The best thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work whenever you feel like it – at least that’s what many new writers think. Before you know it, you’re drowning in deadlines and you haven’t had a day off since 2005. A writing career doesn’t have to be that way, though. You deserve to take time off from work and let your mind and body rest. With a little planning, you can schedule a few days away from your keyboard for a vacation, surgery, or some much-needed “you” time.
Increase Your Workload Prior to Your Vacation
We all have different reasons for putting off the vacation days that we so desperately need. Some freelance writers are workaholics who hate to say “no” to new projects and assignments, while others don’t even realize they haven’t taken a day off in years until they get a stern lecture from the doctor. Then there are the writers who can’t afford to take a break. After all, the rent and utilities don’t pay themselves.
Sound familiar? Increase your workload before you schedule a few days off. Cram in several big projects right before your vacation starts, or do one extra article a day for a month or two. If you’re the type who tends to overspend, pay your bills the minute you have the money. You don’t want to spend your vacation time worrying about eviction proceedings or disconnection notices.
Many writers network with other writers they have met online or at writing conventions. Find a few writer friends who are capable of meeting deadlines and producing quality content, preferably content with a style or tone that is somewhat similar to yours. Ask them if they are willing to help tackle your workload on the days you need a break. This is commonly referred to as “outsourcing” or “overflow” on writing forums, and it is only unethical if the client doesn’t know what you’re doing.
Notify Clients in Advance
Let your clients know about your vacation plans as far in advance as you possibly can. Nobody likes surprises, especially when the surprises involve unanswered emails and neglected projects. If applicable, inform them that you have a team of high-quality freelance writers ready to work on urgent assignments while you are away. Make sure each client has the contact information, as well as a few links or samples of published work, for the members of your writing team.
Be Polite Yet Firm
Some clients are clingy. They’re kind of like that boyfriend or girlfriend you had back in high school (or maybe you were that insecure partner): They need you, and they need you now. You know which clients these are. They are the ones who email you no less than 15 times a day and have your number on speed dial. They are the ones who get on Skype every 10 minutes and ask how the project is coming along. They are usually great people, but they require significantly more attention than your other clients.
These clients may not take the news of your vacation well, so you have to break the news in a polite yet firm manner. Do not ask if they will be okay; they will be just fine. Let them know that you will be taking a few days off and reassure them that you will be back. Give them the exact time and date that you will stop responding to emails, as well as the exact time and date that you will resume your work-related duties. Failure to do this might cause you to come home to an inbox or voicemail filled with panicky messages.
Take Advantage of Autoresponders
Clients who work with a large team of freelance writers might forget you are on vacation and attempt to contact you. Rectify this situation by setting up an autoresponder for all of your business-related email accounts. Your message should mention that you are on vacation but will be returning soon. This is also good for new clients who might contact you through your website and have no idea that you are away.
Finally, don’t forget to update your website. Many freelance writers have a writing website that advertises their services and rates. Leave a brief announcement on your contact page stating that you are on vacation and will return soon. Use a service like HootSuite to schedule Tweets and Facebook status updates if some of your clients find you through social networking sites. This prevents you from constantly having to update your sites, allowing you to actually enjoy the vacation that you finally got around to taking.
Missy N is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.