Five Festive Season Freelancer Tips
Surviving “Silly Season” as a Freelancer
When you start working for yourself, the idea of “paid leave” goes out the window. Sure, you have a lot more flexibility and you can set your own hours – but the hours you don’t work are the hours you don’t bring in earnings. And unlike a 9-to-5 office job, there’s no such thing as a Christmas bonus or 13th cheque to help you out with those extra festive season expenses. Needless to say, this is a time when self-employed folks start to feel pretty stressed out!
Here are some smart ways to make sure you’re prepared for the challenges the festive season might bring your way as a freelancer.
- Plan ahead as much as possible
If the December holiday period tends to be very slow for your industry, start planning for the downturn ahead of time. Put aside some extra savings in your high-earning months, so you won’t be caught short in the low-earning season.
It’s also a good idea to start reaching out to your existing network of clients in September and October, to ask if they will need your services over the holiday season. Many employers will be working on skeleton staff, with the majority of their on-house teams being on leave, so you may be pleasantly surprised to find there’s a bit of a rise in demand for freelance services. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
- Communicate clearly (and early)
Let your clients know, ahead of time, what your availability will be for the festive season. If you’re planning to take time off, make sure they know your out-of-office dates ahead of time, so you can come to an agreement about deadlines and manage their expectations.
- Give your clients some added incentive
Consider introducing a seasonal special, by offering slightly discounted rates in December for those clients who want to work with you during this time. A good, competitive deal might make all the difference when it comes to bringing in festive season freelance earnings.
- Try not to overdo it
Many of your clients may be closing their doors for the festive period, which means you’ll be feeling the pressure to take on any job that comes your way, no matter how demanding. While a busy festive season can be a very positive thing for freelancers, it’s also important to take some time away from work and relax a bit with your loved ones. The last thing you want is to start the new year feeling frazzled and burned out!
Try and reach a compromise between paid work and relaxation. Limit the hours you spend online or checking your mail, and take the public holidays off if you can. After hours, turn your phone off or switch it to silent. Or book a short holiday trip, but take your laptop along and dedicate a specific daily timeslot to work; then leave the rest of your day free to explore and relax. Better yet, you can book your getaway for shortly after the peak holiday season. The crowds will be smaller, and accommodation will be cheaper!
- Don’t neglect your marketing
If you are planning to go away, draft some blog posts and social media content ahead of time. Schedule your blog posts to go live on certain dates, and use a social media management tool like HootSuite to schedule your social posts at regular intervals. This will help you to keep your marketing efforts active, without needing to be at your keyboard every day.
Speaking of marketing, this time of year is a good opportunity to thank your clients for their support, and make them feel appreciated. Send a seasonal greeting e-mail to your clients with a short message wishing them well. You can also include your rates or special offers for the new year, and use the message as a reminder of your out-of-office dates if necessary. Extra touches like this can help to strengthen client relationships and maintain your professional reputation.
Wishing all the freelancers out there a happy, productive and stress-free festive season!