How many hours a day?


Ok, here's my dilema...

I have an ongoing client that I have worked for, for the best part of 5 -6 years producing a bi-monthly magazine for (ranging from 36 -104pages - tabloid size) and one annual (currently working on this years just now, 160 pages + covers - A4 full colour).

However I just gone freelance full time and other work is starting to trickle in, these range from fairly straight forward sites to ecommerce projects and also design for print.

My problem being that when it comes round to doing the main clients mag I am tied up doing that for around 3 weeks solid, and when I say solid I mean probably a few overnight stints coming up to deadline. Meanwhile my new clients will either have to wait, or go elsewhere - and I don't like the thought of the later especially just setting up. And also I am afraid of getting "burnt out" as my health isn't great just now.

So should I put my foot down and set the hours that I am prepared to work per day, and maybe allow a few hours a day for other projects as required - this could then result in me sending them through something that states I can work X amount of hours per day, and to allow 1 hour per advert to be designed or editorial page, and so calculate when they have to have their content to me by?
Or should I just battle on and try and keep everyone happy, but risk loosing a few clients along the way due to being tied up with their mag?

How many hours a day do the rest of you work?
How easy is it to stick to a rule of shutting the systems down by a certain time each day?
Does this even exist in the world of freelance design???
You do not want to let anyone down / lose any customers - particularly at this early stage. My advice is simple - employ another designer on a consultancy basis. One you know and trust and can oversee.
I design 4 bi-monthly franchise magazines freelance (4 different editors, but they probably equate to 80 pages between them for roughly the same deadline dates, so I pull long odd hours too...) but I am at the stage where the work is virtually continuous and I love the week off that I have inbetween before I start all over again - I have had to let a lot of potenital web and print design clients down on the sidelines, because I just can't overcommit myself. One of my biggest fears as a single designer with so much responsibility on my hands, is not having a backup in place should I be unable to fulfill my commitments to them.

MarkS your schedule does sound a bit gruelling for a one man band in the first place, but setting rules for your ongoing client now, especially if they are used to your previous commitment, might make them unhappy along the line. It sounds like you have a lot of thinking to do about how much you really need them in your life at the moment.
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