How to Avoid Working Weekends as a Web Copy Writer

7 May

The thing about web copy writing is that it’s one of those careers that has endless work coming in. Combined with clients who want everything “yesterday” and you have a recipe for stress. When I first started out as a Charleston web copy writer, I often found myself taking on way too much work and trying to meet unrealistic deadlines in an attempt to impress my new clients. While I have always prided myself on fast turnaround, sometimes I bit off more than I could chew and found myself working on the weekends to catch up. After a few months of this, I was ready for the looney bin! So I decided to take a step back and figure out why I wasn’t able to get the work done during the week.

Some of the reasons I often ended up working weekends were:

  • Too much work and no one to help out.
  • Deadlines too close together on multiple clients.
  • Bad habits from when I worked full time and wrote in the evenings/on weekends.
  • Procrastinating on big projects until I was days away from deadlines.
  • Too many distractions in my life – the phone, email, facebook, family, etc.

So after going through this scenario over the course of a year of writing, I started to feel majorly burned out. My family was also getting pretty mad at me for spending every waking hour on my laptop banging out articles and web copy. My house was a disaster zone from all the housework and laundry piling up. I had next to no social life and was getting very pale from being stuck in my home office for weeks on end. Something seriously had to give!

Finally, I came up with a little system which has worked for me ever since. Here’s what I recommend for any web copy writer who wants to avoid working on weekends:

Make a schedule and stick to it. I use my Google calendar A LOT. If something comes up, I check my calendar first before I tell a client when I can meet for coffee, have a project done, and other things that take up my time. Clients are generally understanding that I have other projects on my plate so they are willing to wait a reasonable amount of time to get quality results from me.

Be realistic about what you can do. Sometimes I have thought of myself as super-woman and have taken on projects that were a wee bit too technical for me. I like the challenge apparently! When this has happened in the past, I have spent way too many hours trying to figure something out for the benefit of a client, because I always bend over backwards for people. That means I probably didn’t make a real profit on some of that work. Instead, now I take on projects I know I can do a great job on and pass others onto colleagues who are better at things I cannot do.

Ask for help when needed. One of the biggest pitfalls of being a freelancer is having the sense of responsibilty for everything. When I accept a project, I do it 100% to the best of my abilities. This can lead to stress, however, when life’s little emergencies happens. That’s when someone close to me suggested “why not ask for help?”. So I found a couple of fantastic freelance writers and have asked them for help on occasion. That keeps me from doing overtime on weekends.

Reduce self-defeating habits from my week. Perhaps the biggest reason I used to work a lot of weekends was because I goofed around on the computer all week, chatting with friends, checking out community forums, and basically procrastinating. So, I started using a timer and working in chunks of time, without distractions or allowing myself to surf the net. Once the work is done, then I have time to play a little. I find that I spend less time working on weekends when I remove these self-defeating activities from my work week.

What are some other suggestions you can think of that will help you be more productive during the week so you spend less time working on weekends? Please leave your suggestions and comments below!

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4 Responses to “How to Avoid Working Weekends as a Web Copy Writer”

  1. Kristi Bernard May 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    I think the google calendar is a great idea and it can be shared with others. I also like to have an article writing day set aside so that I only work on creating those. I post them as drafts and when I need them I just push the publish button and move along. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tia Bach May 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Great advice! And really this can apply to ANY job. I’m going to print this list and pin it up over my desk, where all good advice goes!

  3. Lisa Carter May 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    Excellent advice, Tess. Working as a freelance translator seems to have many of the same pitfalls! I don’t know how often someone has contacted me at 4 pm on Friday for a job due Monday at 8 am. When I do find I have to work one or both days on the weekend to meet a client’s demands, I make sure that I replace that day with a day off during the week. For example, I’ll work tomorrow (Sunday) but take Monday off instead — after I deliver that job in the morning!

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