Balancing Act: The Honest Reality of Work-Life Balance in My First Year of Copywriting

As you may have seen in my recent post, my copywriting business recently turned one, so this is the perfect time to share how that first year has gone, the highs, the lows and everything in between.

If you’ve followed along, you might have caught wind of my journey starting Clare H Writes. I certainly didn’t start 2022 thinking I would be leaving the world of banking and finance behind, but once I made that decision, there was no going back, and I often wonder why I hadn’t done it sooner.

I hit the ground running by helping some people I knew with web copy and social media posts for their businesses. I was eager to learn and would spend endless hours honing my skills. Whether it was scouting for tips from fellow writers on various websites or binge-listening to podcasts, I soaked up every bit of wisdom I could find.

I didn’t even have a chance to set any business goals or have any expectations; I was just happy to be doing something I love every day.

I got my first client, who gave me consistent regular work and still does to this day. I was initially anxious. What if I made a horrific mistake in their web copy? Or worse, what if I misspelled something? Imposter syndrome hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t just my ego on the line; it was my reputation, my business. One wrong move could’ve flipped the whole script, and not in a good way.

Luckily, I soon found my groove, and it wasn’t long before I took on more clients, bringing new challenges. I now felt comfortable with the work and had been dedicating a few hours a day to each client, and now my days were full of different projects.

Of course, this was great, but learning how to switch hats took some time, from writing about a construction company to writing about beauty procedures. Different days could bring not only various topics but also other types of writing. Some days would be blog posts, some newsletters, and some social media posts.

No day was ever the same, and while I did find that enjoyable, something I couldn’t find was my off switch. I would still be at my desk at 8pm trying to squeeze as much in as possible, and when I wasn’t working, I would be learning. I would spend the hours away from my desk reading about writing, and when I wasn’t doing that, I would write my own blog posts. Even when I was away on holiday, it consumed me, but I was passionate about it.

Working for yourself comes with perks, but it also means there’s no clear boundary between work and personal time. No boss is signaling the end of the workday, no train to catch. You’re already home.

Over time, exhaustion crept in. I was constantly fatigued, easily irritable, and found it hard to focus. My body protested from being glued to screens and hunched over my desk. That’s when it hit me—I was on the brink of burnout.

I decided to set myself working hours. I began my days by going out for a walk each morning before diving into work. I gave myself a small non-work-related activity that I enjoyed at the end of each day, such as cooking dinner, reading a book or catching up on a TV program which would get me away from my desk and thoughts of work.

I stopped checking my emails outside of working hours and started having weekends off and taking days off when I needed to instead of trying to cram my work around other things I had planned. I scheduled time in my week to do admin tasks such as sending invoices and doing my finances, and I also scheduled writing time to write blog posts for my personal blog and my business page.

By setting these boundaries, I had some much-needed downtime. I discovered that my productivity soared by working fewer hours but with a clearer mind.

I’m still figuring out what works best for me, and that’s okay. In this line of work, flexibility is key. Priorities shift, and projects have their unique demands, but that’s the beauty of growth—both in business and as individuals.

As I reflect on the past year, one thing’s for sure: Life’s about evolving, and I’m excited for the journey ahead—both in growing my business and personal growth. Here’s to embracing the changes and discovering what lies beyond in the next chapter!

Unlocking the Freelancer’s Motivation: 5 Tips for Success

Time management and organisation have always been my super skills. As a former 9-to-5 **employee, it came very easily to me. After all, in the corporate world, everything was neatly laid out for me – working hours, processes, procedures, you name it. But freelancing? That’s a whole different ball game.

I quickly realised I was in uncharted territory when I switched to freelancing. Suddenly, I was the Captain of my own ship, choosing when to work, which projects to take on, and who my clients would be. Whilst it was liberating, it was also slightly disorienting. What I initially expected to be a continuation of my routine turned out to be a brand-new adventure.

I had to start from scratch. Setting up a proper website? Never done it before. Figuring out the right systems and processes? It was like learning a new language. And oh, the joys of dealing with taxes – this was a path I had never trodden before.

While plenty of people were eager to share their insights, I quickly realised that much of this freelancing journey was about personal preferences. It was about finding my own path amidst the sea of advice.

After months of trial and error, I finally found my groove. And today, I’m excited to share my top five tips to help you stay motivated as a freelancer.

  1. Create a Dedicated Workspace: Transform a spare room, a cosy nook, or even a corner of your living space into your own workspace. In my case, I affectionately call it “The Sanctuary.” It’s equipped with a desk, my trusty laptop, an extra screen, and a bounty of stationery (yes, I’m a stationery geek). The nature of my work demands minimal distractions, so having a dedicated space where I can close the door, activate the “do not disturb” mode on my phone, and dive deep into my tasks is a game-changer.
  2. Set Goals: To stay on track, I use a weekly planner bursting with personal and business goals. At the start of each year, month, and week, I set objectives. This approach helps me break down the bigger goals into bite-sized, manageable chunks, making them far less intimidating. To keep my motivation high, I’ve got a vision board right above my desk, adorned with images and quotes that align with my goals.
  3. Practice Self-Care: When you’re your own boss, it’s easy to lose track of time. But taking breaks is vital for your well-being and productivity. I kick off my “commute” to work with a morning walk, avoid eating at my desk, and savour lunch in the garden on sunny days. When the workday ends, I indulge in some quality reading from my bookshelf filled with inspirational books. Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
  4. Set a Schedule: Freelancing means freedom, but it also means self-discipline. Deadlines, whether external or self-imposed and a well-structured schedule are your best allies. At the end of each week, I review my calendar to assess my capacity for new projects or for working on my website and social media. After trying various project management apps, I found that a straightforward time-blocking approach using Google Calendar works best for me. And don’t forget to schedule those breaks – they’re essential for recharging.
  5. Celebrate the Wins: Freelancing can be lonely at times, with no colleagues or bosses to give you a pat on the back. That’s why it’s crucial to be your own cheerleader. As part of my goal-setting ritual, I treat myself when I achieve milestones. A weekly goal might earn me a new book or a glass of wine, while a monthly achievement calls for something bigger, like a massage or a shopping spree. And don’t underestimate the power of a supportive circle of friends and family – they’ll remind you that you’ve worked hard and should be proud, helping you keep imposter syndrome at bay.

I hope you find these tips as helpful as I have. Feel free to share your own motivation-boosting strategies in the comments below. Freelancing may have its challenges, but with the right mindset and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can conquer it like a pro!