Freelance Friday: Freelance Burnout and 10 Ways to Prevent It

January 13th, 2017 by Chris Henson

This blog is part of our Freelance Friday series, where we discuss everything and anything related to freelancing. If you are a freelance writer and are looking for additional work, consider applying at Search Influence.

Freelancing may seem like an easy, carefree gig to those not in-the-know. You get to work when and where you want and are free to do whatever you want at the drop of a hat.

But actual freelance writers know that this is certainly not the case. Freelancing can be just as time-consuming and demanding as any office job. We, too, are prone to feeling overworked, overextended, and altogether overwhelmed.

In fact, since so much of the responsibility is placed squarely on their shoulders, many freelancers feel obligated to work and work and work long after 9–5 Monday through Friday. This can ultimately lead to freelancer burnout.

Image Of An Overworked Freelancer At His Desk - Search Influence

Freelancer burnout is more than just “writer’s block”­—it’s something more oppressing and potentially dangerous to you and your freelancing career. Burnout can lead to a creative motivational block, which in turn, can impede your work and affect your income!

Thankfully, there are a few things freelance writers can do to avoid this breakdown. Here are 10 tips to prevent freelancer burnout!

1: Stay Organized

Organization helps in all facets of life, and freelancing is no exclusion. Know what needs to be done and when, establish priorities, keep emails in order, etc. Getting organized makes you feel proactive and sets you up for success.

2: Stick to a Schedule

Just because freelancing affords you more flexibility in your work schedule doesn’t mean you can be nonchalant and lackadaisical. An easy-to-follow plan of action will not only help you keep due dates in order and your agenda under control, but it will also help you manage the proper work-life balance needed to prevent burnout.

Working At An Office Job - Search Influence

3: Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You Need to Finish Your Freelance Projects

You may think it takes a certain amount of time to write a blog post, but who knows what curveballs might be thrown your way. Maybe you will have trouble getting started or locating a source you know you have seen before. It’s always best to be prepared (as best you can) for the unknown.

4: Know Your Limits

Don’t overcommit. It’s easy to make promises to impress clients, but keeping those promises can be a lot more work. Don’t say yes to everything, and don’t put extra pressure on yourself to get more done or get things done quicker. You know how much you can write in a day. Get the work done on time, and most importantly, get it done well—those are the only things you should ever guarantee.

5: Set Mini Goals

It is always best to divide up larger projects into more manageable parts. In conjunction with your schedule, set up achievable milestones throughout the day, week, and month. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you stay on track while keeping the bigger picture in your mind.

Johnny Depp Strategizing With A Slinky - Search Influence

6: Don’t Give in to Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is legit, but there are ways you can work around it. Don’t just keep plugging away and turning out pages of dribble. Put the assignment to the side and get your blood flowing—go for a walk or a run, try a new environment, write about something else. Stir your creative juices and come back to your project with a refreshed mind and reinvigorated determination.

7: Take Care of Yourself

You can’t sit in front of the computer all day. Don’t overwork yourself. As a freelancer, you are your only workforce­—and you don’t get paid sick days! Eat properly and exercise. Do right by yourself and it will show in your writing. Here are 8 tips for freelancers to stay healthy and happy.

8: Switch It Up 

Change is good. Whether you take your work to a new location (like the library or a coffee shop) or tackle an entirely different project, it will usually help. Remember, freelancing offers you the freedom to do things like this that other workers can’t, so take advantage of it!

9: Build a Support Network

Freelancing can be an isolated career. Without colleagues to interact with and vent work-related frustrations to, stress—and even depression—can creep into your day-to-day. Try seeking out other freelancers (there are tons of us out there) in various forums online and local meetup groups. Finding people that understand what you are going through is the best way to tackle any struggle, including burnout.

10: Reevaluate Your Freelancer Goals

Are you focused too hard on a specific niche? Then expand your horizons. Are you spreading yourself too thin? Then try honing in on what you do best. Depending on your situation, change can be liberating. Focusing your time and energy on one expertise can help you enjoy your work and find more appropriate clients, while trying new things can keep you stimulated and multi-faceted.