It’s summertime again and Facebook is full of envy-inducing holiday snaps. We all need a break in some form but it’s harder for freelancers than typical employees to get away. This isn’t just because your income is not as stable.
Why it’s difficult
It’s probably not news to you why it’s so difficult for a self-employed person to take a holiday. First of all, it’s difficult to walk away from the business for a week. There’s often the fear that without you, the business will crumble but it won’t with a bit of preparation.
Besides the mental anguish, it’s just harder for those who don’t have holiday pay to take holidays. When you worked in an office job you just booked them off and could forget about work while lying on a beach somewhere.
As a freelancer, you don’t get this luxury. Business doesn’t go on around you. If you don’t work, you don’t get money. So that’s a big hit to take, especially if you fancy a whole week away or more. Imagine giving up a quarter of your month’s pay and then having to pay for flights and hotels on top of it whenever you needed a break.
On the plus side, you don’t have to organise your holiday time around busy seasons or other workers. You can take time off whenever you want, so long as you’ve planned ahead.
Why you need a holiday
Though it might be a bit trickier to have a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one. In fact, you should have one. Taking a break can be good for you and your work. You can come back to it, mentally refreshed.
How you can make it easier
In order to cover money lost through taking a holiday, having a baby or being ill, you need to be charging way more than you think. Don’t get stuck charging low fees or hourly rates that mirror your old job. You didn’t have all these expenses in your job.
Plan well in advance
If you want a holiday, you’re best off planning this well in advance so that you can keep back some of your earnings to cover the lost money. You’re going to have to save for a holiday anyway, just make sure you keep those two funds separate. Have one for living and business expenses and then a holiday fund for spends and travel costs.
Hire some help
If you can’t leave your business alone, you could always hire someone to help out with the basic running of your business while you’re away. This could mean hiring another freelancer like a virtual assistant to answer calls and emails or to keep posting on social media while you’re away.
Don’t dip into an emergency fund
As a freelancer, there are all sorts of funds you should think about having, one to cover living expenses, a holiday fund, and a sick day or emergency fund.
The emergency fund is important if you hit a dry spell and have no client work but a load of bills that won’t wait. So when planning your time off, you might want to stay away from the emergency fund just in case something goes wrong later on.
Let your clients know
If you’re stepping away fully, then you need to let your clients know that they won’t be able to contact you while you’re away. If you don’t warn them then you might end up with some angry clients who think you’ve run away, especially if you’ve got outstanding work.
Ideally you want to complete any outstanding work before you go. For projects you won’t be able to finish, it’s worth telling them as soon as you know when you’ll be away. This will give them time to make alternative arrangements if need be.
Have you got a holiday coming up? How have you prepared for it? Please share your thoughts.