How to Survive the Holidays as a Freelancer

The holidays can be an amazing time where you get to attend get-togethers, eat (more) delicious food, and in theory, …

The holidays can be an amazing time where you get to attend get-togethers, eat (more) delicious food, and in theory, relax a little bit.

However, as a freelancer, the holidays may not bring as much relaxation or time off as you want. You might find that you’re working through the holidays, or thinking about the work that’s piling up if you take a break.

Check out this holiday survival guide to help you enjoy the holidays as a freelancer.

Manage Your Workload

In the traditional workplace, time off at the holidays is fairly standard, even if it’s only a day or two. Sometimes though, people work at companies that close for a couple weeks and you’re expected to simply take time off.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Full-time freelancers may be able to figure out their workload in a way that allows them some time off; when you have long-term relationships with clients and have enough work that you can cut back at the holidays, a holiday break may be a reality.

However, for those of you starting out, or working freelance part-time, you might not be at a point where you can anticipate your workload, plan ahead, or work with your editors to lighten the load at the holidays.

It might not be a reality to take a long break at the holidays, but start planning now for how you can allow yourself a bit of breathing room:

  • If you have deadlines within a few days of the holidays, try your best to complete them sooner than when they’re due
  • Work ahead on everything leading up to the holidays; this will allow you to work ahead on what’s coming up after
  • If you have ongoing relationships with clients or editors, consider asking them now if you can work ahead on anything to allow you some time off
  • Complete the tasks that feel the hardest and leave the easier or more enjoyable ones for later. That way, if you can’t get through everything, at least you have “easier” tasks around the holidays

Even if you can’t get ahead on everything, lightening your load a bit may help you enjoy the holidays more.

Being a freelancer is amazing, but having to work while others play is something that can create resentment, and feeling that way is no good!

Give Yourself a Break

If you’re not able to get ahead, or things come up that get in the way of you completing your work the way you wanted, it’s still important to give yourself a break and relax.

Maybe you commit that for two days you’ll enjoy the holidays, without stressing about your workload, and then you’re back at it.

Or, you decide to work much later than you’d like so that you can give yourself a break over the weekend to attend a party.

To give yourself a break, you still need to plan ahead, but it may be short-term planning that can help you tackle your work and take some time to relax.

Prioritize what is most important (maybe you don’t need to go to all of the parties) and when you decide to take a break, do it guilt-free.

Don’t think about the work. It will be there when you’re done relaxing and enjoying your time over the holidays.

And when you do get back to that work, don’t feel bad that you took some time off. You deserve it!

Take Time to Reflect

The holidays are generally a time of positivity, enjoyment, and a natural time of reflection. This is a great time to transfer that to reflection to your freelance career (even if you’ve just started!):

  • Think about the positives you’d had this year (or this quarter)
  • Read through your most well-received articles
  • Reflect on areas of growth in the last year, for example, you now take feedback better, or you’ve improved your ability to find strong leads
  • Take time to think about the benefits of being a freelancer and how that helps you achieve your goals

Often as freelancers, we finish up a task or article and move onto the next. This doesn’t allow us to pause and consider the changes we’re making and growth we’ve had.

Don’t miss this opportunity to reflect on the positives and grow from that. This reflection can also lead nicely to setting goals for yourself for the new year.

Appreciate Those You’ve Worked With

Though the holidays are not about giving gifts, it’s become part of what we often do. Parents send gifts to their kid’s teachers, we leave thank you’s for our mail carriers, and we may tip more generously to those who provide us with services.

Don’t overlook the opportunity to thank those that you work with professionally, even if it was one job at the start of the year. This is a perfect way to further develop the relationships in your network and can even lead to more work for next year.

How do you do that?

Simple–send eCards.

Last year I sent eCards to the editors I had worked with, thanking them for the opportunities they had given me, wishing them a happy holiday season, and confirming that I was excited to continue to work together.

What came from this?

Several positive reactions, including an editor who referred me to a colleague looking for a writer. Had I not sent that card, I might not have been the person she recommended.

Use Holiday Get-Togethers To Your Advantage

With the holidays often come get-togethers. There may be holiday meals, parties, and extra time to hang out.

You should use this time to relax, but also use it to help your freelancing career. Remember that you can use these opportunities to build your network in a non-slimy way.

Networking is about building relationships; friends and family are in your network and you never know who they have in their network.

At gatherings any time of year, most people ask how you’ve been and what you’re up to.

It’s so easy to blow off this question, but use this as an opportunity to share that you’re doing some freelance writing.

For example:

“Actually- I’m really excited that in the last couple months I’ve made a shift to freelance writing…”

[they might stare blankly or give a polite “oh”. Keep going, and be enthusiastic.]

“Yeah, I’ve realized that I could combine my love of writing with my knowledge of the tech industry. It’s been really great to get to be paid for something I enjoy!”

And then, move on. You’ve planted the seed. They now know you write and you get paid.

Ask how they’re doing and what they’re up to.

If they want to talk more about what you do, they’ll ask. But now might not be the time, so enjoy your holiday get-togethers and make a note to follow up after the holidays if anything freelance-related comes up in your conversations.

Don’t Overspend

Everyone’s budget and level of spending is different, and managing money at the holidays can be tricky no matter what your career!!

However, as freelancers, we don’t always know when or where the next paycheck will come from. If you’re lucky enough to have a steady client or two, that can also feel stressful because if they decide they no longer want to work with you, then there goes a big chunk of your income.

So, resist the urge to splurge for weeks on end. Like planning your workload, try to plan your spending and anticipate the extras that tend to come along this time of year.

You may also want to consider the spending that others will do. If you know you have some gifts coming your way, think about asking for the things that will help you with your business.

Not sure what to ask for? Check out our gift guide!

Enjoy Yourself

We can’t say it enough: the holidays should include JOY.

Yes, they also include stress (Or is that just me? I hope not!), but make sure you take this time of year to relax and enjoy yourself.

There will be more time to work when all the pie has been eaten and the wrapping has been recycled. So, use this holiday survival guide to not just survive the holidays, but truly enjoy them!

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