When to Let That Client or Project Go

Saying no can move you forward in your writing pursuits.

I know it’s exciting when an opportunity pops up, or a client wants an ongoing relationship, but is it in your best interest? Does it move you closer to your goals? Are you enjoying what you’re working on?

Not always.

In December 2017, I wrote 4 Reasons to Fire Crappy Clients, with a nod to the unprofessional ways some publishers treat writers. I explain how some stop communicating part-way through a project; bait and switch aspects of the projects including pay or article requirements; disappear when it’s time to cut a check or simply don’t communicate in a professional, respectful way. Yes, it’s sad.

Today’s post looks the other direction. At you.

This list is meant to help you reflect on your current writing projects and partnerships to ensure that you’re getting the most enjoyment out of the work you do while hitting your writing goals, which may be related to finances, project completion or personal growth.

If you sigh each time a certain name pops into your email, or you dread the hours blocked out to work on a specific project, pause and reassess the situation. Ask yourself these questions.

Am I moving closer to my writing goals?

In the beginning, it’s tempting to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. I did that in my first few years as a full-time content marketing writer and actually enjoyed the experience. I ended up researching topics that expanded my views and interests — which was a goal at that time.

Now, after establishing a solid client list and recurring projects, I’m more selective. The projects I pursue need to help me reach my income goals, align with my interests or help me grow in my writing and business skills.

Before this realization, I was working far too many hours without a clear direction for my business, which took a toll on my health.

Identify your goals and stick to them.

Do I have a life beyond my keyboard?

Setting boundaries is a critical daily practice when growing a business. If you don’t, there are some clients or personal projects who will take every hour you give them. This leads to mental and physical burnout, exhaustion and upset over the work you do.

Then, you can’t work well. Your writing suffers.

Know your boundaries, and guard them with all you’ve got. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How will you spend yours? Can you find a balance among writing work, time for the ones you love, hobbies, daily responsibilities and self-care?

Am I enjoying what I’m working on?

When you’re dependent on paid writing work to put food on the table, it’s easy to say yes to opportunities with great rates and overlook the other aspects that make a project worth doing.

Do you genuinely enjoy the topic enough to do your best work? Is your contact helpful and professional? Do you have the time to do the work without sacrificing other commitments? Is the pay rate realistically compensating you for the actual time invested, including pitching, revisions, outlines, emails and calls to discuss the project?

I hope these questions shifted your mindset. You are your number one business asset. Without a healthy, happy you, your best words and ideas won’t flow. Always take your goals, commitments beyond the keyboard and personal growth into consideration.

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6 Tips for Working From a Hotel Room

We're an increasingly mobile society. That often means working away from our desks and at odd hours of the day. I too am a digital nomad. Today I'm writing from a hotel room on a laptop.  http://wp.me/p3QyJU-jR

We’re an increasingly mobile society. That often means working away from our desks and at odd hours of the day. I too am a digital nomad. Today I’m writing from a hotel room on a laptop. http://wp.me/p3QyJU-jR

We’re an increasingly mobile society. That often means working away from our desks and at odd hours of the day.

I too am a digital nomad.

Today I’m writing from a hotel room on a laptop. I’m squeezing in a few hours of work before visiting an ill relative this evening. It’s really a win-win. I can meet my deadlines and make time for family.

But working from a hotel room does come with a few challenges — and perks. So, here’s a few first hand tips from me to you.

1. Make sure the hotel offers WiFi before booking the room. Since we seem to have Internet access 24/7, it can be shocking when you plug-in your laptop and find out that use of the WiFi service costs an additional fee (I paid a $20 per day resort fee in Las Vegas to have unlimited WiFi access), isn’t available at the moment (my current service is spotty and unpredictable), or simply isn’t offered.

2. Use the Do Not Disturb sign. Having a housekeeper walk in while you’re conducting a phone interview is awkward and I’m sure sounds super unprofessional to the person on the other end of the phone.

3. Close the windows during calls. Even if you’re enjoying a lovely breeze, you never know when an emergency vehicle will drive by with its sirens screaming or, if you’re on the ground level, someone will walk by the room while engaged in a conversation using only 4-letter words.

4. Get cozy. There are no rules against rearranging your hotel room. Go ahead and move the desk near a window or closer to power outlets. Do whatever will make you most productive. Just remember to move the furniture back at the end of your stay.

5. Explore your surroundings. Some hotels offer business centers with larger work spaces in a quiet zone. Find out the hours for these areas and if there is a fee to use them. Some larger hotels also offer basic business services including photocopying and dry cleaning drop off. At smaller hotels, scout out vacant breakfast rooms for mid-way work sessions.

6. Define your goals. Before you dive into your work, know what you want to accomplish, or what must get done. I find the seclusion very boring, which means I actually get a lot done if I have a “To Do” list to guide me. There are no dogs craving my attention or piles of laundry staring me down. Just my laptop.

So, do you work-on-the-go too? Tell me in the comments below some of your tips for getting work done when you’re away from your usual work environment.

Finding Balance in Life as an Entrepreneur

How do I find balance? Well, I'm still looking for the perfect breakdown of time, but I have found a few ways to make sure I don't spend all my waking hours at my desk or behind the laptop. Photo credit: Flickr

How do I find balance? Well, I’m still looking for the perfect breakdown of time, but I have found a few ways to make sure I don’t spend all my waking hours at my desk or behind the laptop. Photo credit: Flickr

When you’re a business of one, when does the work day end, and personal life begin?

It’s such a blurry line.

Lately the two have been ebbing and flowing. I often write first-person blog posts for clients about things that happen in my personal life.

