• Advice

3 must-break freelance habits

Freelancers come in all shapes, sizes, and variations – but there are 3 bad habits that haunt freelancers of almost of every field.

These are the top offenders – the nasty inclinations that freelancers struggle to break!

1. All work, no play

Stagger over to the nearest mirror. How you lookin’, my friend? Tired? Haggard? Underfed?

When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep, or did something really fun? When did you last unplug from work?

Listen, most freelancers are prone to being workaholics; it’s just part of the archetypical lifestyle.

But working yourself to near-burnout over and over and over again eventually takes its toll; at some point, your body or your brain will revolt, and you will, probably in fact… burn out.

Even if you escape a meltdown for an inordinate amount of time, you’ll become a humorless stressball – and your work will suffer for it.

Make time for play, even in small increments. Engage in silly, relaxing activities. Try to take care of yourself physically and mentally.

Build in room for family, friends, and fulfilling hobbies. Let your brain decompress.

You do your freelancing AND your life no favors when you work, work, work with no relief.

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2. Apologizing for reasonable requests

Do any of these phrases sound gratingly familiar to you?

“Sorry - but I wondered when my invoices would be paid?”

“I’m sorry, could we talk about this project today?”

“So sorry, would you mind sending me my tax forms?”


Gratitude and politeness are lovely, laudable things. But you are providing a service to clients, and they are compensating you for that service; you do not have to grovel.

SPECIAL NOTE TO MY FELLOW FEMALES: Yes, ladies, we are especially prone to doing this, because culturally we have been taught that having any kind of need is embarrassing and cumbersome and oooohhhh so unladylike/unsexy and we should just suffer in demure non-threatening silence until we die.

Throw off that noise: refuse to apologize for existing.

At its best, apologizing constantly is a verbal tic. At its worst, apologizing implies that (fair or not), you HAVE SOMETHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR.

Don’t make your clients wonder why you’re constantly acting guilty. Resist the urge to apologize– it can cause more problems than it ever solves.

3. Having no boundaries

So your client called you at 9 PM… on a Saturday.

Of course you answered, and of course you don’t mind talking about their project for an hour! Plans, what plans?

And no, of course you don’t need to charge them for this little “chat” – why the very word “chat” is so non-threatening, so very free-sounding… sure, they can call you back at any time!

Being boundary-less is not good client relations. It’s definitely not good for YOU, personally, and it sets up unrealistic expectations about freelancers in general.

It will attract needy, anxious, abusive, demanding clients like a moth to a flame, and it will drive you b-an-an-a-s.

What do you think, freelancers? What are the worst habits you see out in the freelance world?

Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.