At this time of year, freelance Twitter is awash with complaints. From not getting paid on time, to client’s requesting work right before the holidays, freelancing at Christmas can be a rough.
I’ve been a full-time freelancer at Christmas at least 5 times now, and I’m learning to get better at it. One year, a client requested that something be posted on their social media ON CHRISTMAS DAY. And the graphics wouldn’t be ready until that day, so it couldn’t be scheduled.
That was a bummer.
Another time, a client sent me work to do the day before Christmas Eve and asked for it to be completed by Boxing Day.
This year, I’ve developed a system for protecting my time. And you don’t have to stick to using this at Christmas. You can use this for any occasion where you want to take some time off and feel the need to put a barbed wire fence around it.
Top tips for freelancing at Christmas
The first thing you need to remember is that only you can protect your time. With a bit of forward planning, you can set yourself up for success. You can also decide how strict you are going to be. At the end of the day, you have to decide what your time is worth. It’s the only commodity you cannot buy more of.
Give your clients lots of notice
I let my clients know my Christmas hours at the start of November. This gave them plenty of time to stack up the work in November so that it wouldn’t spill over into December, and then into Christmas.
One client still made me wince with a couple of last minute requests, but I could easily handle it because it was only one. In previous years, all of my clients did this because I only told them my Christmas hours at the start of December.
Put your Christmas hours in your signature
Most of your clients probably work with quite a few freelancers, and keeping track of all of their schedules will be quite difficult. Make their lives easier by adding your Christmas working hours to your email signature. Make it nice and festive so that is stands out from the ordinary.
Treat yourself like a client
If your clients struggle to respect your personal time, treat yourself like another client. Instead of saying you’re taking time off, say you’re fully booked. If your clients are anything like mine, they will hear the words “fully booked” loud and clear. But “taking time off” just means that I could probably fit in the work if it’s really really really urgent.
Be as flexible as you want to be
Here’s the thing about freelancing at Christmas
You’re in charge.
If something completely awesome crops up, then go for it! Just wait until one of the in-between days where nothing much happens anyway.
Over the Christmas period, I blocked off two weeks and completely protected one week. Why? Because I recognise that I’m a bit of a workaholic. I forced myself to take at least one week off, and I’ve already broken this promise by writing this post. I still have a bit of wiggle room to accept work if it will help me get ahead for January.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll always be thinking about your work and your clients. But I get some of my best ideas when I take a step back and relax a little bit. Make sure you avoid the Christmas burn out and take some time off this Christmas!
You might be feeling the financial squeeze, but then you’ll be refreshed and ready to go in January.