Last week after a good 20-minute rambling about my career, a friend looked at me and asked one incredibly difficult question.

“Angie, How do you turn it all off at night?”

He went on to find out how I strike a balance between my personal life and all the responsibilities that pile up for small business owners.

My quick answer was, “I don’t check my email after I leave my desk.”

But, that’s not always true. I’m always wondering if that last-minute source has emailed yet or if a client has an answer to a question I sent over earlier in the day. Why? Because my mind is still spinning.

I’m always thinking of article topics and ideas. Who should I send my next proposal to? Would this weekend’s events make a good story for any of my current clients? Oh, I better take my camera in case I might need pictures of X,Y, or Z for an upcoming story!

There goes that balance again. Since my writing is often personal and very focused on my lifestyle, it’s no surprise it’s hard to simply “turn it off” at night.

So, how do I find balance? Well, I’m still looking for the perfect breakdown of time, but I have found a few ways to make sure I don’t spend all my waking hours at my desk or behind the laptop. I purposely make time for me as an individual; as a family member and wife; and for myself as an entrepreneur.

Balancing Home and Work Life

I am hopelessly addicted to Google Calendar. I absolutely love that it reminds me of everything from social engagements to project deadlines. Without it, I’d be lost. Or, go back to using a paper calendar filled with eraser marks and colorful highlighted text.

Time for Me
Each day I schedule something that’s just for me. Whether it improves my physical health or mental clarity, it’s my “me” time. On Thursdays it’s a yoga class. On Monday I fit an aquatic exercise class into my day. Sometimes it’s something as simple as taking a nap without regrets.

Time for You
Even though my smartphone beeps with notifications from my professional social media accounts hourly, I ignore them to be fully in the moment when I’m doing something special with family and friends. Evenings are spent taking walks with the hubby and our two dogs, or doing yard work together — without checking messages every few minutes.

Time for Work

Even though I’m my own boss, I keep a schedule. Without it I wouldn’t get as much done or be as successful. This is the other side of the teeter-totter. Balancing home and work life requires me to be very strict, diligent and focused. When it’s time to work, I’m working. I don’t accept personal phone calls or check my personal email while I’m writing.

So, how do you balance home and work life? I’d love to hear your work-life balance tips and ideas in the comments below. Thank you!

Avoid Writer’s Butt and Hermit Habits

If I had a nickel for every person who croons over the awesomeness of working from home, I wouldn’t need to type another paid word, ever.

I can't complain about working in my yellow ducky slippers or taking a lunch break in the backyard with my pups. But, working from home has challenges. I'm prone to writer's butt and hermit habits.

I can’t complain about working in my yellow ducky slippers or taking a lunch break in the backyard with my pups. But, working from home has challenges. I’m prone to writer’s butt and hermit habits. Image Credit: Angela Tague

Writers work from wherever their keyboard or notepad takes them. But honestly, I usually stay home. I have limitless snacks, cute dog co-workers and I get to pick the channel on the radio. It’s a pretty sweet situation.

I can’t complain about working in my yellow ducky slippers or taking a lunch break in the backyard with my pups. But, working from home has challenges.

I’m prone to writer’s butt and hermit habits.

The other day the lifeguard at my gym asked about my schedule and shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t understand why I’d ever leave the house. He said he could never work from home because he’d never see daylight.

I’ve heard this concern before from freelancers of all types.

You want to invest every ounce of creativity and energy into your work, and you forget to have a life. That leads to an ever-expanding rear (fat, you get fat people!) and your interpersonal social skills go out the window.

Yes, I’ve forgotten to brush my hair a few times and I’ve worn the same outfit two days in a row. It happens when inspiration strikes and I need to hide in my cocoon–also known as a home office.

But that’s not healthy.

For those of you who read my writing, aside from this blog, you know I’m all about living a healthy lifestyle. Food. Exercise. Socializing. All that jazz.

So, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone if you’ve noticed a few extra pounds creep up and a few less friends calling since you’ve chosen to become an entrepreneur.

So, how do you juggle working from home and maintaining a life? Get out of the house! Add an activity to your to do list that requires you to put on real clothes (don’t groan) and lock the door behind you.

Here’s 9 ways to balance work and life

1. Volunteer in your community. Meet people, make friends and do some good. I love spending time helping a few local animal rescue groups.

2. Schedule lunch dates. You can’t eat leftovers nuked in the microwave daily. Treat yourself to a meal out with a buddy a few times each month.

3. Go shopping. No, don’t spend every cent you’ve earned. Take up the art of browsing!

4. Sign up for a gym membership. I swim three to four times a week to keep my rear in check and retain my ability to speak to real people in complete sentences.

5. Visit a family member. If you have aging parents or grandparents, make it a point to spend time with them. After work, pack up the kiddos and a casserole and enjoy the evening together.

6. Take a walk. My two dogs expect exercise during my lunch break. If you don’t have a dog, think about adopting one. They’re great co-workers who work for belly rubs and treats.

7. Play a game. If you have mobility issues, or limited transportation, stay home and exercise. Try using the Wii Fit or play the Just Dance games. Do as much or as little as you want. Just move!

8. Schedule a friend’s night out. Get a group together for a fancy dinner or concert. Catch up on all the news you’ve missed during your periods of solitude.

9. Take a class. Sign up for a 6-week art class or a 2-hour seminar on photography at the local community college to open your mind, get you out of the house and spark a few writing topics, too!

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What are you waiting for? Ready. Set. Go!

Note: This blog post was updated on April 12. 2017.

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