No one can tell the future, but sometimes we can make some educated guesses. For example, it doesn’t take a psychic to know that it’s likely that you’ll get a touch sick at some point this winter. But getting sick may mean not working, and not working may mean missing deadlines — and that’s a problem. Here’s what you can do to prepare….
Today’s question comes from Sandra L., who asks, “Historically, I usually get one big, knock-me-on-my back cold each winter. I’m a little nervous about this year though since I’m 100% freelance and I obviously don’t want to miss deadlines. Do you have any advice?”
If you know you have a chance of getting sick — or, in other words, if you’re human — you need to prepare for the unprepared. Plan for the unplannable.
The best line of defense to prepare yourself for unexpected problems and disaster-proof your business is to stay on top of your workload. You’re not going to like it, but I’ll say it anyway: You can’t procrastinate.
When you have large projects, you need to chunk it out and make progress on it every day. Or, as close to every day as you can. Chunking out the work gets it done, but it also accounts for when emergencies, or even just other priorities, pop up.
If you’re working on your big project consistently every day, it’s likely that you can afford to take a day off or two to recover from a cold without jeopardizing your deadline or forcing yourself to pull all-nighters.
As you know, your deadlines are sacred. You can’t miss them. Staying on top of your workload (instead of risking doing it all at once) is your insurance policy against unexpected disasters.
Now, if disaster does strike, could you ask your client for an extension? The answer to that is: Maybe. If you have a long history with your client, they know and trust you, and you can deliver the project a bit late without it affecting any of their timelines, you might be able to ask for an extension.
But I wouldn’t recommend it. Or, if you do, you can only ask for an extension once. Trust is a big part of the working relationship, and if you don’t deliver on deadline, people can’t trust you. Your business won’t survive long if your clients can’t trust you.
In the event of an absolutely catastrophic illness or emergency, it’s important that you also have a copywriting colleague that you trust and respect that you can refer clients to if need be.
It’s a last resort, of course, but it’s infinitely better to call up a client and say something like, “I’ve had an emergency, but I’ve briefed another copywriter on the project and gotten her up to speed. She’s ready to jump into the project right now and can deliver the copy by the deadline” than to say, “I’ve had an emergency and now I have to leave you in the lurch.”
When things truly go south, you need to have a colleague you can pass a project to without having to worry about it so you can focus on your emergency.
The key to flu-proofing and disaster-proofing your copywriting business is preparedness. And when’s the best time to start preparing?
Your turn! What will you do to flu- or disaster-proof your business? Let us know in the comments below!