Three top tips on how to retire gracefully as a freelancer

October 22, 2015
Three top tips on how to retire gracefully as a freelancer

Retirement day for employees is a fairly straightforward affair. You go to work as usual, sign some papers with the Human Resources department and (hopefully) get a nice gift from your colleagues. You might even enjoy a lunch with your team or drinks after work. 

For freelancers, retirement is more complicated and takes some careful planning. Here are three top tips to help you do just that. 

1. Work out when to tell your clients

One of the hardest decisions in the experience of many freelancers who are approaching retirement is when to tell your clients about your retirement. Telling them on the day you plan to stop work is going to leave them without enough notice to find a replacement for you. However, telling them too early might mean that they take on a replacement before you reach retirement day, thus losing you income just when you need to make the most of every penny. 

The best plan is to consider each client and the volume of work that they rely on you to complete. That will give you an indication of when to let them know. For some clients, two weeks will be plenty of notice. For others, they might need a month or even longer to find a suitable replacement for you. 

If your clients don’t know each other then a staged approached like this can work well. Of course, if your clients are likely to come into contact with each other then you need to let them all know at roughly the same time, so that they hear the news from you directly rather than second-hand from someone else. In that case, opting for a notice period that suits both you and the majority or your clients is the best plan. 

2. Help your clients to replace you

One way that you can help to manage the timing of when your clients replace you is to assist them in the process. Finding a good quality replacement can ensure a smooth handover to your clients and is a great way to thank them for their valued business over the years. 

Finding a replacement can also lead to additional income for you as you retire. While most freelancers don’t have a company that they can sell, it is certainly possible to earn commission from the person who takes over your clients. After all, you have essentially handed him or her additional income streams and a commission payment based on earnings over the coming three, six or even 12 months would not be unusual in this situation. 

3. Be sure to mark the occasion

Another important element of retiring gracefully as a freelancer is to mark the occasion. Do something special to celebrate your transition from the world of work to the world of leisure. 

Not only is this fun, it is also an important psychological step. For many freelancers, working hours and leisure hours can tend to blur into one during busy periods, so don’t let that be the case with your retirement. Pick a retirement date and be sure to stick to it – you have worked hard to get to the point of retiring, so don’t spend the first day of the rest of your life still working! 

Final thoughts

What other hints and tips do you have for ensuring a graceful retirement as a freelancer? How much notice are you planning to give your clients? Share your thoughts via the comments.