How To Thrive As A Freelancer While Avoiding Burnout

How To Thrive As A Freelancer While Avoiding Burnout

by Diana Chin 

Freelancing is not a glamorous path.

There, I said it.

For many years while working at different jobs, I was freelancing on a part-time basis. No matter the niche I was exploring, I found myself constantly learning what works, what doesn’t work, and where to avoid situations that could put me in drastic financial debt.

And yet, I still have folks asking me how I’ve managed to have my stuff together, without appearing like I’ve lost my mind. I wish I can tell you that the whole process would involve witchcraft and plenty of sacrifices (although, that would be completely asinine and unethical).

After a couple of setbacks, hard realizations, copious amounts of coffee/tea, and over one thousand diaper changes, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to save yourself from burning out while freelancing (whether you’re doing this full or part-time).

Don’t Expect To Know All Niches

When you’re a freelancer, the common misperception is that you’ll be able to have free time in learning all sorts of skills and professions. Last time I checked, this only applies if you’re playing The Sims (hello, cheat codes). I remember making my Sims character know all sorts of skill sets (i.e. cooking, reading, learning programming, karate, etc.) just to help her advance in all of the different career fields being offered. Pretty much, she was in Goddess mode throughout the game. Sadly, our lives are not as parallel as our game counterparts. But, we must realize that each of us is born with unique abilities that drive us to pursue our passions.

If you’re having trouble how categorizing which areas of services you’re able to provide to your clients, try listing two columns. The first column indicates your strongest niche set (i.e. the bread and butter of what you do on a daily basis). The second column indicates your niche that you’re constantly improving. As an example, my primary niche is being a web developer & designer. Developing websites and logo designs for small businesses is my money-maker. My second niche is being a writer. While I’ve published articles and books, I’m constantly learning how to channel my voice so that my audience can understand my viewpoints.

Don’t Be Afraid To Refer Clients Somewhere Else

There were a couple of occasions when I had to politely decline project offers. As much as the monetary amount sounded great, I knew that my current skill set wouldn’t fit with their potential project. Some may argue that I’m either setting my expectations way too low or that I’m not taking enough risks to pursue a life-changing project.

I want to remind all of you that being a freelancer (by itself) is a risk to partake. Remember – you’re doing this on your own terms. That means a higher chance of liability and financial risks. It’s okay to be selective with your potential clients. You can’t expect to work with every person that you meet, whether online or offline. Most importantly, you can’t be a doormat where folks can undercut your budget just for the sake of getting something for free.

Trust your intuition. If you feel that you and the other party aren’t a perfect match, don’t be afraid to refer him/her somewhere else. Not only you’re helping out a fellow person in the industry, but you’re reducing the risk of being stuck in a sticky situation that you can’t get out of.

Set A Schedule

No matter how much work I’ve encountered, I always made sure to set time for my family. When you’re freelancing, it’s nice that you can work whatever hours you want. However, it’s important to make sure that you don’t stretch yourself out thin to the point where you won’t make time for your self-care. I’ve seen folks who would overly dedicate their craft to the point of running themselves sick. That’s not the direction you want to go for when running your business.

Since I began my freelancing career this past year, I’ve adopted a five-hour schedule, from Monday through Friday. I utilize the weekends as my way to decompress and unplug from social media. It also gives me time to set out my goals for the upcoming week so that I don’t feel like I’m gathering straws from the haystack.

Are you a freelancer (whether new or seasoned) and want to share your tips on how you’re thriving without burnout? Let me know in the comments!

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