Ah boundaries, they can be such a tricky thing to define. Do you have a client relationship that has gone on for a while that the line between personal and professional has become blurred and problematic? Do they expect you to answer the phone at 10pm or add on extra tasks as a casual unpaid request? In these cases, it’s a good idea to reset your client relationships. Here are some tips on how to do so…
Hold an annual review for both parties
Email the client and let them know that you’d like to conduct an annual review – this could be in person or over zoom. It will typically last 30 or 45 minutes. Explain that this isn’t unique to them and that you are doing so with all your clients. Remind them that it is a chance for both of you to bring up issues on your ends. By prompting the client to share any concerns they have, it will seem much more natural and reasonable for you to bring up issues at your end.
Set a reminder of your boundaries
This can seem daunting but here’s how to approach it. Rather than be defensive and aggressive, you need to strike a calm, assertive, and constructive tone. Say “I’ve had a look at what isn’t working and to become more efficient, here’s what I’d like to do” instead of “this is how I’ll be running my business from now on”.
Discuss expectations on both ends
Oftentimes, clients are not aware of how much time it takes to do a job. For this reason, the freelancer must spell out that they require X number of working days following feedback to provide amended work.
Respect your free time and protect it at all costs
Clients need to be reminded that you’re not a robot. Give them a fair warning by emailing them reminder emails that you’ll be away on those particular dates or unavailable at particular times. This email is best sent within the hour after the review so that they may refer to it.
Be prepared to lose the client
Honestly, some clients just aren’t worth the headache. If they don’t respect your boundaries they’re most likely not worth the time and effort – plus you will be sure to find another client out there and even if it’s slightly less money, it will make you happier in the long run.