Freelancers face unique challenges around the holidays. As everyone else cruises into paid time off, freelancers face a loss of income that may not get made up and un-reimbursed travel spending. People tend to turn off during the holidays, which can be a major cramp in a freelancers wallet.
There’s a lot to be said for freelancing. And one of those things is that it can be expensive. There’s no company that provides for you; you are your own company. Around the holidays it’s important to make sure that being a freelancer doesn’t mean you lose money or control of your budget. Take a look at how I manage my money all year right here.
You Need a Plan
Plans are like my crack. For those of you that follow Bravely on Instagram, you’ve seen the stories and photos I post of my desk. There are myriad post-its and papers on there each time and it’s a safe bet that they are all lists and plans. (Or parts of a plan. Post its are small.)
So does it shock anyone that I believe that freelancers need a plan to get through the holidays with money in their bank accounts and smiles on their faces?
Since the world is naturally tapping out, you’ll want to look ahead to January. Be as prepared to hit the ground running as you can.
-make a list of clients that you haven’t worked with for at least a month that you want to work back into the rotation
-begin to reach out to clients now for work after the holidays
-create a business plan for 2018. Who do you want to keep working with? What are your income goals? Ask yourself the big picture questions now while things are naturally slowing down.
Setting all this information down on paper will help give you a clear picture of where you are right now in your business, where you want to go, and what you have to do over the holidays to get there.
Set Spending Limits
The next step is to set spending limits for yourself. We earn money at work to spend on our personal lives. But how we conduct our personal lives affects how much money we need to earn. It’s a dance, really. Understanding how they each have an impact on the other will help you groove in style.
So, plan out:
-how much time you’ll take off work for the holidays
-costs for said holidays (gifts, travel, work lost)
-how you’ll pay for them
-set limits for things like travel, gifts, food, lodging, etc
Keeping yourself on your normal spending schedule is the number one way to get through the holidays. Everywhere you turn there’s an opportunity to spend money. While there are expenses that come up this time of the year, spending limits will help keep you on track. Don’t spend mindlessly just because it got cold and stores put up sparkly lights.
Keep Your Network Warm
Freelancers are notorious for letting their network go cold. We’re always chasing the new clients, instead of appreciating the ones we have.
Take the time at the end of the year to thank all the clients you worked with in 2017. Sending thoughtful notes (or emails) or small gifts might be just enough to get you back on someone’s payroll, or keep a current client happy into the new year.
It’s easier to get a client to return to you than to hunt down a brand new client and establish a working relationship. You don’t need to buy everyone a present or empty your bank account to do this. A thoughtful email or note on LinkedIn can go a long way.
The holidays are not a death sentence for freelancers. Stay organized, keep your eyes on the prize, and keep on trucking.