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Teach Freelance Clients to Respect Your Time By Setting Business Hours

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Do you ever wonder why clients assume that freelancers are available 24/7, over weekends, and after hours?

👉 It’s because too many freelancers respond to their requests over weekends and after hours.

Even if you really do work nights and weekends to meet your deadlines, it’s important that your clients don’t know that.

📵 Resist the temptation to respond immediately. Check the time and date before firing off a response email or calling them back.

Clients have a funny way of making freelancers feel like they have no control. I think there are two main reasons for this:

  • They have the money.
  • We aren’t confident in our business skills.

But one easy way to take back some control (and gain more confidence) is to establish communication boundaries. Simply set standard business hours that your clients must adhere to.

My business hours are 9-6pm EST Monday-Friday.

I will take calls, schedule meetings, and answer emails during those times. Contact me after 6pm and I won’t respond until the next business day.

Tip: Make sure clients know what time zone you’re in by including EST, CST, PST, etc.

You’ll learn a lot about your client this way. If they object to your availability or demand that you work weekends, maybe they aren’t such a good client after all.

If you’re a freelancer, you’re a business owner. A company of one.

Treating yourself as such will instantly weed out the good clients from the bad ones.

When you estimate the timeline of your project, do so as if you weren’t going to work any nights or weekends. Don’t let clients pressure you into a situation where you’re working overtime.

Be confident. Hold your ground. Fall back on your business hours.

If you must work overtime, you can charge the client a higher price. This is standard business practice, but you won’t have much leverage without first establishing normal business hours!

This is good practice for your business, but it’s also good for your health. You’ll feel less anxious and gain more confidence. You’ll spend more time with friends and family.

It’s really that simple. So what are you waiting for? Set your business hours and start telling your clients.

Last updated on May 10th, 2020

About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthew’s Design Co. and teaches thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog, newsletter, and community for freelancers — The Freelance Institute.
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