For introverted freelancers, it’s crucial to set boundaries that protect your energy and mental health.
Since 2020, I’ve worked as a freelance content writer and copywriter, helping businesses throughout the U.S. share updates about their companies, promote their products, and help their customers by writing articles, emails, and social media posts. Freelancing opens up a world of possibilities and gives me control over who I work with, what services I provide, and how much I charge for my work and time.
When I started freelancing, I struggled to assert myself and reach out to companies to find gigs. I would use job boards, like Upwork and Fiverr, but I found them too competitive. When I got lucky enough to land a job outside of a freelancing platform, I was so worried about losing the gig, I obsessed over gaining my client’s approval at all costs, even at the risk of my health, self-satisfaction, and happiness.
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Realizing My Way of Working Wasn’t Working
For more than a year, I worked as a freelance ghostwriter for content marketing agencies. I would often stay up until the crack of dawn — multiple times a week — writing content that didn’t interest me. This would lead to editors and clients I’d never gotten the opportunity to meet tearing my work apart during endless rounds of contradictory revisions. To me, the revisions removed the heart from my writing and left me suffering from burnout. I was constantly exhausted, overwhelmed, and stretched too thin.
My way of working wasn’t working. So, I reevaluated how I ran my freelance business and focused on protecting my peace by prioritizing my physical, mental, and emotional health.
If you’re an introverted freelancer who’s struggling to protect your peace when working and dealing with clients, try these self-care tips.
4 Tips to Help Introverted Freelancers Protect Their Peace
1. Establish boundaries with your clients early on — the sooner, the better.
When you work for yourself, the lines between your professional and personal life can get blurry if you don’t have a clear plan for when and how you’ll work for your clients.
So, establishing clear boundaries with clients is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer. Discuss the scope of your client’s project to prevent scope creep, and set expectations that work for you and your client: Do they need the project completed within five weeks — or five days? How many rounds of revisions are you willing to complete without charging your client an extra fee? Do they expect you to respond to their messages in a timely manner; if so, is it reasonable?
In addition to discussing the scope of your client’s project, you should also decide when and how your clients should contact you. Do you prefer communicating over email rather than phone calls? Do you only want to answer work-related emails on weekdays before 9 p.m.? Establish these boundaries with your client before you sign a contract. This way, it will help manage their expectations and prevent your client (and their project) from taking over your free time. (As we know, we introverts need our downtime!)
2. Give yourself a treat at the end of your workday.
As an introvert, working with clients all day can be exhausting, especially if your client requires you to participate in debriefing meetings or wants you to provide updates on your progress over Zoom or conference calls. If you hate being invited to mandatory video or phone calls, you can make them more bearable by giving yourself a treat afterward to make up for the extra energy you spent participating in the meeting.
Research shows that rewarding yourself after a difficult task can encourage you to repeat the task in the future. The more you complete difficult tasks, such as sending cold emails or meeting with your client, the easier they will become.
So, after a long day of meetings and collaborating with extroverted clients and their staff, I reward myself by watching a few episodes of a show on Netflix or ordering lunch from my favorite restaurant. I choose a treat that doesn’t cost much, because I know I’ll probably have to do the same thing the next day (and I don’t want to ruin my budget).
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Spend time working outside, which naturally recharges introverts.
Sometimes, the best way for me to destress when I’m up against deadlines and overwhelmed with work is to change my location. One thing I love about freelancing is the ability to work from anywhere. Some days, I’ll work in my dining room, and others, I’ll work in my bedroom. But I’m most productive when I work outside and write from my backyard deck. The sights and sounds from my deck help me brainstorm and develop new writing ideas, and the fresh air helps me refocus and recharge.
To the point, research has found that spending time outdoors has been proven to reduce stress, improve mental wellbeing, and lower cortisol levels. My advice? When you work outside, sit in a cool, shady area, such as under a tree or beneath a patio umbrella, to reduce your eye strain from sun glare (and prevent your laptop from overheating!). If you’re working outdoors and using your home Wi-Fi, you may want to buy a Wi-Fi booster, too, and install it near your outdoor workspace. That way, your laptop won’t lose its internet connection while you’re working far away from your router. (Or, God forbid, while you’re in the middle of one of your loathsome Zoom meetings!)
4. Don’t hesitate to contact your client for clarifications if needed.
As a freelancer, your client may expect you to be an expert in your niche, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help when you need it. When I first started working with clients, I worried that asking for clarifications and guidance on assignments would make me seem inexperienced. I would complete the assignments based solely on the client’s content brief, only to find that my client needed me to make revisions because the work I submitted didn’t match what they’d expected and needed.
Now, I always ask my new clients for their style guides and examples of copy or content they’ve published in the past. This way, I can make sure my work fits their style, voice, and formatting guidelines. I also email my clients, or leave comments on my documents, whenever I have questions about details that aren’t included in the style guides or content briefs.
Asking for extra guidance when you’re struggling with assignments can be overwhelming, but it shows your clients you’re detail-oriented and committed to producing the best possible work for them.
Be the Best Freelancer You Can Be
Try incorporating these changes into your work to make sure your freelancing business is doing as much for you as you’re doing for it. Developing sustainable work habits that account for your introversion will help you produce high-quality work for your clients — without sacrificing your health or free time.
Do you have any other tips or routines that help you thrive as an introverted freelancer? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to learn how you destress and protect your peace when working with clients on freelance projects.
You might like:
- 6 Pros and Cons of the Freelance Lifestyle for Introverts
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Job to Freelance
- Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s the Science
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