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setting boundaries as a creative professional

I have a love-hate relationship with boundaries and that’s because they’re hard. In any relationship, building boundaries feels like tough love for yourself, but can also leave you feeling inconsiderate or mean to the other person, but boundaries aren’t set just for you. In today’s episode, I’m sharing exactly what I mean by this, the boundaries I’ve placed in my business, and how to approach setting boundaries with your clients.

Clocking In with Haylee Gaffin is produced and brought to you by Gaffin Creative, a podcast production company for creative entrepreneurs. Learn more about our services at Gaffincreative.com, plus you’ll also find resources, show notes, and more for the Clocking In Podcast.

When we talk about clients overstepping boundaries, it’s important to remember that it’s at NO FAULT of their own IF you don’t intentionally set boundaries to begin with. I think each person has their own needs in business and you can accept whatever relationship you want with your clients. I’ve slowly adapted each of the boundaries I’m sharing today because I ran into situations that I didn’t love. 

Setting Boundaries in Your Business

I think boundaries are so important as a business owner, and even as an employee working for someone else. When I worked in the corporate world, I was taught to go above and beyond—get to work early, leave late, and answer every single call or text, no matter if you were on vacation or even laying in bed at 9:30 at night. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I got out of bed at night to go check on something because I got a text asking me for something. Or how many times I woke up a 6 AM to 5 texts about a different project while I was in corporate roles. I learned two very important lessons from that experience for when I opened my business:

1 I wouldn’t allow that to happen to me in business again and

2 I wouldn’t do that to my employees or contractors.

As a business owner, setting boundaries makes you a better person for yourself, your family, your team, and also your clients. When you’re not stressed about boundaries you haven’t set, your attention is intentionally focused on your client’s work, not the negative energy you have about how they don’t know your boundaries—again, not their fault if you haven’t set them.

Boundaries I’ve Set in My Business:

Office Hours

I have always loved working the 8-5 life. I’m that business owner that is at my desk no later than 8 AM and I try to clock out by 5 PM. It sets a schedule for me and creates a routine that I enjoy. But, that does not mean that those are my office hours and that I am available to clients during those hours. I’m not.

So, I established office hours for my clients Monday through Thursday from 9-4. That means that I try to not to communicate with clients outside of those hours. On Fridays, I don’t communicate with my clients at all. That doesn’t mean I’m not working, though. I reserve Fridays for makeup work, any place that I got behind during the week, and for working on my own business. Sometimes, when I’m caught up, I’ll even just take. the day off. Since starting my business, I have not worked for clients on a Friday.

I have also established days that I will take calls. I try to only take calls on Monday and Thursday so that I only have to prep for calls on those days. And I can be prepared to get into the mindset for a call. The other days I can focus on editing or show notes without having to switch gears to take a call.

Communication

Communication is such a hard boundary for me. I didn’t know what I needed in my business until I tested it out. But after trying things out and finding what I loved and didn’t love so much, I have established boundaries within my client and team communication.

Email for my clients

I aim to only communicate through email with my clients. This creates a professional tone and keeps a paper trail that’s easy to find. This was hard to put this boundary up when texting is so easy. Finding the balance of personal vs. business communication is hard. But, keeping the professional communication in email keeps it bound to my office hours.

Texting only during business hours

I rarely communicate through texts with my clients, but if I do it is during business hours. I try to avoid this but sometimes the client needs a quick response. When this happens, I let them know that I can handle it during my next business hours and then I make a note of it.

Slack/Project Management Tool for my team

I mainly use slack for my own team or with clients that originally established slack as their communication tool. This is because I associate the slack notification with something negative. The goal as a podcast producer is for my clients to barely need to reach out to me. The majority of the time I receive slack messages when something breaks. But, for my team, it is usually just updates, and I like it that way.

Deadlines

This was another hard boundary. Especially because I incorporate late fees. I need episodes at least a week before it needs to go live. I prefer two weeks, if possible so that we can all get ahead. I do this because I batch my work. I do all of my editing on one day, show notes on another, and so on. For those things to work, all of my client work needs to be in at the same time.

Now, the issue is that my clients are busy. Things fall off their radar and things are late, it happens. I don’t want to rush my clients because if they are late and I’m having to rush, I’m not creating the best work that I can for them. Having deadlines allows me to do the best work I can for my clients and have my team members stay on track.

Late fees

No one likes paying a fee, but it is necessary because it establishes the importance of the deadline. On top of that, if I’m having to do last-minute work so are my contractors and they may also have a fee for me.

Scope of Work

This boundary is so hard for me. I have gotten better at this, but it was a challenge. Now, I have very set packages of what is included within my work. If a client is looking for something more they are able to add on and pay extra because it takes extra work. You may not think about how small extras can add to the overall workload. Any time you are asked to do more, you can provide the opportunity to provide a quote or proposal to the client.

Communicating Boundaries

Since setting these boundaries, my clients have been DREAMS! I will say that it did take time to break habits, but honestly the few times it happened, clients were receptive to the feedback.

Let’s chat through communicating boundaries—which is actually harder than setting them. For me, it did take a while and there are still times I break my own rules out of comfortability and ease. 

New Clients

So first and foremost, let’s talk about setting boundaries with new clients. I personally have some of the more important boundaries like deadlines and scope of work included in my brochures, proposals, and contracts. This tells a brand new client that they have to work ahead by 1-2 weeks and that I charge late fees at myy discretion if I don’t.

Additionally, I do have my office hours listed in my email for my clients to know that they can expect a response during those time, if they want to schedule a call with me, they can on Mondays or Thursday by appointment only, and that I prefer to keep a paper trail of communication via email for project work. This is all documented in the footer of my email. It’s not on every single email, but all of my important ones with invoices, big status changes, etc get that signature on them.

