From S.J.-M.: I have a regular customer. These last few months, he’s given me more to do, but he’s making me work for much less, and expecting me to send back my work much sooner. I’m starting to have health issues. Should I discuss it with him?
The Translator’s Aunt: Dear S.J.-M., I’m sorry to hear that. Overwork and stress often lead to all sorts of health issues regardless of the profession. But the thing about being freelancers is that we should have far more control over this aspect of our lives than if we were working in a high-stress office environment. If you feel you’re starting to lose control over your workload, then it’s time to take a step back, breathe, rest, and rethink your business strategy.
Are you saying “Yes” to every job and every condition set by the client because you’re worried about losing clients? Don’t be, you’ll have more spare time to find better clients who respect your work and your time. Alternatively, find colleagues in your language pair and collaborate with them to share the work load. Are you taking on too much work because you feel you’re not earning enough otherwise? Take a pay cut one month, invest your free time in marketing your business to better-paying clients and start charging rates that reflect your worth.
And to answer your last question, there’s no need to discuss the specifics of your health issues with your client. Everyone is allowed sick leave, even freelancers. In fact, you should budget it into your financial plan for the year so that you don’t feel guilty or stressed when you just need to take a day or two to stay in bed and look after yourself. Explain to your client politely that you need to take some time off for sick leave, and set another non-negotiable deadline for the work.