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How available are you?

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Ace Contributor
Lexidh S Member Since: Mar 21, 2018
1 of 12

As a freelancer it is expected that you are available a lot of the time, but how available are YOU? Do you take full days off, not checking messages at all? Vacations with no wifi? Weekends away from your computer? 

 

I have clients (outside UpWork) that will lose their marbles if I don't respond within an hour. They know I am not available all the time during THEIR business hours, and it drives them nuts. I can't be 100% available for both Eastern Europe and US/Canada and get enough sleep, they have to share me! If I can't get to some quick task the same day (within their business hours) it's always a crisis. Other clients are more relaxed and just expect to hear from me within a couple of days. I always respond to offers here on UpWork within 24h, but pressing "Decline" isn't that hard ;P Weekends away happens, but usually with my laptop along just in case. Going a whole week without wifi isn't an option anyway, but I'm not a huge fan of bringing my work laptop on longer trips (it is a BEAST of a thing). This year I'm a good little freelancer and not going on vacation, moving instead, but just 3 minutes away, so no long hauls. 

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Ace Contributor
Bev C Member Since: Jan 2, 2018
2 of 12

Lexidh S wrote:

As a freelancer it is expected that you are available a lot of the time, but how available are YOU? Do you take full days off, not checking messages at all? Vacations with no wifi? Weekends away from your computer? 

 

You can't be available all the time and no client should expect you to be permanantly on call. You do need to take some time off to relax free from checking messges. Also, sometime life happens and you need to take care of things outside of work.

 

I don't only work on UW either and have quite a lot of clients off the platform. Early on I gave into clients' every whim, but I had to learn the hard way. Although I'm mostly available (including weekends), I'm not always available. I do always check my messages on mobile if I'm not working and tell my clients I'll get back to them the next day.

 

I regularly work 7 days a week, but on the odd occasion I might only work 4 days in a week - it depends what projects I have and what personal committmnets I have. Often I work at night, other times only in the day, and sometimes both; my time is my own. That's the great thing about freelancing, but it must work for you not against you. If you overdo it you burn yourself out, the quality of your work slips and those very same clients you were trying so hard to please tell you your work sucks.

 

If clients are demanding you be available 24/7/365 they're taking advantage of you. Decent clinets won't do that. Take control and tell them when you can get back to them. If you allow it they'll keep taking advantage of you. Set your boundaries.

 

If I'm going to be completely unavailable for a few days (no wifi, etc.) I tell my regular clients well before the time and ask if there's anything they might need in that time that I can do beforehand.

 

Clients have breaks and so can you Smiley Very Happy

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Ace Contributor
Lexidh S Member Since: Mar 21, 2018
3 of 12

Bev C wrote:

You can't be available all the time and no client should expect you to be permanantly on call. You do need to take some time off to relax free from checking messges. Also, sometime life happens and you need to take care of things outside of work.

 

If clients are demanding you be available 24/7/365 they're taking advantage of you. Decent clinets won't do that. Take control and tell them when you can get back to them. If you allow it they'll keep taking advantage of you. Set your boundaries.

 


There is a big difference between what they expect and what I give them! But every time it's the same, if I'm not available, it's like their whole world is falling apart and it is implied that I'm the worst freelancer ever. I refuse to live like that, even if it's just in the weekdays and during business hours. I'm a freelancer, not on a contract with set hours. 

 

Thankfully everyone has been very understanding about the two major surgeries I've had this year, I notified everyone several weeks ahead and no one expected me to work in the time period I'd set out. Of course I got bored quickly and was back to working on small tasks within a couple of days, instead of weeks. 

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 12

Lexidh S wrote:
But every time it's the same, if I'm not available, it's like their whole world is falling apart and it is implied that I'm the worst freelancer ever.


Then you are either choosing the wrong clients or not managing them right.

 

I've never had anything of the sort in well over 200 contracts.

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Ace Contributor
Lexidh S Member Since: Mar 21, 2018
5 of 12

Petra R wrote:

Lexidh S wrote:
But every time it's the same, if I'm not available, it's like their whole world is falling apart and it is implied that I'm the worst freelancer ever.


