Everyone can use some holiday freelance tips to get them through this busiest season of the year. With all the festivities and family gatherings to deal with, things can become toxic. It’s difficult to balance all that with work, especially for freelancers who can’t get away because they work from home.
With a number of projects to juggle and a handful of clients to satisfy, things can easily go out of hand if you’re not organized.
The last thing you need is to get overwhelmed with deadlines and customer complaints when you should be celebrating with the family. With that being said, below are a couple of holiday freelance tips you can apply to keep your clients happy during the holiday season.
1. Determine your availability
Right from the get-go, it’s important for you to set your availability. The holidays are a time for family and friends. You’ll surely want to get away from your laptop even just for a few days so you can spend time with loved ones.
One of the most important holiday freelancer tips to remember is to arrange your schedule a few weeks before the holiday season. Know when you will take time off and when you’ll be available for work. More importantly, stick to it. Learn to say no if you’re not supposed to work on a specific day.
As much as you want to keep your clients happy, at the end of the day, you also have loved ones who are longing for your presence. If you balance everything, everyone can be happy.
2. Communicate vacation days as soon as possible
Once you have determined your availability, it’s your responsibility to inform them about your vacation days. Make sure to tell them in advance so they can plan ahead.
This will give them time to delegate work to other freelancers or hire additional ones to cover the workload if needed. Just make sure to finish all your deliverables before you take off so your absence will not disrupt the business’ operations.
3. Proactively reach out and ask them about their holiday needs
if you’ve worked with a client for a long time, chances are, you already know about their needs. You know what needs to be done who needs to do it, and when. These are things that you do during normal days, something the holidays aren’t by any means.
The demand is high and the opportunities are overflowing during the holiday season. It would be a total waste not to take advantage, so make sure to ask your clients about their holiday requirements.
Do they need you to work more hours? Are there changes to your daily workflow that they would like to see? Don’t wait for the client to assign tasks to you. Show some initiative by proactively reaching out and asking them about the business’ holiday needs.
4. Do not overbook yourself
As a freelancer, it’s tempting to take on more projects at a time when freelance work is in demand. More clients means more dollars, right?
This is completely understandable from a financial point of view. Just make sure to take on projects whose requirements you can realistically deliver. Don’t put your reputation at risk by taking on more projects than you can handle. This is one of the more crucial holiday freelance tips to keep in mind if you want to come back to happy clients, good feedback and lots of work.
5. Make improvements in your daily reports
People like buying stuff during the holiday season and business owners are aware of this. It’s not surprising to see an increase in orders during this time, so expect things to move at a faster pace.
One of the best ways you can help your clients is to make things easier for them. A good way to do this is to make improvements in your daily reports. Make them as clear and as comprehensive as possible so they’ll have everything they need to make sound business decisions.
6. Front-load as much work as you can
The idea of taking some time off is nothing short of exciting. Being away from work for a couple of days gives you the opportunity to recharge. Before the holiday arrives, try to do as much work as you possibly can. Work on projects ahead of schedule so you’ll have less to think about once you come back.
By doing this, you’ll be able to take some items off your plate and feel less guilty for having fun when you have projects you should be working on.
7. Learn to turn down work
With the rise in sales and an increase in customer demands, it’s not unusual for clients to have additional, last-minute requests. As much as you would like to please them and earn extra, however, you might be better off saying no. This is especially true when you are already fully-loaded.
Most freelancers work with multiple clients. If you’re going to say yes to every request during a very busy season, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Only take projects you can complete on time because failing to meet expectations can negatively affect your reputation.
This, the booking and front-loading holiday freelance tips go together to keep your work schedule clean.
8. Know which projects to prioritize
As a freelancer who’s used to working on multiple projects, dealing with a number of deadlines also comes with the territory. While most of them are manageable most of the time, the holiday season can be a bit more stressful.
Everything seems to be a lot more urgent during the holidays. In most cases, you only have a small window to finish certain projects. Knowing which ones to prioritize will come in handy.
Make sure to list all of your projects and take note of their due dates. Put those whose due dates are about to come on top of the pile then work your way towards the bottom. Try to resist the temptation of doing projects according to the level of difficulty because this strategy can easily backfire.
9. Get organized by setting up calendar reminders
We’d like to assume that our memories are still as sharp as they used to be. Doing everything by memory during a busy season can spell disaster. You may think that you are on top of things and that you can remember every minute detail, but chances are, you will miss something.
With the demands of the holiday season making things a bit more fast-paced, you owe it to yourself and your clients to become more organized. The good news is apps like Google Calendar exist.
Set up calendar reminders and notifications on your phone as well as your computer so you won’t miss any scheduled meetings or deadlines. Let’s face it, it’s easier to remember things when you’ve got someone to remind you even if that someone is not a person.
10. Overcommunicate when necessary
The holiday season is the worst time to forget that communication is key. Put this mantra in action now if you haven’t already. With all the rush projects and last-minute follow-ups you have to deal with, talking to clients more than feels natural is a good thing.
Working on tight deadlines can be stressful and can lead to possible mistakes if you’re not too careful. If you’re not sure of something, make sure to ask questions. Clarify things that are causing confusion and doubt because being in a rush is not an excuse for making mistakes.
If something’s not clear about the topic for your next blog post, ask the client to clarify. If the shipping address provided by a customer doesn’t seem to be right, confirm it. You don’t want to send a product to the wrong address just because you’re too busy.
11. Make sure to deliver work before you take a leave
As the holiday season approaches, you probably have plans for a quick getaway or break from work. This is not too much to ask considering how you’ve been working really hard over the past year. Even if you work from home, you still need to take breaks. Just make sure to show some courtesy before you go off on vacation.
