Balancing Paid and Unpaid Work

At this moment in time, I have lots of paid editing work booked in for the next few months – which is really, really awesome!

I’m used to a fortnightly schedule, whereby every other Friday, I’m in a position of all my client projects coming to an end, with nothing booked in for the following week. And that’s how my freelance life has been for the last three years.

And yes, I’ve been doing this for more than three years now, since I started my first ever paid freelance editing job on 28 April 2021!

The reason my schedule has always been so short is because I get most of my client projects from Upwork, and most of the people who post jobs there want their editor to start and finish as soon as physically possible. Now, I’m quite a speedy editor, so that’s worked out fine for me. And I love variety, so lots of relatively short (and very different) project also suits me really well.

But – it can make things rather stressful, if everything is always coming to an end, because it’s hard to pitch reliably for projects that need to start immediately.

Anyway, somehow, I’ve now ended up in a position of having lots of work planned over a comparatively long period of time. There’s the usual short-term Upwork projects, one of which is ending on Friday… But there are another few that are being spread out over several weeks, so I can plan ahead and book them in ahead of time.

Then there’s the massive project that’s going to take about two months, all told, so that’s extending my booking schedule much further into the future than I’m used to.

On top of that, I’ve got repeat Upwork clients who have said they’ll have work for me in May, June or July (though whether or not those will come to fruition remains to be seen…).

And then there are my non-Upwork clients! I’ve got a project starting soon with a member of one of my mastermind groups, which should be fun. I’ve got work coming up that’s being outsourced from my own editor. I’ve got a project for a friend who’s writing a roleplaying source book and is hiring me to copy edit… And all those are being planned well in advance, which is nice.

However, the drawback is that I’m suddenly feeling a bit under pressure to work harder than I usually do, because of the density of projects – especially the two-month one, which the client is keen for me to finish ‘as soon as possible’.

So, I decided to extend my working schedule to do four hours of paid client work in the mornings, instead of three. That’s not going as well as I’d hoped, though I am sometimes managing to fit the extra time in.

But, somehow, doing one extra hour of work I really enjoy is destroying my motivation to work on my own projects in the afternoons even more than usual!

Luckily, I still have my stalwart focus buddies to help keep me on track, so I’m managing to get some things done. I’m prioritising revising my novel over any other projects because I really want to finish that some time in June.

And I’m also giving myself permission to let some things go, to take time off if I need it, and to remember that self-care and rest are extremely important and also productive.

But fitting in – paid client work, my own projects (novel, podcasts, reading, business development, book marketing), exercise routines, going out for walks, meditation, yoga, catching up with friends and family, etc, etc – is hard!

For the moment, if I can keep up with the client work and also keep making stead progress on the novel, I figure that’s enough and everything else can slide for a few weeks (apart from the social media/newsletter/podcast schedules, of course…).

And I’m really, really not complaining! After more than three years, it still amazes me that I get to make a decent wage doing something I love and seem to be good at. There are many, many things in my life to be grateful for and appreciative of, and I do my best to remember that every day.


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