While we might be well into holiday season for most people, this is a time of year that sparks a common dilemma. The dilemma is not where to go, but whether you can afford to take time off.
One of the perks of going freelance is that you don’t have to adhere to normal working hours and can take off time whenever you want. But do you really have more freedom than the average worker?
Employees get holiday pay and you don’t. So that dream of taking a few days off here and there or going on that fortnight long cruise are not as realistic as you might think. Any time you are not working, you are losing money.
So how do you take a holiday without compromising your business or losing clients?
Your main options
Increase working hours
Some freelancers will work extra hours before or after a holiday. The problem with this is that you might end up causing a lot of unnecessary stress and lack of sleep. Before choosing this option, be realistic with yourself. If you’re working extra, will this be your best work? You don’t want to risk burning yourself out by working too hard.
However, if you’re organised and realistic, you can avoid the sleepless nights. Instead of trying to cram a lot of work into one go, you can increase the hours you spend on client work in smaller amounts for a longer period running up to the beginning of your holiday. This will make it a bit easier to relax when you finally do leave for your holiday.
You might want to consider outsourcing some of your responsibilities for a while. You could outsource admin tasks like answering the phone to a virtual assistant or blog posts to a freelance writer. Using another freelancer will also help you build up your contact list and you might find that you want to work with each other again in the future.
Work on holiday
Now this probably won’t be what you or your family want to do. However, some people do carry on working while on holiday, just with fewer hours. You might want to take a couple of hours each morning to work on your business and then head out to the beach later on. This way, you’re not leaving your business to gather dust, you’ve just toned down some of your day-to-day responsibilities to the absolute essentials.
Take the hit
If all else fails, you might end up having to accept that you’ll miss out on work and pay while you’re taking some time off.
Hopefully you’re in a comfortable enough position that losing out on some money isn’t going to make you struggle to make ends meet. While it’s never ideal, it might be your only option in some cases.
Make sure to tell your existing clients that you’ll be away for a while and to expect work later or less communication. If they’re understanding, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you give them enough notice.
The risk here besides losing money is that your clients will hire someone else and then decide to continue working with them instead of you. This is why it’s so important to have a good working relationship with your clients.
How to prepare for missing out on work
In order to safely step away and take a holiday you should ideally be stepping away from a solid business. If freelancing is your only source of income then you need to make sure it’s as stable as possible. While it might be difficult to find any consistency or stability in freelancing, you can certainly make it easier. Here are two ways you can do this:
Make sure your marketing is up to scratch
Having a solid marketing plan in place will always be incredibly important to your business. You should always be marketing, even when you’re fully booked so that your quieter months aren’t as much of a struggle.
This will keep your business running strong so that if you do decide to take some time off or run into other problems, you’ll be able to pick it back up again much easier. If business is strong and you’re busy on a regular basis, taking some time off might not cause such a financial sting.
Charge high fees
Make sure that you’re charging enough to sustain your business long term. Simply being able to pay the bills isn’t good enough. One of the best things about being in business is that there’s no limit to the amount that you can earn.
Charging high fees is important because of the benefits you will be missing out on from a normal job. Holiday pay is a prime example of this but other important benefits include parental leave, sick pay and pensions.
Have you ever been nervous about taking a holiday as a freelancer? What tips would you give to others? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!