Six Dilemmas That Freelancers Face Over the Holidays
Posted November 24, 2010 in How-To, Lifestyle
It’s the holiday season!
At least it is the holiday season for North America and many Western European nations. For a lot of folks the months of November and December are an exciting time. It’s time to get together with family and friends. It’s also a time of celebration.
For a freelancer, however, the holidays can be very stressful. The holiday season presents the average freelancer with a number of confusing dilemmas.
In this post, I’ll address some of those holiday dilemmas directly and explain what a freelancer can do to prepare for them.
Dilemma #1: Taking Time Off
Like most folks, many freelancers want to take some time off during the holidays. However, without proper planning, getting time off during the holidays can become a major freelancing stressor. Here are two steps you can take to help ensure that you have enough time to spend with your friends and family during the holiday season:
- Schedule it. Let’s face it, if you don’t put your time off on your calendar just like you would a work project, you probably won’t get to take any. It is just too easy to say “yes” to those last minute projects that tend to crop up at this time of the year.
- Save for it. Taking time off during the holidays can also cause a financial strain for the unprepared freelancer. As we all know, freelancers don’t get paid unless they work. That’s why it’s important to save for the holidays.
Dilemma #2: To Gift, or Not to Gift
Most freelancers struggle with the issue of whether or not it is okay to send a gift to their clients. This can be a real dilemma, because the wrong gift can make a bad impression. Or, worse yet, it can seem like a bribe of sorts. There’s also an issue because some folks don’t celebrate the holidays. So, what’s a freelancer to do? Here are two approaches:
- Promotional items. Promotional business items that are practical, yet not too personal can answer the client gift dilemma quite nicely. Some examples include coffee cups, calendars, or even snacks. Make sure whatever you give is of high quality.
- Year-end thank-yous. Many freelancers opt to make their holiday greetings to clients a year-end thank-you rather than a recognition of a specific holiday. This approach avoids any potential awkwardness and should apply equally to all clients.
Dilemma #3: Financial Woes
The holiday season is actually one of the most expensive times of the year for many people. Between hosting get-togethers, buying gifts, and possibly travelling to visit family members–the holidays can cost quite a lot. For unprepared freelancers, in particular, the holiday expenses can seem almost overwhelming. Here are some ways to offset the costs:
- Look for alternatives. Take advantage of online specials and deals to get the best values on your gifts. Volunteer to host the holiday at your place in order to avoid the high cost of travel. Hand-make meaningful personalized gifts.
- Start saving now for next year’s holiday season. Admittedly, this tactic won’t help you much this year, but it sure can make next year’s holiday season less stressful. Start setting aside a small portion of your freelancing income for the 2011 holidays now.
Dilemma #4: Is There a Scarcity of Work?
One common belief that freelancers and others have is that the amount of work available to freelancers (and others) decreases drastically during the holiday season. In my own experience, however, companies often turn to freelancers to get work done during this time of the year while their own employees take vacation time off. This can be a profitable time for freelancers.
- Don’t stop marketing. Don’t make the mistake of getting lax on your marketing efforts during the holiday season. If potential clients see that it’s business as usual with you, they’ll be more likely to offer you a project.
- Make yourself available. Some freelancers may be looking for other freelancers who can step in and finish up project work for them while the first freelancer takes a vacation. If you are available for this type of work, let your social network know.
Dilemma #5: Distractions, Distractions, Distractions
Distractions are tough for freelancers to deal with any time of the year, but they can be particularly hard to deal with during the holidays. And, let’s face it. There are a lot of distractions out there at this time of the year. However, if you know about the possibility of distractions you can prepare yourself to deal with them. Here are some tips:
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish. It’s important to have a realistic schedule at any time of the year, but it’s especially important to be realistic during the holidays when unexpected guests are more likely to drop in.
- Take adequate breaks. Be sure to get enough rest and take enough breaks. It’s never a good idea to run yourself ragged, and if you try that during this time of the year you are very likely to wind up getting sick.
Dilemma #6: Illness
Did I mention that the holiday season is also often the beginning of the flu season? You’re more likely to get sick during this time of the year because, between holiday get-togethers and last minute shopping, you are probably going to come into contact with more people. An illness can be a serious setback for a freelancer unless you have a plan in place.
- Have a sick plan in place. Make a list of some freelancers who can fill in for you in an emergency and you agree to do the same for them. You should also plan for a little extra time in your projects so that you can take a sick day if you need to.
- Take care of yourself. Sometimes prevention is the best cure. Don’t abandon your healthy habits during the holidays. Continue to eat right, exercise, and get enough rest. If you come into contact with someone who is sick, wash your hands.
How Do You Solve Your Holiday Dilemmas?
What holiday dilemmas have you faced? How have you solved them?
Share your answers in the comments.
Image by yngrich
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