6 min read

Boundaries Grow Your Business and Create Client Superfans

Boundaries Grow Your Business and Create Client Superfans
Photo by Marek Studzinski / Unsplash

Establishing clear boundaries with clients isn't just necessary for your peace of mind—it's a strategic move that helps you turn your writing business into a sustainable success.

Imagine you're enjoying a peaceful morning coffee, ready to start writing, when suddenly you get an email asking for something right now, messing up your whole plan for the day. Sound familiar?

It’s happened to me. I think it happens to all writers at some point. Early on in my business, I felt obligated to meet every demand at the expense of my own goals and sanity. When I started setting boundaries, all of that changed.

In this article, we'll look at easy ways to set simple and fair boundaries that help you keep control of your time and make your writing work better. Let’s find out why saying "no" is actually the best thing you can do!

Know Your Limits

First, figure out what you can realistically handle as far as client work goes. This includes how many projects you can take on at once and how quickly you can complete them.

Think about how much time you want to spend writing, revising, and communicating with clients each day. I can usually write productively for about four hours a day. Anything after that isn't my best work and it requires extra time for editing and revising

Remember, it’s important to leave some room in your schedule for breaks and unexpected tasks that might pop up. And for actually running your business!

Once you know what you can do, you can start setting rules for how you want to do it.

Communicate Clearly and Proactively

Part of that how should include communication. You must nail down how to you are going to communicate with clients. Even if you are an introvert!

When you start working with a new client, be very clear about your boundaries. Those should include your availability, your working/response hours, and how long it typically takes you to complete assignments.

If you don’t work on weekends and they want to send a project that's due on Monday on a Friday afternoon, you need to let them know you only work on business days.

If you need at least three days (or a week, which is my minimum for regular rates) to complete assignments, you need to tell them that. Especially if they want the project in two days. Tighter deadlines should come with rush fees.

The key is to communicate these details upfront to avoid misunderstandings later.

I have a client onboarding email I send for simple projects and an onboarding packet I use for more complex projects. Each includes the basics of how I work with my clients, how they can contact me, my response times and working hours, and a restatement of the project details to make sure we are on the same page.

Learn to Say No

It can be hard to turn down work or say no to a client request, especially when you’re excited about growing your business. But taking on too much can lead to burnout and might even affect the quality of your work.

If a project doesn't fit into your schedule or doesn't align with your business goals, it's okay to say no. Just do it professionally.

You might even offer to refer the client to another writer who could be a better fit. That’s what I prefer to do.

I want to encourage you to embrace no as one of your favorite words when it comes to your business. Instead of giving a knee-jerk yes when a potential client asks for something, be willing to say to say no if it doesn't feel like a good fit. Trust your instincts!

I don't always say no right away. I like to tell clients that I'll look at my availability and the project and get back to them within 24 hours. That gives me time to consider the pros and cons of certain projects and to formulate a thoughtful response.

Helping You Master Content Strategy Creation For Your Writing Clients

Set Up a Process and Stick to Your Policies

Develop a standard process for how you handle projects.

This might include steps like an initial consultation, a timeline for drafts, and specific times when you’ll check emails.

Having a process not only makes your workday smoother but also shows your clients that you are organized and professional.

Then, once you’ve decided on your process and set your boundaries, stick to them. This might be challenging at first, especially if you’re used to accommodating every request. However, your clients will respect you more if they see that you are consistent and fair in your policies. If exceptions must be made, let them be just that—exceptions, not the rule.

Be Professional in Enforcing Boundaries

If a client repeatedly tries to push beyond your boundaries, remind them of your policies professionally and firmly.

If necessary, be prepared to part ways with clients who do not respect your boundaries. I know. That sounds scary. Firing clients is one of my least favorite things to do (which is why I'm so careful who I choose as a client), but when I have to do it I do it for the good of my business. And I always stay professional and kind. Don't burn bridges if you can help it.

Keeping clients who push your boundaries and eat up your time is unfair to your other clients. You are taking away time and attention you could be paying to their projects.

And remember, your well-being and the quality of your work are more important than any single project!

Adjust as Needed

Your boundaries might need to change as your business grows and shifts. You should regularly review your process and your client relationships and adjust your boundaries if necessary.

Maybe you find you can handle more work if you focus on writing only a few days a week and take Fridays off. Or perhaps you decide to narrow your focus to a specific niche or a specific type of client and that requires changing up a few things

Updating your boundaries will help you keep your business on track and your work life manageable.

If you struggle with setting boundaries, here are a few books (all with affiliate links) that might help:

In Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge, Dr. Henry Cloud explains how the best leaders set boundaries to improve performance and increase satisfaction.

If being too nice is what you struggle with, Dr. Aziz Gazipura tells you how to be "the most bold, expressive, authentic version of you" in Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty... And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself. Just remember to stay professional!

I'm a huge fan of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. The tools provided in this book are especially good for those more difficult client conversations or when the stakes are high. Bonus, it's great for your personal life as well!

The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal Save The Relationship and Still Say No is all about saying no without ruining potential business relationships. This is especially helpful when you need to enforce a known boundary.

If you feel like negotiating with your clients is a constant battle, check out Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss. Voss shares what he learned during years of negotiating life or death decisions in the most tense situations. Hopefully your negotiations aren't as stressful, and they for sure won't be if you read this book and apply the principles Voss shares.

Protecting Yourself and Your Business

Setting healthy boundaries for your business makes sure you have the space to think creatively and get your work done.

You’ll want to periodically adjust your boundaries to fit your needs (your needs will change over time). Putting boundaries in place and sticking to them will help you manage your time better and improve your relationships with your clients.

Think of your boundaries as tools that help you grow your writing business into something that benefits both you and your clients.

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