Preparing for a Vacation as a Freelance WriterNovember 12th, 2007 by Michael Kwan
A freelance writing career isn’t for everyone. While there are several advantages to owning your own freelance writing business, there are naturally several sacrifices that you will also have to endure. The most obvious of these is the inconsistency in income. One month, you could score a fantastic writing gig and rake in a huge paycheck. The next month, you might have to frantically seek any clients at all. It’s a very up-and-down kind of business, so you have to prepared to celebrate the high-income months, as well as have a safety net to survive the low-income months.
Another disadvantage to being a freelance writer is that you are not entitled to any sort of benefits. You don’t get health benefits, for example, so sick days present a terrible conundrum: if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
Related to sick days, freelance writers also do not get paid vacations. It’s different in every country but where I live, most employers provide their workers with two weeks paid vacation every year. You can use those two weeks to do whatever you want, whether it be taking a studio tour or playing some of the best NES games of all-time. It’s up to you, because you’re still going to get paid as usual. You’re not expected to think about work during these two weeks.
As a freelance writer, this simply cannot be the case. I have several customers who request work from me on an ongoing basis. For example, I put up a post every weekday on the BlueFur blog. It’s just not possible for me to tell Gary Jones that I will be falling off the face of the Earth for two weeks and he needs to fend for himself in the interim. Well, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be fair to him and it would be poor customer service on my part. With freelance writing — as with any self-owned and self-run business — it is of paramount importance that you keep your customers happy. Without them, you don’t get paid.
The following few steps are ones that every freelance writer should take before going on any sort of vacation. We still deserve holidays, to be sure, but there is some preparation that needs to be done. These steps, slightly modified, can easily apply to other entrepreneurs and bloggers as well.
- Inform your customers that you will be going on vacation, providing them with exact dates and telling them how “connected” you will be during that time. It is best to give as much advance notice as possible, in case they need to make any arrangements themselves.
- Minimize the number of freelance projects you accept. You don’t want to have an “open” project while you are on vacation. This is out of fairness to your clients. The exception would be if they fully understand that the requested work will not be started/completed until you come back.
- Complete any outstanding freelance writing work. Tie up those loose ends and get it all done. The weeks leading up to your vacation can easily be your busiest.
- Send out invoices for the outstanding work. It’s up to you whether you want to extend your standard payment dates.
- For bloggers: Make extensive use of the time stamp feature to write and publish blog posts in advance. If you manage multiple blogs, you’ll want to time-stamp posts for all of them. You don’t want to worry about maintaining your posting schedule while on the road.
- Send out a reminder email or message to all of your freelance writing clients before you leave for your trip. Although you already informed them of your vacation, they probably have a million other things on their mind. A friendly reminder (or two… or three) can be incredibly helpful. It also shows that you care and that you want to make sure they are taken care of.
- Go through the usual arrangements surrounding a vacation: who’s going to take care of your pet bunny? Water the plants? Check your (snail) mail? Bills all paid? Nothing past due? Did you get travel insurance? Etc. etc. etc.
This list is my no means exhaustive, but I hope I hit some of the most important points. Freelance writing, as with blogging, is not something that you can temporarily abandon on a whim. It sounds cliche, but it is absolutely true: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t come back from your vacation with a mailbox filled with complaints from customers. As a freelance writer, reputation is everything.