The holidays aren’t just coming, they’re here, friends. And while millions of people are loosening their belts and preparing for the chance to chill out and check out, your freelance business doesn’t have that luxury.
Now, yes, I know that many freelancers find themselves with both emptier inboxes and emptier checkbooks over the holidays. Potential clients are often putting business on the backburner during this time… usually saving new contract work for the last minute or the new year. This doesn’t mean, however, that your freelancing business can simply put up its feet for two weeks and expect to be able to land on them after the leftovers are put away.
With a little savvy preparation, you and your freelance business can enjoy a smooth holiday season with an easy transition back to reality.
Now would be a great time to whip up some hot cocoa, toss a little schnapps in there (if you’re into that kind of thing), and walk with us through some tips to help you prepare your freelance business for the holidays.
Double-check Your Deadlines
Holiday anticipation is a palpable thing. Whether you’re salivating over sales or simply excited to play Uno with your favorite aunt, it can be easy to let obviously important tasks slip through the cracks. Things like design revisions and first drafts have a way of waiting in the wings and sneaking up on you, even though you knew they were there the whole time. Nobody wants to wake up in a cold sweat at three in the morning with the realization that they forgot about an assignment… especially in their old high school bedroom after a night of too much mulled wine.
Before you head off on your travels or shift your focus to holiday menu planning, sit down with your client calendar… and if you don’t have a client calendar, you should probably set one up. Go through your list of clients and make completely sure that you’re aware of any owed assignments, make note of them in your planner or scheduling tools, and complete them if you need to.
It’s often said that clients are more forgiving during the holidays, but that’s no excuse for totally spacing a deadline… and it’s not always true. Take a few minutes, assess your work, and plan accordingly.
Prepare your Clients for Blackouts
This can be done simply through a client newsletter or a few quick emails to inform the people who give you business that you won’t be available for business until a specific day.
Chances are your clients won’t have any interest in new work during this time, but that’s the thing about chance… it’s not something to depend on. Getting back into the swing of things after a break is hard enough without adding a backlog of frustrated client emails to your inbox.
Prepare Yourself for Blackouts
The idea of going off the grid for a couple of days can be both thrilling and terrifying. Now, I’m not going to tell you what to do; if you want to work over the holidays, more power to you. I myself will probably be typing away while my kids glue their eyes to the cartoons and my dad naps off his turkey sandwich.
But, some people want to shut off and shut out work for a few days, and that’s great, too. There’s that beautiful freelancing freedom again; you get to do what you want.
This is the part where technology comes in super handy. If you’d like to have a holiday blog post go up, write it ahead of time and schedule it. If you’d like to wish your followers a “Happy Holidays!” tweet, schedule it. If your clients need to remind their patrons that they’ll be closed that day through a Facebook post, schedule it. Social media management platforms such as Hootsuite and Buffer are fantastic options if you want to manage scheduling from one dashboard, while both Twitter for Business and Facebook Pages allow you to schedule from within a profile.
Pack Your Necessities
This may seem obvious, but if you’re traveling, be sure to pack what you need to take your freelancing business on the road.
A laptop without its charger isn’t very helpful once that battery drains, and a crochet shop full of holiday Etsy orders isn’t terribly crafty without any yarn.
Double-check those basics. Toothbrush? Check. Inhaler? Check. iPad? Check.
Make Some Time for Auld Lang Syne
What’s that they say about death and taxes?
No two freelancers have the exact same holiday. People have different religions, traditions, restrictions, and freedoms. One thing’s for sure, though: every freelancer has to take care of taxes.
If the holidays are indeed a slow period for you, this is the perfect time to get ahead on your business’ taxes. If you can set aside even one day in December to devote to getting your expenses, mileage, and tax documents in order, you’ll be far ahead of the game and ready to tackle the new year. Who wants to stress about a previous year when they’re smack dab in the middle of March?
Another (more fun) thing to focus on is last-minute purchases. Do you need a new business planner? Is your desk chair falling apart? Are you lusting after a new camera? This is a great time to buy the things you need (at holiday prices) and add them to your list of expenses.
Eyes on the Prize
Freelancing. It was that glittery dream hanging above your cubicle, tempting you with freedom from vacation requests and dirty looks from bosses. It’s the incredible gift that allows you to set your own rules and schedule. It’s also the maddening gift that adds responsibility to your shoulders and a sense of entrepreneurial urgency to your freetime. Don’t let that urgency keep you from enjoying your freedom; all it takes is a few hours of preparation in order to set you for a few days of pie-induced naps.