How to take holidays off as a freelancer (and still get paid!)
What you’ll learn:
- Why taking time off around the holidays is extra important for freelancers
- How to vacation without hurting your cash flow or disrupting growth goals
- Ways Hopscotch can help your business succeed even when you’re OOO
The holidays are a time for most people to step away from work and focus on their personal lives. That might mean spending time with family and friends, gathering for annual traditions like parties and potluck meals, or just slowing down to focus on end-of-year reflections.
For many freelancers and small business owners, taking time off isn’t simple. Clocking out has repercussions. But that doesn’t mean freelancers should plan to grind through the holiday season without a break. Far from it! You just need a plan.
Below, we’ll cover some simple strategies for supercharging your cash flow before the holidays as well as operational best practices for freelancers before any vacation. Use our tips and checklist if you want to unplug, recharge, and tackle the new year with a fresh focus.
How to supercharge cash flow for the holidays
It’s hard not to feel tethered to your email inbox as a freelancer. Unlike salaried employees, most freelancers don’t get paid if they don’t work. And when you’re solely responsible for bringing money in the door, your work is never done. Even if you’re not actively diving in on a project you’re usually busy lining up new opportunities.
That’s why it’s so important to find ways to proactively pump up your cash flow before the holidays so you have a bit of breathing room. Here are 7 tips to sustain your freelancing revenue through downtime.
01. Remind clients of outstanding balances
If you have clients with outstanding balances, reach out to them ahead of when you plan to be OOO. This is one of the easiest tactics for turning your cash flow to turbo, as it’s collecting on invoices you’re already owed! Ideally, you want to collect all overdue payments before you log off.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy admin task to overlook (or even subconsciously avoid.) We get it — reminding people to pay you is awkward!
One way to avoid getting into this predicament is to amend your payment terms so you get partial payment upfront. The rest of your fee can be paid upon delivery of the goods/services you’re providing. Another pro tip? Use an invoicing platform that automatically reminds your clients when a payment is overdue. That way the pressure isn’t all on your shoulders.
02. Plan ahead to create a safety net
Getting a bite on past-due payments is one way to plan ahead for the holidays. But if you want to plan even further in advance, you can also add a savings goal to your yearly budget. Building up your savings throughout the year can provide a safety net to fall back on when things inevitably slow down around the holiday season.
If you want something that’s more immediate, you can also take advantage of receivable financing products like Hopscotch Flow. Flow gives small businesses and freelancers on-demand access to revenue tied up in outstanding invoices, so you can get paid early and bank that revenue when you need it most.
This can be an easy, no-strings-attached way to ensure you have enough cash to cover your expenses whenever you’re planning to take some time off. It’s also a good alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to risk making a good client relationship awkward by asking about slightly overdue payments — Flow is totally discreet and your clients won’t be notified.
03. Forecast for the new year
If you’re nervous about taking time off during the holidays, you’re not alone! One way to combat that anxiety is by doing some simple revenue planning and workload forecasting before you head offline. Take time to set up meetings in advance or even begin initial conversations around renewing contracts and lining up your next client or project.
If you know you’ll hit the ground running after the holidays, you’ll be in a better position to relax and enjoy your time off — not to mention, making clear plans in advance and even getting scopes of work finalized beforehand means you’ll kick off revenue-generating work more quickly in the new year.
04. Front load projects where possible
Try to front load your projects, aka complete as much work as possible before your holiday begins. For example, if you had planned to pick up a one-off project in a month or two, see if you can jumpstart that and get it knocked out before you take your vacay.
Doing a strategic end-of-year sprint and squeezing in last-minute projects will not only free up your schedule while you’re away, but it will hopefully also result in getting paid sooner. By submitting the invoices before you take a much-deserved respite, you can rest easy knowing those pending payments will be hitting your account in the near future (ideally around the time you return, refreshed and reenergized!)
05. Raise your rates
In addition to filling your schedule, consider charging an extra fee for any rush projects that have a deadline right before you leave. Businesses are always slammed at the end of the year, and many of your clients are likely willing to pay a premium for fast turnaround on quality work.
Raising your rates can be scary, but accumulating extra money before the holidays creates a much-needed revenue boost that will sustain your business through the holidays.
If you’re feeling uncertain about how to justify a random price hike, consider this: your rates should accurately reflect the value you’re providing clients. Around the holidays, the value of fast turnarounds on critical projects goes through the roof. If you can deliver on-demand work, you deserve to get compensated accordingly.
When you notify clients of the price increase, remind them of the additional value they’re getting. It’s not an arbitrary decision or a cash grab — instead, it’s a reflection of their investment and your quality of work.
06. Outsource as needed
If you’re worried about what will happen to your freelancing business while you’re away, consider outsourcing some of your ongoing operational work. You’ll be secure in the knowledge that at least the admin tasks are still getting done — like answering the phone and responding to urgent email notifications — and you won’t miss out on a really great client opportunity.
Make sure that you outsource to a reputable company or freelancer and set clear communication parameters. For example, you should only be contacted directly if x, y, or z happens. That way you are sure to get the dual benefits of downtime and peace of mind.
07. Automate your invoicing process
Setting up a streamlined invoicing process will help you keep things moving even when you’re not in the office. Not to mention, an automated invoicing process enables you to get paid faster all year round. You won’t have to create invoices by hand or send payment reminders manually. Less time on busy work means you’ll have more time to focus on generating revenue.
Automated invoicing can also help you keep better track of your finances. Staying organized is key if you want to take vacation time. You should be able to have clear visibility on how much money is coming in and going out of your business, get an accurate sense of your cash flow, and make adjustments based on your upcoming estimated revenue.
Hopscotch makes it possible to pay and get paid in real time with zero transaction fees. Freelancers can reduce their overall costs and get access to money faster than with other payment methods like checks, credit/debit, and ACH.
Preparing your business for the holidays
Financial preparation around the holidays is important, but it’s not the only thing freelancers need to do before taking time off. Here are a few of the other key priorities to consider:
Ensure your clients know you’ll be away and when they can expect to hear from you. Managing their expectations helps avoid any misunderstandings.
Be realistic about what you can get done before you leave. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
If you have a team, make sure everyone is on the same page about who is taking a vacation and when.
Get your finances in check before the holidays with Hopscotch
Preparing for the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Hopscotch can help you keep your business (and your cash flow) looking strong all year long.
With Hopscotch, you can pay and get paid in real-time with zero fees and control your cash flow with tools like Hopscotch Flow. You can also integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks and automatically reconcile all invoicing and bill pay to your accounting workflow.
Ready to get started? Create a free account today!