Then you are either choosing the wrong clients or not managing them right.

 

I've never had anything of the sort in well over 200 contracts.


I manage them just fine, I don't give in to their absurd, implied demands. The very worst of the lot still give me work, every week. Others have probably found some other pushovers, that demand less pay and are more willing to accomodate their time schedule at all times.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 12

Lexidh S wrote:

Petra R wrote:

Lexidh S wrote:
But every time it's the same, if I'm not available, it's like their whole world is falling apart and it is implied that I'm the worst freelancer ever.


Then you are either choosing the wrong clients or not managing them right.

 

I've never had anything of the sort in well over 200 contracts.


I manage them just fine, I don't give in to their absurd, implied demands.


Fine. If you enjoy working with people like that, there is no problem, is there?

I don't enjoy working with people who treat me like dirt, so I don't.

 

 

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Ace Contributor
Lexidh S Member Since: Mar 21, 2018
7 of 12

Petra R wrote:

Lexidh S wrote:

Petra R wrote:

Lexidh S wrote:
But every time it's the same, if I'm not available, it's like their whole world is falling apart and it is implied that I'm the worst freelancer ever.


Then you are either choosing the wrong clients or not managing them right.

 

I've never had anything of the sort in well over 200 contracts.


I manage them just fine, I don't give in to their absurd, implied demands.


Fine. If you enjoy working with people like that, there is no problem, is there?

I don't enjoy working with people who treat me like dirt, so I don't.


What's up with the negativity? There is no problem. I'm available when I am available, nothing more, nothing less. I was just asking how available others are, and what their clients want. 

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Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
8 of 12

Clients' expectations need to be managed, which can be easier said than done. This starts before I agree to a new contract.

 

I set boundaries before a project even starts by telling clients I expect to spend no more than 10 -15 hours per week on their project. This is mostly useful for hourly clients whose projects will likely last three to four weeks, but I also set and stick to milestones that are reasonably scheduled on fixed price jobs. 

 

I do try to be responsive - as in usually answering questions via email - 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Answering an email does not mean I'll actually do work on a project, however. That may have to wait until I am "back in the office."

 

If I'm going to take some time away or be very busy during a certain period, I let my clients know ahead of time, so they can tell me about any work they'll need done before then.

 

Weekends are for family, but I often get some work done to keep my slower projects or urgent projects moving along.

 

If your clients are constantly wanting you to work to tight but unscheduled deadlines, I hope you find a way to break them of that habit. It's rarely unavoidable for responsible adults.

 

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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
9 of 12

I'm as available as I decide to be, and it varies from day to day and week to week. I train clients from the get-go not to expect one-hour response time as a matter of course, and to understand that 'urgent' is not a default setting with me. If there is truly a need for speed, we articulate it and I accommodate it (or nudge/drag them along to accommodae it). But I never let a client assume we're going to be working at urgent speed unless they request it and we mutually agree it's necessary and appropriate. By 'urgent speed' I mean keeping their project front and center all day or all week, communicating frequently and mostly in real time, etc. I have actually turned down a few sweet projects lately because the clients didn't plan ahead and need the work done (1) too fast, and (2) too soon. My calendar is mostly full already, and all of the projects scheduled or ongoing would suffer if I crammed a fire-drill project into the schedule.

 

It can be tricky with clients in distant time zones. Enforcing time/access boundaries with them requires making yourself completely indispensible in every other way, by solving their problems better than any other FL would or could. 

 

UW is not a vending machine. And FLs are not indentured servants. We are business owners balancing obligations to clients with obligations to other clients, to ourselves, to our families, friends, communities, etc. Projecting that demeanor helps attract clients who will respect us as such and engage accordingly. Clients who don't want to do that--who want us answering messages and picking up the phone at their whim--are better left in thd dust.

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I have my private clients and I'm also a Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, so I'm running around a lot.

I check UW every day. I'm very present for clients here, but set the ground rules before I accept a contract.

Right now, I'm on my sun porch having morning coffee and my cat is enjoying the sunshine.

I always have my phone so the app is always there for me to check in and respond if needed.

Life is good.
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