Getting ready for holiday
How to plan for a break as a freelancer
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With a heatwave in full flow and schools in the UK breaking up this week (well those that haven’t already closed for the summer), there was only one topic we could write about over at FFJ Headquarters. How do you manage a holiday when you’re freelance?
This is something we take very seriously. For the past couple of years, Lily and Emma have both planned ahead to take a large chunk of the summer off as a way of taking a bit of a well-earned break but also avoiding eye-watering childcare bills.
For us freelance means flexibility and being in control of your own diary but that obviously comes with the massive caveat that we have no holiday pay and no one else is going to take over our work when we put that out of office on.
Taking that decision to have some decent time off (we mean really taking time off not working from another location), can also mean a race against time to meet a ton of deadlines.
So here are our top tips for preparing for and hopefully enjoying a holiday or break from work as a freelancer.
You need a holiday fund to not only pay for a trip if you want to get away but also cover that time when you are on leave and so not earning. This needs to be planned well in advance with a little bit of money put aside whenever you can. Making sure she does this has been a game-changer says FFJ co-founder Emma. “This summer, I will be away for three weeks and only working a couple of days a week for the other three. It’s been planned for the rest of the year so I can make sure the bills will still get paid.”
Warn regular clients in advance
If you have any regular gigs that will be impacted by you taking some time off, make sure you tell them well in advance you will be away and when you will be back. They will be glad of the opportunity to plan around it and in our experience will welcome you with open arms and plenty of work at the end of it. This advice also follows if you have any edits that haven’t come back - warn your editors you won’t be available between ‘x’ dates then they can work within your timeframe if they need to.
Only take on work you can definitely get done in time
Knowing you are going away, the temptation will be to pitch like mad and take on all work to try and mitigate against loss of earnings when you’re gone. We refer you back to point number one. But also let’s be realistic, we will give into this temptation. You just have to make sure you can meet all those deadlines otherwise you will either miss the start of your holiday, be too exhausted to enjoy the break, or leave a stream of disgruntled editors in your wake.
Build in a buffer zone
Allow yourself time in the run up to taking that leave for things to go wrong, articles to take longer than expected and remember you still have to pack, find that passport, convince the neighbour to water your plants, etc. Plan all those deadlines for a couple of days before you actually go and save yourself a lot of panic.
Get those invoices in
Once you have cleared all that work out of the way, don’t forget to submit those invoices immediately. As well as being necessary to get paid it also means you’re not leaving anything undone, running the risk you will forget to send them at all.
Stick to your boundaries
Depending what type of break you’re taking, put in place your own boundaries and stick to them. You may feel you still need to check emails but perhaps limit that to once a day. Or if you are cutting down to working a couple of days, don’t let that start to creep up again. Have a plan for how you will respond to requests for work so you don’t fall into the trap of taking on work you don’t want to do.
Do actually switch everything off and relax
There is no point going to all this effort if you then don’t enjoy your holiday because you’re worried about what’s happening on the work front. Put the out of office on, log out of social media, and focus on yourself and spending some time thinking about and doing other things. You may not be able to actually get away but you could spend time meeting friends, exploring your local area or doing a few day trips. If you do this properly you will recharge without even realising it and be ready to go again once you’re back at your desk.
New podcast episode
We have another fantastic Summer Reads podcast episode out today! If you have ever wondered about how the process of ghostwriting works then you’re in the right place.
This week, Lucy Waterlow, a freelance journalist behind several running books, including Nell McAndrew’s Guide to Running and two books about the feats of world record endurance athlete Mimi Anderson takes us behind the scenes. We chat about getting a book deal, interviews and getting the tone and voice right.
Triumph of the week
Sending out many many invoices to all hopefully get paid while we’re relaxing in the sun.
That feeling when
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