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Why I Needed to Create Boundaries in My New Copywriter Life

When I finally made the move to full-time freelance blogger and copywriter from my life in the corporate world, it was both existing and overwhelming. I needed to create boundaries. As I had been writing as a side hustle for several years, building my pipeline of work was relatively easy.

But before long, I was in over my head. I was working all kinds of hours, interrupting myself from one client project to take a call from another client, and being the ‘yes-girl’ to anybody and everybody.

The result? I was exhausted. My back was sore from so many hours, hunched over my laptop. My eyes were burning from so many hours spent staring at a screen. And my waistline—let’s just say I put on a few unintended pounds.

I was so excited to do what I had always wanted to do finally, but I knew I needed to make some changes. I needed to establish some boundaries.

Boundaries Don’t Need to be Barriers

What did it take to realize I needed to make some changes? Aside from the pains I mentioned earlier, I realized I was no longer focusing on what my kids had to say when they called to check in. I brought my laptop with me wherever I went. I tended to have my laptop balanced on my lap so that I could type away each night, even after the proverbial workday should have been long over.

Yes, a change was needed. While I’ll share what worked for me, I understand these tips might not work for you. Perhaps they won’t apply. The important thing is to remember that as a freelance content creator, you are in charge of your destiny. And it is up to you to create the barriers that will help you be more successful.

Start My Day My Way

After nearly 30 years of working in a corporate setting and dashing to the airport every other week to catch a flight and jet set to business meetings, I realized I no longer needed to work traditional work hours. And because my new ‘job’ is all about creativity and tapping into my brain on my own terms, all in the comfort of my own home, it was up to me when I wanted to work each day. Even better, my hours from day to day didn’t necessarily need to be the same!

But I am a creature of habit, and I thrive on a morning routine. So, my new routine is getting out of bed sometime around 9 AM, give or take. I change into my gym clothes, make myself a cup of coffee, and head down to our home gym to get in a ride on the Peloton. That 30 minutes of cycling every morning and the reward of coffee—no holding back on the creamer—helps me get in my zone. Not only that, it allows me to move my body. It’s about doing something for myself before I start doing stuff for others the rest of the day.

Limit Client Interruptions

This is where the boundaries come into play. I learned that I needed to limit potential interruptions to stay focused on a project and do my best work. Scheduling calls each day of the week from prospective clients or for project check-ins kept me from keeping that focus. Even worse, when that cell phone rang, I let it take me away from whatever I was working on. This was a lose-lose situation. It was terrible because getting back into that zone was often hard (sometimes impossible) after an interruption. It was bad for the client because I didn’t keep my focus.

My solution was to limit the days and hours of the week when I took phone calls from anyone besides family. I limit calls to two days a week, between 11 AM and 4 PM. And those calls need to be scheduled in advance. Unplanned calls don’t get answered.

Now, this is where you might think I am creating some barriers. But quite the opposite. I explain these parameters to every new client. When I explain to them that these self-imposed limits help me to deliver a higher quality of work, they get it! And they comply. Plus, when they know that I will bill them in 30-minute increments for calls, they find a way to be far more efficient with our time.

Family Fun Comes First

I know that I’m super fortunate to get to do what I get to do every day. With my new boundaries in place, most days don’t even feel like work. And on those evenings when I decide to work late—entirely up to me and often driven by when I’m in the zone, and the words are flowing—it still doesn’t feel like work. I’m perfectly content typing on my laptop for the next great article I will deliver to a client.

But I can’t approach it like this every day. If I never take time for anyone besides my clients, I’ll be going directly against my intentions of a better work-life balance. And working all day every day could eventually lead to me no longer loving what I do.

The solution here is to prioritize family time. This means a hard stop each night when it’s time to make dinner. My husband and I typically tag-team this approach. We eat as a family—my children are adults and off on their own, but my young stepdaughter is with us every other week, and she thrives on a routine (just like me)—every night.

This means I need to close down my laptop at the same time every night. It means preparing that meal, eating together, and then spending some time doing something as a family. Perhaps it is a card or board game. Perhaps it is watching a movie. On good weather days—I live in Minnesota, so these days aren’t always guaranteed—we might head out for a walk or bike ride. Whatever it is, that time is precious, and with few exceptions, it’s a priority.

Continue Reading: Strategies for Sustainable Revenue Growth in Copywriting

Creating Your Own Boundaries and Preventing Barriers

If you’re new to the freelancing space, whether as a copywriter, blogger, graphic designer, web developer, etc., you need to create boundaries that help you be more effective. And the flexibility to do this—permitting yourself to do this—is one of the most glorious things about this career we have created for ourselves.

To find out the best boundaries for you, take some time to pay attention to when you are most productive, where you do your best work, and what causes you stress during the day. Establish those boundaries to help you be the most effective when it works for you. Not only will your clients benefit, but you’ll find yourself enjoying your freedom as a freelancer that much more.

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Author Ann Schreiber Photograph by TreeTop Media


About the Author

Ann Schreiber has been a marketer and content writer for over 25 years. While she got her start in financial services marketing, her writing interests are far broader. Now, as the CEO of Copywriting For You, she spends her time as a full-time freelancer blogger, writing on various topics, including personal finance, marketing and business, health and wellness, home improvement and cleanliness, parenting and family, and more. Check out her website, https://copywritingforyou.net/, to learn more.