I’m a Freelancer. I Can’t Afford a Sick Day!

Working Through a Sick DayOh No, I’m Sick!

When the nine-to-five crowd feels a sniffle coming on, they can fall back on their stock of “sick days” or “personal days” to see them through. They can use those paid days off whenever their minds or bodies need a break from the daily grind to rest and heal. But, the self-employed blogger, SEO writer or freelancer simply doesn’t have that luxury. When she feels the first chill of a fever, she knows no one’s going to pay her while she curls up in a comforter, sips some hot tea and spends the day watching YouTube. Nope. When a freelance writer is sick, she has to face the fact that if she stops writing to take care of herself, her bottom line will suffer.

The First-Aid Kit

If you’re a freelancer and wondering how to struggle through a sick day without sacrificing your income, here are a few tricks to pack into your economic first-aid kit.

  • Don’t power through – When you know you’re sick, resist the temptation to simply ignore your symptoms. You might want to tell yourself, “I can just write anyway.” But, pushing yourself too hard can actually make the situation worse. A cold or virus that would have passed in a few days, may linger if you don’t rest and take care of yourself. You may end up sacrificing more time—and productivity—because you didn’t stop working.
  • Drop to half speed – Just because you can’t meet your usual quota, doesn’t mean a sick day has to be a total loss. You may still be able to do some writing as long as you drink plenty of fluids and judiciously follow your nap schedule. Drop as many assignments as you can. Message your clients and explain your predicament. Maybe some of your deadlines can be pushed back. Prioritize the projects that can’t be rescheduled and leave the others for another day.
  • Run some damage control – If you’re too sick to spend even part of the day at your desk, you still might be able to get some work done. Use the time in bed to brainstorm. Ninety percent of writing starts there anyway. Use voice-to-text software to sketch out a few rough drafts, or let your Microsoft text-to-speech feature read some of your in-progress pieces back to you. It’s a great way to find typos and those pesky misplaced modifiers. Work on query letters or idea pitches. Use a space pen; it will allow you to write without sitting up. Don’t submit anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. Those final read-throughs really should wait until you’re feeling better.
  • Give into it – Recognize when you simply have to take a day off. You’re only human, after all. There will be times when you’re simply too sick to work. Face it. Take the time you need to heal, knowing that once you’ve fully recovered, you’ll be able to make up the lost work.

Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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