Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Setting Boundaries with Clients

I have been writing web copy for a pretty big project for the past month or so, and I must admit that it has tested my patience. It's almost finished I'm glad to say. The biggest challenge of this project has been establishing boundaries.

What are your hours?

I started off letting the client know what hours I would be available. I explained that I begin working at 5:00a.m. each day and break late in the afternoon to pick u my kids and spend time handling homework, snacks, etc. I am available until 6:00p.m. This is not a strict schedule; I'm frequently working later on some days, but I allow "work hours" where I can be contacted by phone, email and Skype. I let clients know that I check my email once more in the late evening around 10:00 p.m. I am not available on weekends unless prior arrangements are made. I mean half the fun of freelancing is being able to set your own schedule, right?

Off to a rocky start

This client contacted me whenever he pleased: as soon as I needed to leave to pick up the kids, late in the evening when we were having dinner and on weekends. I had to politely remind him more than once that I was not sitting by the computer on the weekends waiting for his emails and Skype messages (Okay, I didn't say it like that). Eventually, he got it.

Time is money and so much more

If you don't set boundaries with your clients, you'll wind up feeling like you're on call 24/7. That's a recipe for burnout and major resentment. Establish reasonable hours and let your clients know when you are available – even if you freelance part-time. It's good business and puts clients at ease. But draw your line in the sand and don't waver. Take care of yourself and protect your non-working hours like gold.

9 comments:

Valencia Higuera said...

Ignoring boundaries is one of my biggest pet peeves. And no matter how many times you remind some people...they don't get it. I wanna shout, "just because you choose to eat, breathe and sleep business and work 24/7 doesn't me I do." I regularly get emails from people at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning. And sometimes I want to ask, "do you sleep?"

Kimberly Ben said...

Lol- Valencia, you said it. I used to be really bad about not telling people "no." Thankfully I realized there are only so many hours in the day, I need a couple of them for myself and my family. No apologies.

Isaac Sweeney said...

Boundaries are good so you avoid feeling like you work all the time, but they can also be good for business. They show you have rules and aren't just some free-wheeling goober. They should also let the client know that you are working, and not twiddling you thumbs or something like that.

Kimberly Ben said...

Isaac, I agree completely.

Rebecca Smith said...

Hi, Kimberly -

Just discovered your blog via Lori's Words on the Page blog.

Great stuff here about setting boundaries with the client from the beginning. That's key in establishing successful, long-term relationships for your business.

Kimberly Ben said...

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for stopping by. I am learning that if I establish my boundaries in the very beginning, I rarely have to wind up putting my foot down to preserve my personal time. Oh yes, I'm learning...

Lori said...

Excellent post, Kimberly. I've had to put my virtual foot down with clients in the past on this very issue. Freelance does not mean we have no other existence.

Christine O'Kelly said...

Oh what a great post! Most clients seem to respect 'unspoken' boundaries... but then there are some... like this one that just don't! I wonder if he/she would even if you had spelled it out!

Anonymous said...

When you can't set the limits, it will be hard for you to really grow since many clients may take advantage. We really need to learn how and why we should be creating boundaries. I came across this video that tells about how you should set your boundaries when it comes to dealing with your business. http://marieforleo.com/2012/03/how-to-set-boundaries/

 
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