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How to Be a Happy and Productive Virtual Freelancer (Even if You Have Multiple Clients)

Gone are the days when the word "freelancing" was just a way to say "I'm unemployed". I clearly remember a movie I watched as a kid where the lady was asked what her fiance's work was and when she said that he was a freelancer, her parents immediately frowned upon the guy.

In the past decade, freelancing has been one "dream job" many people would like to have. Well, who wouldn't? Flexible hours, great pay - what more could you ask for? However, freelancing is never a walk in the park. Truth is, freelancing can be one of the most stressful jobs one could ever have - and I know so because I was a stressed-out freelancer for some time. It will be about 3 years that I've been a virtual freelancer (some have been working for about a decade), but it was only this year that I finally learned how I could work smarter and be happier - I don't need to be stressed out!

You see, when you are still starting your virtual career, you have that adrenaline to impress and earn, and earn, and earn! That's how I was in the past. I loved working remotely, and I loved how it paid better than a corporate job. I was presented opportunities left and right and sometimes get recognition for my work - and I grabbed every opportunity!

Well, grabbing every opportunity backfired and turned me into a robot - a sick one! I even found myself just working to get paid - and it affected my personal life. Not only was I unhealthy (I was sick for about a month - just common cold and flu but the feeling was argh!), I was also becoming a lot short-tempered. It was a time that I felt something needed to change.

But that was already in the past. Today, I feel more productive and happy (at work and personally). I started to seek advice from other virtual freelancers and I would follow other freelancers on social media. This is what I learned - and have applied to myself. You see, you can be happy and productive. You can earn without having to sacrifice your health, your life and your family. You can be a happy virtual freelancer!

Here are my tips:

1. Choose your job.

If you are new to freelancing, it can be understandable to just take "any" job that is presented to you. You may work as a Virtual Assistant for an entrepreneur even if you don't like some of the tasks. It's also okay to just settle for a certain fee just to learn the ropes in freelancing. However, as you start paying your dues as a freelancer, you will find you work better at some projects, and you have the best skills for a certain role. Don't be afraid to choose your job - and of course ask for the right compensation. When you feel you have exhausted yourself in a certain role, it might be because you've already grown out of it. Don't be afraid to explore and choose a job you love. You spend a lot of hours at work to spend it on something that doesn't make you happy, so why settle? Choosing a job you love is the first key to happiness in a virtual freelancing career.

2. Pick your boss.

Well, sad fact is, when you work as a freelancer, sometimes you overwork and you are underpaid. Sometimes, there are clients who are just difficult to deal with. And although the stress is much less than working for a difficult boss in the concrete jungle, having to deal with someone who is really challenging can take a toll on your health and personal life too. Sure, you don't get to be physically with them, but the fact that you are stressed just shows how stressful they are to work with even if they aren't physically with you. Fortunately, one of the perks of being a freelancer is you have the option to choose a great boss and you have the option to cease a certain project when you feel you are already shortchanged. There are a lot of great people who needs your talent - find them and work for them!

3. Eliminate distractions.

Sometimes we blame the job, sometimes we blame the boss - but are they really what's causing you stress? It may just be your favorite app or your mobile, or you're just too distracted because you have a lot on your plate! Eliminate distractions at work and you'll be able to accomplish more. When you accomplish more, you feel happier and you become more efficient. What worked for me was uninstalling some of my favorite apps and just choosing to work a few projects that I love (taking on a lot of projects is a major distraction!). What's your greatest distraction? Eliminate it now!

Do you feel overwhelmed because you have a lot of back logs? It may be because you're just distracted with Facebook.

4. Reward yourself when you accomplish a project.

Now, you don't need to buy something fancy and you don't even need to spend a lot just to reward yourself. A reward could be something as allowing yourself to watch your favorite show, or just going out. Some freelancers reward themselves with their favorite food, others reward themselves with a short nap. For others who were able to accomplish a big project, they would usually buy something fancy for themselves or enjoy a holiday with their family. Just make sure you have been able to accomplish something first before you give yourself a reward, though.

5. Work your worth.

One of the reasons why some virtual freelancers are unhappy is because they work too much and they get a very low pay. That's just depressing, right? Well, if you allow someone to just pay you their spare change for your work that's amazing, you will really feel bad! See, it's your fault they pay you cheap. So, next time you get an offer for a project, just ASK. You know how much you are worth! Don't just settle for a project just for the sake of having a project. When you start to put value to yourself and your work, you will be happier.

6. Take a lot of short breaks.

Now, this one is a little tricky. Of course, there are some freelance jobs that require 8 to 9 hours of work daily, but this doesn't mean you can't take breaks. Spare a minute or two when you feel overwhelmed with your tasks. As for virtual freelancers who are already experienced and have the freedom to choose which projects to take, choose projects where you could work flexible hours. I learned this from friends who seem to be happy while I was always stressed out. There are a lot of opportunities out there, choose the ones that offer flexibility.

A short break can save you from "work heartbreak"

7. Interact with the virtual freelancing community.

Can't seem to cope with the challenges of a virtual career? Do you feel overwhelmed with your workload? Well, you are not alone! There are a lot of virtual freelancing communities where you could share you thoughts, ask for advice, and even find better opportunities. Sometimes, we just need to know that what we are going though is normal. Find a group that will support you. Remember, you are not alone!

Please read: This Freakingly Realistic Video About Being a Freelancer Will Crack You Up!

8. Always be grateful.

At the end of the day, unhappy people are people who are ungrateful. If you've followed the tips above and you still aren't happy, it may be just because of two reasons: it's either a virtual freelancing career is NOT for you, or you are just an ungrateful person. Try to appreciate what you have and look at the benefits of working a freelance job. Pray and thank God for giving you a virtual career that really pays. Now, I don't want to offend anyone but if you have followed all the tips I shared and you are not an ungrateful person, yet you are still unhappy, it may mean freelancing is not for you. Some people are happier working in a corporate office - they work best there. So if you still find yourself unhappy even if you have a high paying virtual career doing a job you love - it may be because a virtual freelancing career is NOT for you.

Here's the bottomline:

A virtual freelancing career has its benefits and perks, but it can be lonely too. However, just like any other job, there are many ways to be happy and still be productive at the same time. It is also important to identify if a virtual career is really for you.

Are you a virtual freelancer like me? How do you balance personal happiness and productivity at work? Feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Short breaks help for sure. I used to feel bad doing that, but it helps to recharge and refocus.

    1. Exactly! I take naps when I need to. It really helps recharge and you will find you work better when you are refreshed.

  2. Hi Grace, I have several things I want to tell you. First of all: Great post! You detailed the life us freelancer can have if we do it poorly and how great can it be once we decide and learn how to make it better. I really liked, and you bet it was shared!

    Second of all: What theme are you using for this blog? I have one of my own where I teach people how to become freelancers and I really like the setup.

    If you or your audience would like to visit the site and learn how to go freelance, visit https://f4freelance.com

    1. Hi Andres, thanks for your comment. I really wrote this piece from my experience so this is done from the heart.

      I am using blogger and my theme is from Sora templates.

      I checked out your website. It's really a great one and I like your advocacy. I have been freelancing for a while and I think your blog is a great resource for people like me.