This may sound like one of those no-brainer holiday freelance tips, but a lot of people miss it. You need to finish any pending projects you still have on the table before you go. Make your clients’ lives easier by completing what’s on your plate instead of leaving it for them or forcing them to find someone to do it for you.
12. Automate some of your tasks
With all the deadlines you have to meet, this may be the perfect time to take advantage of what technology has to offer. Tracking emails or chasing payments shouldn’t be as time-consuming when there are apps that can help you automate these tasks.
Planning content for social media, for example, can be done much easier with apps like Buffer or Hootsuite. These scheduling apps allow you to create posts and schedule them all in one place. No need to jump from one platform to another. You can also help your clients automate accounting to take some of the load off.
13. Unplug from social media
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, there’s no denying that social media takes up a lot of our time. It’s easy to get distracted every time we hear that “new message” notification on our phones.
If you can’t stop yourself from checking your phone, you must take measures to at least keep yourself from getting tempted. When you’re in the middle of work, you can either turn your phone off or put it on silent. Turn off the vibration, too, for added assurance.
14. Take shorter breaks
When you’re not in a rush, you tend to relax and take your time. You only work when you want to and you don’t let work get in the way of going out or playing video games. After all, that’s what freelancing is all about, right?
Under normal circumstances, that shouldn’t be a problem. When you’re facing high client demands, however, that routine should change. Put as much focus on work as you possibly can. Take shorter breaks whenever possible so you can get more things done and still remain fresh for every project.
15. Be more flexible
Being more flexible can mean a lot of things when you’re freelancing during the holidays. While it’s already a given that you are on a flexible schedule, you also need to make adjustments on your end.
As mentioned earlier, some of your routines will need to take a backseat. You need to be open to the possibility of working more hours or being assigned tasks on short notice.
Business demands and needs are totally different during the holidays, especially for eCommerce businesses. You need to be able to make some adjustments to help your clients meet those demands.
16. Have more open communication channels
Proper communication is crucial when you’re freelancing in the holidays. Any misunderstanding can prove too costly during such time.
To ensure continuity, keep various communication channels open and let your clients know. Anything can happen during the busy season, and you want them to be able to contact you.
17. Establish daily check-ins and provide updates
With business operations running at a faster pace, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. You simply can’t afford any breakdown in communication, especially when there are a ton of orders to process.
One way to keep this from happening is to establish daily check-ins both with clients and collaborators you’re working closely with. it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. A simple chat message or email to give progress updates is enough. The point is to keep key people informed to minimize disruptions.
18. Respond as quickly as you possibly can
At this point, it’s clear that freelancing over the holidays requires a sense of urgency. We’ve also established how crucial communication is in maintaining business momentum.
With that being said, every email communication you receive should be treated with the utmost importance. Each of them should be responded to within 24 hours because a lot hangs in the balance.
One missed email can be damaging to the business so make sure to turn your notifications on and regularly check your email.
19. Immediately report any issues you may encounter
As a rule of thumb, your clients should be aware of everything that’s going on inside the business. This is especially true at a time when there’s an opportunity to make a lot of money.
If you encounter difficulties that are keeping you from performing your tasks, make sure to bring it to their attention ASAP. Keep in mind that in times like these, every second of every minute counts.
If the website is down or the checkout button isn’t working, report it immediately. Your client’s business stands to lose money with every second that the problem remains unaddressed.
20. Keep yourself healthy
It goes without saying that none of these plans will be possible if you can’t keep yourself healthy. A lot of factors can lead to poor health during the holidays, making this one of the most important holiday freelance tips you need to take note of.
From the cold weather to the kind of diet you are on (or lack thereof considering the festivities), getting sick will always be a possibility. Watch what you eat and take your vitamins regularly. Get enough sleep and don’t stress yourself too much because your clients need you.
21. Create an environment that allows you to focus
On normal days when things aren’t urgent, usual distractions like television and social media are tolerable. Freelancing over the holidays, however, is an entirely different story.
With the volume and the urgency you’re facing, staying focused is essential. Try to find a place where you can work quietly. Go somewhere private, somewhere without television or any other form of distraction.
It’s understandable that a few relatives may come visit and the house may get a bit noisy from all the chit chat. You can’t work under such conditions. it’s also advisable not to work in coffee shops for the meantime for obvious reasons.
22. Ask clients how you can be of further assistance
Clients need all the help they can get to make their customers happy. Though they have freelancers like you to take care of key tasks, they may have more on their plates considering the demand brought about by the holiday season.
Don’t hesitate to ask clients if they need further help. Not because you can use the extra money, but because you really want to help. Showing this kind of initiative will make them appreciate you even more.
23. Take advantage of available downtime
The last and probably one of the most important holiday freelance tips I’d like to leave you with is to make the most out of your time off. Spend time with friends and family by celebrating the holidays together and make each moment count.
You may not have a lot of time to rest during the holidays. Take every opportunity to recharge so you don’t start the new year all burned out.
Apply these Holiday Freelance Tips
Freelancing during the holidays shouldn’t be as intimidating as many perceive it to be. With proper planning and discipline, balancing your time between personal gatherings and work, it shouldn’t be difficult.
While the holiday season may be the busiest season for your clients’ businesses, it shouldn’t keep you from spending time with the family. The holiday freelance tips provided above should help you perform your duties and enjoy the holidays, too. After all, making both your clients and your loved ones happy is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
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Noel Rosos is a personal development writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Life’s How You Live It, a personal development blog dedicated to helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of. He is also a writer/contributor for Arianna Huffington’s wellness site, Thrive Global. He is an affiliate marketer, a full-time husband and father, and a self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST.