Freelancers often find it difficult to switch off – how can you enjoy a well-earned break without your business suffering? But you can keep clients happy while also taking holidays…
Working as a freelancer has many benefits, such as flexible hours and the freedom to choose which projects to take on.
And freelancers generally take more holidays than employed people, spending an average of 21 nights away from home a year compared with 10 for an employee, according to PeoplePerHour.
But working for yourself does have its downsides as you’re not entitled to holiday or sick pay.
We all need to take a break from time to time to recharge our batteries. For freelancers, it takes a lot of organisation to be able to take time off and still keep clients happy.
Give clients plenty of notice
The majority of clients will be reasonable and won’t expect you to work 52 weeks of the year. But if you disappear off on your hols without giving them adequate notice, you could end up leaving them in the lurch and harming your relationship with them.
Email them about your holiday plans a month in advance and send a reminder a week before you go away.
Reorganise your schedule
As well as your clients, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to prepare for a holiday. Reorganise your workload so you can fit in more projects in the run-up to your break.
If you’re planning a fortnight away, see if you can squeeze in an extra two weeks’ worth of work on top of your normal workload ahead of your holiday so you won’t be out of pocket.
In the weeks leading up to your holiday, remind clients that if they want anything done before you go away they will have to let you know before a certain date, otherwise it will have to wait until you get back.
Make sure you’ve delivered everything that needs to be delivered before you go away. The last thing you want is a client chasing you up for something when you’re trying to relax on the beach.
Go away during quieter periods
Depending on the nature of your business, there may be certain times of the year when you experience lean periods.
Christmas is an obvious one – unless you happen to be a freelance Santa of course! The festive slowdown might be the ideal opportunity to get away for some winter sun.
Admittedly, it’s an expensive time of year to go away, so weigh the added cost of trips against the potential missed business.
Outsource to a trusted colleague
Another way to have a holiday without disrupting your clients too much is to outsource work to a fellow freelancer while you’re away.
It does have to be someone who can work to your high standards though, and who doesn’t have too many other commitments.
And you must make sure you get approval from your clients first. You could reciprocate by stepping in for them while they’re away.
Leave out-of-the-office messages
So that you can properly relax while you’re away, ensure you have the technology in place to keep your business ticking over.
Leave a voicemail message on your mobile saying how long you’re away for and when you’ll be able to reply to calls. And put an ‘out of office’ auto-responder on your emails with a similar message.
If a client needs to get in touch urgently, always have a fellow freelancer on standby who they can contact to deal with any pressing issues.
Posted by the Secret Businessman