All I Want For Christmas is Paid Time Off: How to Take a Holiday Break as a Freelancer

Jingle bell…on the clock? Independent professionals tend to struggle with an inconsistent income, so many freelancers think they need to take on whatever work comes along. This often means they either can’t even take time off during the holidays—or feel guilty if they do.

Money is essential, of course. But a little well-earned R&R can refresh, motivate, and energize you for a new year of professional growth. So here’s how to take a week or two of time off as a freelancer without blowing your 2019 budget.

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Give your clients an advance heads-up about your vacation plans ASAP. It’s just common courtesy—and gives everyone ample time to adjust workflows and timeframes as necessary. Without that warning, they may feel as if you left them in the lurch and could even start working with another freelancer. To avoid that, shoot your clients an email, remind them regularly in the weeks leading up to your absence, and even add it directly on their calendars if you have access. And it never hurts to send them a holiday gift as a token of your appreciation!

Pro tip: set your Fiverr seller profile to vacation mode before you leave so you don’t leave any potential customers hanging while you are OOO.

2. Double up on workload.

If possible, plan on delivering any outstanding work to clients early. That way, you empower them to provide feedback before you leave and wrap up the year on a good note. Rushing to meet deadlines leads to sloppy mistakes and poor reviews, so don’t leave your work until the last minute. If you have the visibility on your clients’ 2019 needs, you may even want to jumpstart some projects so there isn’t as much looming over your head while you are gone. While it could lead to weekend work or later nights for you now, it will free up holiday time and keep your clients happy. They’ll appreciate your ability to anticipate issues, communicate clearly, and stay well ahead of schedule.

3. Start a vacation fund.

If your main concerns about taking a break are financial, start saving a few months in advance. Try adding a percentage of each paycheck to your vacation fund—even small amounts add up over time! It’s worth cutting back on little luxuries like coffee drinks and meals out—or picking up a few extra Gigs over the weeks prior to Christmas—if it means a “paid” vacation at the end of the year.

Calculate how much it will cost for that time off, and then add up the anticipated lost revenue plus any extra costs incurred during the holiday season. If you plan on traveling anywhere, those expenses also need to be included. Divide that total by the number of weeks remaining before the vacation. The result is the weekly amount you’ll need to set aside to create the vacation fund.

In the future, add holiday vacations into your yearly budget so you are not caught off-guard or need to dip into your savings. Learn more about how to set SMART (no, that’s not a typo) financial goals with The Fiscal Femme.

4. Regularly (but reasonably) raise your rates.

Making more= saving more. It may seem obvious, but raising your freelance rates will help set aside more money faster, especially if you stick to the old budget that was based on lower rates. This approach will not only help you fund your holiday fun but also keep you competitive within your industry.

Freelancers often get nervous about raising their rates, fearing that clients might ditch them for someone cheaper. But remember: price is the representation of a service’s value. serious business buyers will pay for professional, premium services. If you incrementally raise the price of your Gig in accordance with market standards—while continuing to deliver quality and reliability—clients will most likely agree to (and understand why they need to) pay more.

Fiverr friend and full-time freelancer Natalie Zfat stopped by to share some advice on how to set (and change) your rates as a freelancer.

5. Agree on a compromise.

Even if it’s still not financially feasible to take a big vacation, you don’t need to deprive yourself entirely. Try working half days during the holiday season, shifting your schedule to start a little earlier in the day, or even enjoying a mini staycation at home. That way, you can still sh#! done while setting aside ample time to relax, enjoy the season’s festivities, and creating memories your family and friends. So indulge in a little yuletide cheer—you’ve earned it!

Freelancers, how do you make vacation or time off a priority during the holidays? Share your tips in the comments below! 

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