Have you ever pulled up to your favorite restaurant for dinner, walked to the door, and found it locked? I live in a small rural tourist town, and with the current economy’s labor shortages, I always check hours before I go anywhere because many businesses are closed 1-2 days a week; I don’t want to waste my time driving somewhere when I call ahead to make sure they’re open.
But what if I showed up when they were supposed to be open … and they weren’t?
With so many other options available to me, it’s unlikely I’ll risk going back.
With so many freelance editors and writers available to publishers and authors, if you aren’t available when you say you’ll be available, it’s unlikely they’ll risk working with you.
If you want to be a successful freelance writer or editor, you need to set hours and stick to them. Notice I didn’t say you need to be available all the time—because you don’t need to be and you shouldn’t be. Burnout is real, and it’s easy to do when you work from home for yourself.
Several years ago, I realized I was spending 12-14 hours a day, six days a week at my computer. I was exhausted, uninspired, and sick of working. I had to fight hard to turn in edits and blog posts that matched my previous quality of work.
I don’t overwork like that anymore.
These days, I set aside work hours. I don’t necessarily work Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Why would I? One of the reasons I LOVE freelance work is the ability to set my own hours! But I do make sure I put in the time needed each week. For me, that looks like 6-8 hours each day, five days a week. That might be four hours in the morning, the afternoon off for errands and meals, then two more hours after dinner. It might be all day in my chair, clocking out at 6 p.m. for the rest of the night. I always take one weekend day off, then one day during the week (for appointments and errands—who wants to grocery shop on a Saturday?). And if a client wants to meet or talk at a certain time? I can (almost) always be available; I’ll just take the time off somewhere else.
When you set (and stick to) hours, two things happen:
- You become someone your clients can depend on.
- You give yourself the rest you need to work optimally during business hours.
If you want to succeed at freelancing, be reliable—set your hours and stick to them.