How to Avoid a Burn Out as a Freelance Writer

Last Updated on April 2, 2017 by Michael Brockbank

Freelance writing has great potential as a lucrative career. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort and market yourself well, it’s quite possible to keep working and make a lot of money. However, it’s also quite possible to burn out from all of the work and stress. Like any career, doing too much will eventually weigh on your soul to the point of where you snap. What can you do to avoid a break down?

6 Ways to Protect Yourself from a Burn Out

Even when someone love’s what they do, too much can still lead to a burn out. Once this happens, performance suffers and it will cause a great deal of stress both physically and mentally. While I cannot guarantee that these six methods will keep you totally protected, these are some of the things I’ve learned over the years.

1. Schedule Proper Time Off

Time ManagementIt’s very easy for a freelance writer to become overwhelmed by the amount of work that is available. Clients will often try to get as much out of you as they can in order to meet their own goals and objectives. It’s vital that you find a way to give yourself a moment of peace.

Recently, I started pushing to have weekends off like any other job. In the past, I would work every day, even if it was just for a couple of hours. But I tell you what, having a whole day to yourself is everything you think it could be and more.

One of my clients wants me to be available 16 hours a day. I had to put my foot down and let her know that I have to be done after 5pm. This is because after nine hours of sitting in this god-awful chair with poor lighting gives me hellish headaches and pains.

The point is you need to set boundaries for some clients or they will take advantage of you.

Scheduling time off is very important to keep your sanity. Sure, you’ll miss out on making a few extra bucks a day. But isn’t it worth your sanity and mental health to know when to stop? For me, it is. Even just walking to the store and back gives me a break and a chance to clear my head throughout the day.

2. Don’t Overwork Yourself

Freelance WritingI’ve seen a lot of people overwork themselves. And I’m not just talking about freelancers, either. I know many of you have to work as much as possible just to keep the lights on. But at what cost? If you push yourself to the brink of a burn out, it’s not going to end well.

But what if you need the money to make sure everything gets paid? Perhaps re-evaluating your budget is more efficient than taking on too many jobs. Here are a few things that may be of benefit:

  • Cut certain expenses you don’t need.
    Why pay for a cable/television/phone package deal when you only use the Internet? This is just one example of the many things you may be wasting money on.
  • Look for better paying opportunities.
    As a freelancer, you don’t need to stick with just one client. Keep your eye out for others who may be willing to pay you more per job.
  • Do things that improve your value to clients.
    Expand your knowledge, practice writing by running your own blogs or do anything else that makes you more valuable. Clients will pay more if you demonstrate greatness.

The point here is to prevent from overworking yourself to the point of a burn out. The best ways to avoid this scenario are by reducing the amount of money you need every month or increase your income.

3. Diversify Your Workload

One of the things that keeps me focused on writing is diversifying the style of work I accept. I don’t focus merely on a single niche. This gives me the chance to explore different areas, topics and industries without it seeming monotonous.

This is one of the reasons why I like using Textbroker so much. Over the years, I have worked on projects ranging from animals to travel. Although I started with focusing purely on computers and technology, I found many other topics that held my interest which I excel at.

I know a lot of freelancers on the Internet who diversify the actual work they do for clients. For example, some writers are capable of tossing in some graphic design on the side. If you’re capable of being a jack-of-all-trades, it’s easier to find work and you can mix up your workflow throughout the week.

4. Do Projects Solely for Yourself

Keep Calm on WattpadOne method that helps many people keep their focus is by periodically doing projects for themselves. This is one of the reasons why I try to work on my three blogs throughout the week. Not to mention I would love to finally finish writing VII on Wattpad and start a new project.

Over the years, I was starting to get frustrated with freelance writing. Sure I was paid per piece from clients, so it wasn’t a waste of time. But there were moments when I thought to myself that I would really like to have my name on something for a change. As a freelance ghostwriter, you don’t get that opportunity.

Through these blogs and my work on Wattpad, it’s I who receives the credit. Although I don’t make much money through these projects, they still help me keep my sanity as I am able to focus on content I want to write in my own style.

Another reason why I suggest doing your own projects is because it can be quite therapeutic. Personally, I find writing fictional stories to be quite relaxing. It gives you a sense of control where anything can happen. It’s great for keeping your mind from a burn out.

5. Force a Vacation

It’s often difficult for a freelancer such as myself to schedule a vacation. After all, each second that isn’t spent writing for a client is another I don’t get paid. Many of us don’t get the luxury of vacation time or paid annual leave. However, it’s a vital component if you want to keep the mind sharp.

Getting some alone time away from the clients and trappings of writing is a great way to recharge your batteries. However, it requires a bit of planning when you’re a freelancer such as myself. Because we don’t get paid time off, it’s all up to us to plan and afford a vacation. Luckily, not all vacations need to be taken to some exotic country.

Sometimes even taking a week to yourself in the house can be monumental to your state of mind. Perhaps you could spend a few days camping, fishing or anything else you can do locally that doesn’t cost a great deal of money.

The point of this is that you want to get out and away from clients and the needs of others who are tapping your comfort level.

6. Learn to Say, “No”

Losing a ClientOne of the hardest lessons for me to learn was saying, “No.” Sometimes it’s just not worth the money to deal with certain clients or projects. This can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you need the money. The trade-off is that saying no gives you freedom, which is sometimes worth more than any dollar amount.

Unless you are on retainer from a client or have a specific job title, you don’t need to take every job that comes your way. There is nothing wrong with knowing your limitations and understanding how you need a moment to yourself.

If you tell clients that you are unable to perform a certain task, do so in a professional manner. You never know who the client may give your name to in his or her circle of business associates who may need their own content.

A Burn Out Can Be Destructive

A burn out in any career path is often destructive whether you’re a freelancer or not. Take a pause once in a while and catch your breath. If you push too hard, it may lead to a variety of issues both physical and mental. After all, what’s the point of making money to improve your life if you wind up being miserable from the experience?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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