Even the happiest workaholic needs to take a break occasionally and the summer months are the perfect time to do so. For employees, it’s simply a case of booking time off and stocking up on sun cream, but finding the time and money to take a vacation when you work freelance is something more of a challenge. So here are some handy hints and tips to help you get the time off you deserve, without breaking the bank or losing all your clients!
Holidays have proven health benefits. In a study published in the UK earlier this year by Expedia, 81% of the 31 million respondents said they felt better after taking a holiday. Other benefits included reduced stress, increased relaxation and even weight loss and better skin condition.
Freelancers need holidays just as much as paid employees do – they just need to plan ahead a little more in order to achieve the same holiday health benefits.
August is seen by many freelancers as the best month for a summer vacation. During this month, many clients put their work on hold and head to the beach for some rest and relaxation. This means that many translators see a notable drop in workload over the month. The seasonal dip creates the perfect opportunity for freelance translators to take a break with relative ease.
Holidays don’t need to be expensive. Staycations, where you explore your local area, catch up on projects around the home and spend quality time with family and friends, can provide just as much relaxation as a trip overseas. They also avoid the hassle and expense of international travel, which many people find to be a stressful experience in itself.
If you do plan to see more of the world, make sure you plan for the expense in advance. Think about holiday time when setting your translation rates and make sure you factor in spending several weeks of the year not working when you set your fees. Knowing how to make more money translating throughout the year is key to this.
You can also book extra work in the weeks leading up to your break. It might mean working at times you wouldn’t usually, like evenings or weekends, but it will feel well worth it as you unwind on your vacation.
Whether you choose to stay at home for your break or travel abroad, your clients will need plenty of notice of the dates that you will be unavailable. Simply assuming that August will be quiet and hoping to get away is a sure-fire way to spend your holiday hunched over your laptop while those you’ve travelled with are busy having fun in the pool.
Let your clients know well in advance and ask them if they are likely to have any urgent translation work that will need completing during the time you are away. Prompting your clients to think ahead should help to ensure that you are undisturbed during your time off. It can also have the added benefit of encouraging clients to send you their next translation project sooner. A carefully worded email can act as a marketing activity as well as a way to plan your break.
If you’re taking a long break over the summer, be sure to do all you can to avoid your clients finding an alternative translator while you are away. Let them know your vacation dates in advance and then offer them an incentive to use your services again once you are back. You could try offering a discount to all those who book jobs in for the first two weeks after your break, for example. Whatever the incentive, it will give clients an extra reason to continue using your services, despite your long absence. Sending a reminder of the offer a couple of weeks before you get back can also help - you can draft the email before you go, so as to reduce the time spent dealing with sending it while you are away.
What have you found works best when planning for your summer vacation finances? And what have you learned to avoid? We’d love to hear your thoughts.