I’m one of those people who finds it hard to rest. I’m much more comfortable being busy and juggling multiple tasks. When I have downtime, I find myself becoming bored easily. However, I know breaks, and a vacation, are crucial to avoid burnout.
As an Oakland, CA, freelance content writer and ghostwriter, I’m a one-woman show. I don’t have a boss or any employees to pick up the slack if I’m out of the office. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. All of that makes it much more challenging for me to take a proper vacation. Sure I can goof off here and there for a few hours, but taking a few days off? Or a week? Is it even possible?
When I consulted the great Oracle (aka, Google), I learned there are several methods solopreneurs use to take vacations. Some people use the method I’ve been employing, which is goof off for a few hours but still work every day. Instead of working from home though, they’ll work from the beach or their parents’ house. For true vacations? That takes preparation. Read below for five tips on how to take a vacation as a solopreneur.
1.) Tell your clients about your vacation plans
To unplug completely, you have to let your clients know you’ll be unavailable. If you take off and become AWOL, that’s the fast track to losing your clients. Let them know in advance when you’ll be out of town so they are prepared. If you can, submit your work to them early so it’s finished before you become incommunicado. This works for some clients but not others.
In addition to working as a freelance content writer and ghostwriter, I also work as a freelance journalist (yes, I wear many hats). For certain journalism gigs, I can’t get all my work done early because sometimes I’m required to write day-of news pieces. If I’m not around, I obviously can’t write those articles, and instead I miss out on that income. What to do about that? Read on.
2.) Create a vacation fund
At this point I’ve accepted the fact that sometimes going on vacation means I will lose money (certain journalism gigs are a case in point). However, I know vacations are crucial for my mental health so the best thing I can do to take care of my present and future selves is create a vacation fund. Even if it’s only a little bit every month, setting aside money in the bank specifically for vacations eases some of my stress because I remind myself, “You saved for this. That’s what this money is for.”
Also the reality is I’m worth more than money. I know that can be hard to embrace when money is tight and bills are overdue, but it’s true. At the end of the day, I, you, we, are priceless and taking a vacation is one of the ways we demonstrate that to ourselves. We matter and our mental health matters. Vacations are a great way to rejuvenate, even when it means losing income because once we come back, we are refreshed and ready to work. (And maybe we’ll land new clients because we have more energy to put into hustling!)
3.) Keep your “head” in the clouds
You can perhaps guess what I’m getting at here with my attempt at a play on words. Don’t keep your head in the clouds because footwork is required for dreams to come true, but do keep almost everything else in the cloud. Use Google Drive, Dropbox, icloud, whatever, to store templates, instructions regarding clients, contracts, that sort of thing. That way in case you go “full on vacation mode” and leave your laptop at home, you’ll still be able to access important documents via your phone or tablet — just in case of emergencies.
Hopefully one of your clients won’t ring you in a panic asking for something, but just in case, you want to be prepared. Part of the reason people hire small businesses (include sole proprietors) is the personal touch. Being able to talk on the phone to a real person should problems arise is crucial, and that means while on vacation too!
4.) Automate what you can
I just mentioned it’s important to remain accessible for crisis situations, but at the same time, automate what you can. Maybe that means running a vacation responder on your email. Perhaps it’s signing up with a system that will automate your invoices so you don’t have to think about them. Maybe “automation” really means using a virtual assistant.
A virtual assistant is a person who can post to social media on your behalf, read through your email and flag any important messages, as well as answer calls for you. If you want someone to keep an eye on your business while you’re out of the office, a virtual assistant is a great way to go.
5.) Ask for help
Last but not least, you can also ask for help from someone you trust. In my case, asking for help would mean contacting another content writer or ghostwriter and asking them to cover for me by writing blogposts that I can’t write in advance. The advantage of asking for help is you still receive some money (I’m fair-minded and that means paying people for their work), and your business doesn’t have to shut down while you’re on vacation. However, asking for help in this situation is risky because the person must be someone you trust. Will they write as well as you? Will they try to steal your clients? All fair questions.
What about you? Do you have any tips for going on vacation as a solopreneur? Tell me in the comments below.