I can’t tell you how many freelance writers email me this time of year with the same concern: Vacation time.
More specifically, they want to know …
– Is it possible to take vacation time without hurting your career?
– Or ruining your chances of being a six-figure writer?
– Or angering your clients?
– Or losing out on money?
It happens like clockwork as spring comes to a close, but I’m so glad people reach out. This is the whole reason we became freelance writers – to make our own schedules, to break free of the 9-to-5 and to lead the life WE want … on our own terms.
So yes, you can take vacation time. But more importantly, you should.
Here’s how to do it:
- Plan it now (like right this very second.) The best way to keep your vacation from impacting your career negatively is to plan way ahead – a few months at minimum. This gives you plenty of time to alert your clients, get a leg up on deadlines and save some cash.
- Get a clear picture of all your deadlines leading up. Work with your clients to get details on any projects or assignments they have in the works for you, and ask about upcoming deadlines – including ones that would come up during your vacation or the week or so after. Pencil these all in your calendar.
- Work backward to budget your time. Once you know what you have to complete before you leave, work backward from your vacation, and start budgeting time each week to work on all your projects in the pipeline. Be sure to allot an extra few hours each week to any projects or assignments that may come up spur of the moment or need urgent attention.
- Establish a cut-off date. Give your clients a cut-off date for new assignments – anything you’re not currently aware of. I usually go with two weeks ahead of the vacation, but if you’ve got a bigger work or client load, you may want to do three weeks instead. (That doesn’t mean you aren’t working for three weeks; it just means you need to have assignments by at least three weeks out, or the client won’t have it before you leave.)
- Set clear expectations. Let clients know you’re going to be off the grid – away from your phone, email and Skype for X amount of time. Tell them well in advance, and make sure they know what date you’ll be back in business, answering emails and up for new assignments. Put up an out-of-office message on your accounts as a reminder – and so no one thinks they’re being ignored while you’re away.
Most clients understand that even though we freelance writers have pretty enviable careers, we work pretty darn hard – and we need vacations just like any other professional. As long as you plan ahead and keep your clients in the loop long before you sign off, there’s no reason you can’t have a long, relaxing break from the writing grind.