A freelance copywriter, master of their own schedule, should have no problem taking a vacation. And yet, it’s often freelancers often have the hardest time taking a break.
After all, you work so hard to get clients and to build up your workload—how can you walk away from that? When clients ask you if you’re available for work, your instant reaction is probably always going to be to say “Absolutely!”
The Importance of Taking Vacations as a Freelancer
As a freelancer, you have to take care of yourself in order to keep working at high capacity, and one of the best ways to take care of yourself is to take some time off. To unwind. To get away. And to not take calls from clients. You know, clients: those people who actually fund your ability to take some time off.
You can (and should!) practice self-care throughout your days and weeks to avoid burnout. But an afternoon off here and there, or a trip where you bring your laptop is not the same thing as having time to power off your computer and truly disconnect.
Without at least two weeks off per year, you’re setting yourself up for long-term burnout. This can lead to producing less-than-stellar work and even hampering your productivity. But if you build in time off, you’ll come back feeling recharged and able to produce your best work without dragging your feet.
Think of your vacation time as an investment in your business. Without it, your revenue can be severely impacted!
After all, what’s the point of freelancing if we can’t set our schedules the way we want?
3 Steps to Taking a Vacation as a Freelancer
1. Block Off Your Schedule
The only way to ensure you don’t burn bridges with clients and you get your much-needed break from work is to plan for it. Once you commit to a client project, you’re committed to it. So, for example, if you say “yes” to a project and forgot that it was over a week in July you wanted to take off, you’ll need to look at a new week.
Aim, at the least, to take a week off every six months or so. And, as soon as you decide when to take this time off, mark it on the calendar and block it off to avoid scheduling anything else during that time.
If you can, do this at the beginning of the year. That way, as clients start to book your services, you can pull up your calendar and let them know when you can start and complete projects. Then, check in each quarter with yourself to make sure your days and weeks off are still the days and weeks you want to do take.
2. Communicate With Your Clients
At the one month out mark, start letting your clients that you’ll be unavailable during that week. With this much notice, both you and they can plan to arrange project schedules to accommodate your week off. In the worse scenario, you could always shift your week a bit, but do you best to avoid this if possible—chances are, if you “shift” your week, you’ll end up skipping it.
If a client needs work taken care of even while you’re gone, work with one of your trusted copywriting colleagues to cover you during this time. Be sure, of course, that this is a copywriter whose work you respect and whose ethics you trust—you don’t want to come back to find your client poached, after all.
At the one-week-out mark, start sending out emails to all of your clients (even ones you’re not currently working with) and any recruiting contacts to let them know the dates during which you’ll be unavailable. That way, they won’t think you’re ignoring them if you don’t respond when they try to get in touch with you that week.
A Note on Out of Office Messages
Before you leave, set away messages for your email. However, remember that you’re also telling anyone who gets in contact with you that you’re not at home.
Keep your message simple:
Hi there! I am currently away from my computer and will return your message when I’m back online Thursday, July 15. Thank you!
Don’t overthink it or feel you have to explain where you are, justify your time off, or add in any more personality. You need to make sure your clients get the information they need, fast.
3. Plan for When You’re Back
A few days before you leave, start scheduling some meetings with clients a few days after you get back. This will help to avoid any extra, unwanted time off on your part and will show your client that they’re a top priority for you.
If you wait to get back to do this, it can lead to a longer-than-you-wanted vacation. As in, you may come back expecting to work, only to realize you don’t have anything to work on.
If you have projects you know you’ll wrap up after your vacation (versus before), prioritize your post-vacation schedule. This will ensure you can hit the ground running when you’re back versus dragging your feet on must-hit deadlines.
Working on Your Vacation?
At least a month out, start investigating your internet and Wi-Fi options wherever you’re going. Now, I’m not saying that you should be checking your email by any means, but you want to know where, when and how you can check it if you really feel you need to. I would recommend avoiding your email as much as possible to really help you relax, but I realize that’s not necessarily always very realistic.
Building Vacation in Your Freelance Rates
As a freelancer, we get to set our own rates. That means we shouldn’t be penalizing ourselves for taking time off. We should be building that time off into our freelancer rates.
Of course, we can’t say “I want to make six figures and work 1 day per year!” But we can say “I want to take at least 2 weeks off per year.” If you want to hit 6 figures with 2 weeks vacation, you can do that with rates that are $50/hour ($50 x 40 hours a week x 50 weeks a year).
Of course, you’ll want to figure out your hourly rate based on your level of experience and where you’re located (US rates are different than UK!), among other factors. But as you figure out your rate, you can calculate it with your weeks of vacation in mind. That way, when you’re building your project quote, you can use your hourly rate with your vacation time factored in.
Now all that’s left is to enjoy your vacation—and begin planning your next!
On episode 122 of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate dig further into the three steps you need to take to enjoy your time off, including the mindset shift you need to make. If you don’t have a vacation block currently on your calendar, watch now and start taking the steps you need to ensure your train does’t pull into burnout station.
Have you been able to take vacations? How have you fared? What are some of the tactics you used to ensure work stayed on schedule? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on September 23, 2023