Freelance self care rules you should never break

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You really thought you could get away with it, eh?

Treating yourself like a mindless worker bee. Like a piece of white collar trash.

Not on my watch, pal!

I've pulled together a list of self care rules which can help you look out for yourself, while boosting your productivity and general work satisfaction.


1. Stick to a proper pre-work morning routine

I've said this before and I'll say it again: morning routines are magic. They set up your entire day and determine your entire mindset.

Get yourself off to a strong start by making sure you wake up at a regular time, eat a proper breakfast, shower (soz, bro) and sit down to your desk at a set time. If morning routines don't make you feel a million times better and a million times more productive, I'll eat my hat.*


2. Don't work with anyone that makes you feel like crap

As a freelancer, you have the right to pick and choose who you work with. I know — wild, isn't it? In my humble opinion, it's a right we don't exercise often enough.

Keep an eye out for red flags during the prospecting or onboarding process; if that shit don't feel right, dish out a polite 'no'. If you get further down the line and the relationship has turned slightly toxic (for whatever reason), you're allowed to end it.

You're not being a dick.

You're not being ungrateful.

You're just looking out for yourself, bro. And that's perfectly fine.


3. Never take feedback to heart

This rule is so much easier to write than it is to live by. I'm a fine one to talk when it comes to taking feedback in professional stride because I'm very easily shattered. Here's the thing — negative feedback is about the work, not about you personally. You need the feedback to develop and grow. If the client is giving feedback which errs on being a personal attack, you may want to reconsider working with them in future (see point 2)!


4. Lunch breaks are necessary

Lunch isn't a luxury. You need to give your brain a break and, if you're anything like me, get the hell outside for a few minutes. It'll do wondrous things for your mood and your PM positivity. You need food and you need a break. It's non-negotiable.

Put down that goddamned pen and pick up a sandwich.


5. If it ain't coming, don't force it

Bad things happen when you strain too hard, you get me?

If you're struggling through the day and really can't find a single scrap of creativity or motivation, you need to be kind to yourself. Accept that it isn't happening for you today and switch to a task you know you can do — outlining the structure of a blog post, completing the keyword research, making a content plan, sorting out your bookkeeping etc. Choose something you know you cando and leave your tough task for later.


6. Asking for help is okay

Struggling with a client or having a shitty time pitching for work? Yeah, man. We've all been there.

The freelance community is bitchin as hell and there are plenty of 'colleagues' who are willing to give you tips, advice, support and feedback, all you need to do is ask. Try joining with #ContentClubUK on a Tuesday at 11am, popping along to #CopywritersUnite evening meet-ups, or joining ProCopywriters. We're all here to help!


7. Holidays are essential

...yeah, that includes weekends and bank holidays. You aren't a robot, babe — we all need a break sometimes and it is possible to step away from the keyboard without the world ending. Make sure you make time in your schedule for the odd week off to charge your creative batteries. Your work will be all the better for it, promise.


8. Keep work for working hours

Oi, you! Stop checking your emails while you're at the dinner table or chilling with friends at the weekend. Make sure you're saving work chat for working hours unless it's absolutely essential that you respond immediately. Answering enquiries out of hours encourages antisocial behaviour from colleagues and clients, so make sure you keep it in check from the start!



*I don't own any hats, but I'll eat something like a hat.

Emma Cownley