LiveCareer Blog

How to Survive the Holidays as a Freelancer

The holiday season and the end of the year can be a challenging chapter for freelancers and independent contractors. If you fall into this category, here are a few strategies that can help you survive.

The holidays can be a harrowing time for anyone. We’re all familiar with the social stresses, high- pressure event planning, lonely moments, and workplace drama (it’s review season after all), that accompany the last few months of the year. But freelancers are in a unique position, and as it happens, gig economy employees and independent contractors often find themselves in the crosshairs of all of these problems at the same time.

Freelancers may need to miss social gatherings to attend to work during non-business hours, and are often trying to line up enough work—or any work—for the year ahead. While their clients leave for holiday vacations, freelancers rush to finish jobs on corresponding deadlines (without regard for their own vacation time). If you’re a proud representative of the gig economy, here are a few tips that can help you face the holidays without missing a beat.

Expect a slight slowdown.

Most freelancers who work for large companies as contractors and subcontractors can expect a work slowdown between December and February. Almost all projects that require freelance input (from design, to project management, to accounting) go through a lull as corporate clients and their own customers turn their attention away from work-related matters. When this slowdown happens, be ready. Have a financial plan in mind so you can spread out your yearly income to cover a few quiet months, and have an action plan in mind so you aren’t left spinning your wheels.

Keep your contacts close.

The holiday season offers plenty of opportunities to build and strengthen your network. While you’re searching for new jobs, stay in circulation socially. Attend events, reach out to old friends, and send friendly seasonal messages to current and former clients. Connect with old friends, meet new ones, and don’t hide at home in the glow of your screen.

Make changes to your business model.

If you intend to change your rates, change your methods, or adjust your business model (offering new services or phasing out old ones), take care of this now. Most of your clients will be working on budgets and needs assessments for the following year, so this may be a perfect time to draw their attention to changes that may affect them.

Manage your time wisely.

While the holidays can mean a slowdown for freelancers, they can also present the opposite: a rush of work with tight, holiday-related deadlines. These deadlines can be hard to meet while also navigating social obligations and holiday travel. Be ready to handle some tricky planning, and if it helps, let your clients know as much about your circumstances as you can. For example, tell them when you’ll be going out of town, even if you intend to take your work with you.

Maintain a regular routine.

Waking up and starting work early can be hard during the cold, dark winter months, and while steady office employees have alarm clocks and watchful bosses to keep them on track, freelancers need to handle their schedules on their own. Exercise your self-discipline… and get some exercise. Don’t slide into a state of hibernation like a bear. Stay busy, and you’ll thank yourself for your happy clients, strong relationships, healthy body, and full work schedule when spring rolls around.

For more on how to stay focused and on track throughout the winter no matter what your work schedule looks like, explore the tools and resources on LiveCareer.