The very word is enough to cause envy in most freelancers.
Why would the word ‘vacation’ make freelancers envious?
Quite frankly, many of us are afraid to take a vacation. We’re afraid that if we leave our business unattended for a few days we’ll lose clients to competitors. We’re afraid that we’ll fall behind on our projects and never be able to catch up. We’re afraid that we’ll miss applying for the hottest project to ever hit the Internet. We’re afraid that we’ll run out of cash.
We freelancers are afraid to take a vacation, so we wind up delaying our vacation (or in many cases, not taking one at all). It’s a fear that fuels our envy of those who take vacations.
The fears are very real and this post is not intended to belittle them. However, the fact is that most of us need to rest from time to time if we are to perform at our best. What better way to rest than by taking a vacation?
This post is intended to help freelancers find a way to get that much-needed vacation rest.
Five Strategies to Help You Plan Your Next Vacation
Plan. You may think that being a freelancer gives you greater flexibility to take time off. For taking off or rearranging small periods of time (for example, several hours), you do have more flexibility as a freelancer. But, if you want to take off a significant portion of time (a week, or more), then taking a vacation may actually require more planning on your part than if you worked in a traditional job.
Depending on how many clients you have and on your project load, you may need to start vacation planning several months ahead of time.
Communicate. Tell your clients when you will be unavailable. Be clear about your vacation start and finish dates. I recommend giving at least a month’s notice if you work on smaller projects. More notice may be needed if you typically work on larger projects. This advance notice allows the clients to adjust their own schedules and expectations concerning your availability.
Work Ahead. If you have ongoing projects, then you may be able to work ahead of schedule in order to free some time for taking a vacation. Freelance bloggers may be able to pre-post so that their blogs don’t sit vacant during their vacation. Other freelancers may be able to work a few extra hours each week leading up to the vacation to get ahead on their projects. It’s also a good idea to organize your office before you leave. There’s nothing worse than returning to a chaotic office after a relaxing break!
Backup. In some cases, it may be a good idea to leave your clients with the name of a freelance colleague to call in case of an emergency. Ideally, this would be someone who is willing to let you back them up later when they go on vacation. (Be sure that you can trust your backup freelancer to do high quality work.) For freelance bloggers, providing a backup can be as simple as finding a few guest bloggers who are willing to write guest posts for you.
Save Money. For freelancers, vacations are unpaid. Not only will you have to pay for the cost of your vacation, you will also have to deal with a loss of income while you are on vacation. The solution to this problem is to save for your vacation. It’s never a good idea to live from paycheck to paycheck. That statement is especially true for freelancers.
Vacation Fears Addressed
I’ll Lose My Clients!
I won’t lie to you. It’s possible that you could lose clients when you take a vacation. Typically, these are clients who don’t plan ahead and provide you primarily with last-minute rush work. My experience is that most clients will be more than happy to make allowances for your time off if you give them enough notice and provide a reliable backup.
Remember, most people take several weeks off from work during the year and also take time off during holiday periods. Provided that you don’t overdo it, your clients won’t be surprised when you do this also.
I’ll Fall Behind And Never Be Able To Catch Up.
It’s partially up to you to manage your schedule by notifying clients and working ahead so that you aren’t in the middle of a lot of projects when you leave. However, before you cancel that vacation because your schedule is too full, consider the long-term effect that burnout can have on your work. Burnout is what is very likely to happen if you never take a break from work.
Isn’t it much better to take some time off and return to your work refreshed and eager to work?
I’m Afraid I’ll Miss Something Really Important.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype that surrounds the Internet. Remember this: the “next great thing” is only the “next great thing” until the next “next great thing” comes along. While initially it may seem like you’ve missed some wonderful opportunities while you were on vacation, in the end usually you can make up most of what you missed in just a few short days.
I’m Afraid That I’ll Run Out Of Money.
This is a very real fear for freelancers. All freelancers, whether or not they plan on going on vacation, should already be saving money. You never know when you might have to deal with a dry spell or an emergency. If you find that you can never save any money at all, then you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I really charging enough for my product or services?
- Is freelancing a responsible way to provide for the needs of myself and my family?
About the author: Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 18 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts.