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What to do as a freelancer when everything’s urgent

By February 11, 2021August 27th, 2021Articles, Blog, Freelancing, Productivity, Words of Wisdom

What to do as a freelancer when everything’s urgent

If I had R100 for every time a client – prospective, new or regular – called or emailed me and said, “Ha ha [insert sheepish laugh], this little job is quite urgent, ha ha, but it won’t take you long, ha ha…” I’d retire.

So the question is, What to do as a freelancer when everything’s urgent?

Luckily for you, I believe in sharing my latent rage via tongue-in-cheek tips. So here are 6 ways to handle it when you’re a freelancer and everyone wants everything yesterday:


You can build in an urgency surcharge. I do this when I want to tackle the project or score the new client but I’ll undoubtedly have to pull a weekender, a late-nighter or a re-shuffle of other work.


You can prepare new clients for the fact that, because you’re good and your work is in demand, you’re seldom available at short notice. I do this too, and 90% of my regulars now understand it and work around it. However, I do have to make it quite clear in that first meet-and-greet.


You can make a special plan for regulars or big clients. There are about 10 people/companies who could call me at midnight and I’d hop to whatever it is for the next day. Out of hard-earned loyalty.

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You can out-source (which, in fact, I almost never do). I have two associates, but even they can’t do work at short notice because a) we’re all pretty busy and b) short notice doesn’t give me time to get a signature and a 50% deposit.


Don’t be known as S/he Who Answers Calls After Hours, works on weekends or pulls rabbits out of hats every time. You’ll be abused. Indeed, if you make a plan for a special client, KEEP. IT. QUIET.


You can say No. Just…No. I did this recently, because the client’s side of the conversation went like this: “Thanks for your quote. But – two weeks for website copy? What can be done to fast-track this? I’ll need it within four working days, starting tomorrow. Seriously. I’m happy to pay more, but besides money, what can I do, specifically, to make you work faster?” I actually didn’t know what he meant. Was he offering even more money? (If only.) A massage? (Yech.) Sexual favours? (No.) Who knows? Spoiler: I said No.

Now that I think about it, I should perhaps also have a healing public rant about the ubiquitous “It won’t take you longer than an hour…” and “I would do it myself but…” Next time.

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