Freelancing Around the Holidays

I’ve freelanced now for almost six years on a full time basis. I use the term “full time” loosely because most days I work around five or six hours. I guess I’m what one could call a lifestyle freelancer or lifestyle business owner. I love what I do, but I also have other things in life that I need to work around.

Since I’ve worked from home for as long as I have, I thought I’d answer a question I’m asked several times of year. What about freelancing around the holidays? Well, there are two points that I’d like to address that answer this question.

Freelancers Do Not Receive Holiday Pay

Even if we’re freelancing for a Fortune 500 company or another well-to-do professional outlet, freelancers do not receive holiday pay. We are self-employed. If we work on a holiday, we work on a holiday. If we don’t, we’re not getting paid. We aren’t employees. We are contract workers. While there are some businesses that will send small gifts of appreciation to their freelancers during the holiday, they aren’t required to give us any sort of holiday pay.

If we take on clients on or outside of popular freelance platforms such as Upwork, we can negotiate holidays in whatever manner we’d like. The key is to be clear with clients about our policies. For example, you don’t work holidays at all, if you must work on a holiday because the client believes there is a pressing issue then they will be charged a premium, etc. If you do plan to charge more for working on holidays and you’re working on Upwork, make sure that you get that money in escrow or permission to manually adjust your hours on that holiday.

Related: How to Train Your Upwork Clients

But, primarily, we do not get holiday pay and we do not get paid sick leave. Or paid vacation. And, no, it doesn’t suck like you think it would because the trade off is that while clients can certainly end contracts and projects or not renew a contract with their freelancer, we are self-employed. And it’s really fucking hard to fire yourself. Freelancing is now a trillion dollar industry. So, for every client that doesn’t come back to work with a freelancer again, there are plenty more potential clients out there. We can take off when we need to do so and for whatever reason suits us…provided that we keep my second point in mind…

Plan in Advance for Time Off From Freelancing

I know it isn’t totally possible to plan in advance for time off from freelancing. I have three sons, two of which are now adults. Sometimes kids get sick from what seems like out of nowhere. And then the little petri dishes share it with us.

So, while maybe we cannot totally plan for the kids or even ourselves getting sick, we do know (for the most part) what holidays or other times of the year that we want to take off. I mean, we all know when Thanksgiving takes place. Christmas is the same day every year. So is New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

And sometimes it isn’t even that we want to have those days off. Sometimes work slows down around the holidays because our clients are tying up loose ends. They don’t want to spend a lot of time in the office.

The key is to plan for time off around the holidays or keep finding clients to keep you paid through the holidays. I tend to mix the two. I work a little less around the holidays since my business is generally balls to the wall from about mid-January through November. But with that said, I also try to ensure that we have money put aside to take care of all of the basics for the times when the law offices I work with slow down. I take the time to work on my own projects, update my own sites, whatever. This year I am focusing on revamping some of my books and their advertising as well as getting the podcasts (plural) recorded and ready to go.

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