Ongoing Clients

For new ongoing podcast clients, I also have a welcome email! This email highlights each of these boundaries, along with what to expect for working with me, how billing will work, and where they can find resources, which I link to their Google Drive folder and their Project Management Dashboard.

I actually have a few clients where I don’t even have their phone numbers saved in my phone.

Contractors

I intentionally do this with my contractors as well so that I’m not tempted to text them—I’m forced to go to email or slack, because I work ahead in my business, so I should never have to send an urgent text. In the last year of working with contractors, I’ve only had to emergency text one of them one time. Once—the issue was resolved and we developed a better system in my business because of it.

Boundaries You Should Establish In Your Business

  1. Office Hours – when your clients can contact you or expect to hear back from you.
  2. Communication – if you’re fine with texting, that’s totally okay, but set the boundaries for you and your clients.
  3. Work Details – whether that includes scope, deadlines, or expectations.

Catch the Show Notes:

 Intentionally Setting Boundaries (1:48)
The Boundaries I Set In My Business (4:30)

Office Hours

Communication Boundaries

Email Communication

Keep it During Business Hours 

Slack and Project Management Tools 

Deadlines

Scope of Work

Communicating Boundaries (15:15)
New Clients (15:45)
Boundaries You Should Set In your Business (18:30)

Office Hours 

Communication

Work Details 

setting boundaries as a creative professional

Review the Transcript:

I have a love hate relationship with boundaries and that’s because they’re hard. In any relationship, building boundaries feels like tough love for yourself, but can also leave you feeling inconsiderate or mean to the other person, but boundaries aren’t set just for you. I think it’s even harder in business relationships when there is an exchange of money. In today’s episode, I’m sharing exactly what I mean by this, the boundaries I’ve placed in my business, and how to approach setting boundaries with your clients

Whew, it took a lot to approach this topic, and it’s not because I don’t believe in it, but it’s because I’m opening the doors to my own vulnerability, and giving you an inside look as some mistakes I’ve made in the last couple of years in my business.

As a reminder, this month we’re exploring topics around business, entrepreneurship, and life! Make sure you check out the last two episodes where I share about resetting your business mid year and planning for vacations as a business owner. Next week, we’ll be talking all about tools that have allowed me to scale into the education branch on my business without interrupting my existing business or workflows.

Now, when we talk about clients overstepping boundaries, it’s important to remembers that it’s at NO FAULT of their own IF you don’t intentionally set boundaries to begin with. I think each person has their own needs in business and you can accept whatever relationship you want with your clients, I’ve slowly adapted each of the boundaries I’m sharing today because I ran into situations that I didn’t love. 

I think boundaries are so important asa a business owner, but even as an employee working for someone else. When I worked in the corporate world, I was taught to go above and beyond—get to work early, leave late, answer every single call or text, no matter if you were on vacation or even laying in bed at 9:30 at night. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I got out of bed at night to go check on something because I got a text asking me for something. Or how many times I woke up a 6AM to 5 texts about a different project while I was in corporate roles. I learned two very important lessons from that experience for when I opened my business: 1 I wouldn’t allow that to happen to me in business again and 2 I wouldn’t do that to my employees or contractors.

As a business owner, setting boundaries makes you a better person for yourself, your family, your team, but also your clients. When you’re not stressed about boundaries you haven’t set, your attention is intentionally focused on your client’s work, nt the negative energy you have about how they don’t know your boundaries—again, not their fault if you haven’t set them.

X Boundaries I’ve Set in My Business:

  • Office Hours
    • M-T 9-4
  • Communication
    • Email for my clients
    • Texting only during business hours
    • Slack/Project Management Tool for my team
  • Deadlines
    • Late fees
  • Scope of Work

Since setting these boundaries, my clients have been DREAMS! I will say that it did take time to break habits, but honestly the few times it happened, clients were receptive to the feedback.

Let’s chat through communicating boundaries—which is actually harder than setting them. For me, it did take a while and there are still times I break my own rules out of comfortability and ease. 

So first and foremost, let’s talk about setting boundaries with new clients. I personally have some of the more important boundaries like deadlines and scope of work included in my brochures, proposals, and contracts. This tells a brand new client that they have to work ahead by 1-2 weeks and that I charge late fees at my discretion if I don’t.

Additionally, I do have my office hours listed in my email for my clients to know that they can expect a response during those time, if they want to schedule a call with me, they can on Mondays or Thursday by appointment only, and that I prefer to keep a paper trail of communication via email for project work. This is all documented in the footer of my email. It’s not on every single email, but all of my important ones with invoices, big status changes, etc get that signature on them.

For new ongoing podcast clients, I also have a welcome email! This email highlights each of these boundaries, along with what to expect for working with me, how billing will work, and where they can find resources, which I link to their Google Drive folder and their Project Management Dashboard.

I actually have a few clients where I don’t even have their phone numbers saved in my phone.

I intentionally do this with my contractors as well so that I’m not tempted to text them—I’m forced to go to email or slack, because I work ahead in my business, so I should never have to send an urgent text. In the last year of working with contractors, I’ve only had to emergency text one of them one time. Once—the issue was resolved and we developed a better system in my business because of it.

Today, I want you to build out boundaries in your business.

  1. Office Hours – when your clients can contact you or expect to hear back from you.
  2. Communication – if you’re fine with texting, that’s totally okay, but set the boundaries for you and your clients.
  3. Work Details – whether that includes scope, deadlines, or expectations.