Well, the holidays are here. For some of us freelance writers, that means finding ways to take a break from work to spend time with friends and family.
If you want to take time off around the holidays, I say go for it! This is a great time of year for connecting with loved ones, stepping back to evaluate how your freelance life is going, and enjoying some much-needed downtime.
Here are 7 tips to help you take a holiday break without going broke.
1. Front-load articles (and other work)
Just because you’ll be roasting chestnuts or taking long winter naps doesn’t mean your writing work can’t still be out there in the world. In the weeks and days before your break, front-load articles that are due during your time off, get blog posts written and scheduled, and file any client work ahead of time.
If you plan wisely, you can deliver your usual amount of work, you just submit it or schedule it ahead of time.
2. Let clients know you’re available for work before the holidays
Give your regular clients a heads-up that you’ll be taking a holiday break but that you’re available for work before then. This way, they won’t be surprised when they get an autoresponder that you won’t be checking email for a week, and they may toss you some extra work in the meantime.
3. Pitch seasonal and end-of-year blog posts
This time of year, there’s a lot of work writing end-of-year roundups, best ofs, lists, wrap-ups, etc. To buff up your pre-holiday income, pitch these types of articles to clients and publications. Then hustle to get them completed ahead of time so you can sit back and relax.
4. Schedule January work now
This is key to being able to relax on your break. Schedule January work now! You do not want to come back from a holiday break to a lull in freelance work. Lulls are no good and they lead to stress, anxious nights, and desperation work.
Pitch early-2016 jobs now. Your break will be so much sweeter knowing you’ll go back to work with gigs lined up.
5. Schedule Social Media
Use Buffer or another scheduling tool to keep a presence on social media so you don’t disappear from feeds. Schedule Tweets, Facebook updates, and more in one sitting, then you don’t have to think about them again.
While you’re kicking back enjoying some much-deserved time off, your pre-scheduled Tweets can be out there keeping you in the mix and promoting your work.
6. Put your vacation time on your calendar and guard it
As soon as I know when my break will be, I schedule it on my calendar with a “CAT’S VACATION” listing that stretches out the length of my time off.
Putting this on my primary calendar prevents freelance creep, where you take a small project here or there, or maybe schedule an interview during that time, or give yourself a couple of to-dos. Then, before you know it, your vacation looks a lot like any other work week. Schedule your time off and guard it!
7. Work your ass off before your vacation (and love every minute of it)
As you’re doing extra work in the lead-up to your time off, keep in mind how sweet a break will be. Hustle, do your best work, and get through all your to-dos with your regular professionalism and grace. The extra hustle now will enable you to relax and recharge during your time off.
Pro tip: Once you go on break, be sure to set an email auto-responder letting people know you’ll have limited access to email. This doesn’t mean you can’t check your email, it simply lets people know not to expect a response until you return.
The peace of mind that having this in place creates can’t be overstated. Loosen the grip on your smartphone, close the lid on your laptop, and enjoy your break.
Do you have any other tips on preparing for a holiday break? I’d love to hear your strategy. Please share them in the comments.
Photo: Luke Jones (CC-BY)