine what work you do, they are not the boss. They can’t determine everything about how you perform the work. (If they do, you may be a de facto employee and not know it. Take a look at the IRS guidelines for being self-employed.)
Freelance writers who mistakenly believe their clients are their boss often have trouble negotiating. They may hesitate to say “no” or to suggest alternatives to their clients.
To change this, remind yourself that you are self-employed and that this makes you the boss. Start asking for better project terms. Turn down any clients who refuse reasonable negotiations.
Terrible Boss Mistake #2: Too Critical
Freelance writers can be harsh judges of their own work. I know. I tend to be a perfectionist too.
Unfortunately, by being too critical of your work you can damage your self-confidence. Low self-confidence can keep you from taking on new challenges.
To overcome this mistake, I take a step back from my work before I review it. Often, this means letting a few hours pass before I check it. For a longer piece, I may even wait overnight.
When I do look at my own writing, I look at it as though someone else wrote it. (I’m much more reasonable when reviewing someone else’s work.)
Terrible Boss Mistake #3: Working Too Much
Most traditional jobs have a natural separation between work and the rest of your life. Even if you work long hours, you go home at night.
For freelance writers, especially writers who work from home, that separation often doesn’t exist. Your work is as close as the next room.
If you don’t watch out, you can find yourself working around the clock. Working too many hours is quick way to burn out. Plus, you probably didn’t intend to spend all your waking hours working when you started freelancing.
Solving this problem takes some discipline. What works for me is to keep regular office hours. By regular office hours, I mean a defined time each day that I spend working. When that time is up, I finish working and shut my office door.
On the rare occasions that I do work extra hours to meet a deadline, I make sure to give myself some time off when I am done.
Terrible Boss Mistake #4: Not Setting Goals
What would you think of a boss who never let you know exactly what your job was or how you were doing?
You’d get pretty frustrated, right? You’d always be wondering if you were doing your job correctly.
Well, if you’re freelance writer and you don’t set any goals, you’re doing exactly the same thing.
You need to know how your freelance writing business is doing. You can’t find out without setting goals and measuring your progress towards those goals.
Fix this problem be setting a few goals for yourself and measuring your progress towards those goals. (Don’t worry. Remember that goals can be changed.)
What kind of a boss do you have? What suggestions would you add?