I don’t know about you, but when I took the leap to full-time freelance, one thing I was most looking forward to was having a flexible schedule and unlimited vacation. No more needing to count my vacation days or compromise my time off to “save” some more of those days for later in the year.
(In fact, even now, I’m cringing just thinking about all of that…)
Now, as a full-time solopreneur, I have the freedom to be a digital nomad and work from wherever I am. That said, it’s both a blessing and a curse when all you need is a laptop and reliable wifi to work. Because sometimes, even when we love our work, we still want to disconnect and take an honest vacation.
The key to being able to fully disconnect when you’re a one woman shop? Preparation. In this post, I’m going to share the steps I took to prepare my business for my absence as I embarked upon my first vacation as a full-time freelancer this summer.
1. Clients & Projects
I had many ongoing projects on deck, and communicated with each of my clients about my vacation and the fact that I would be entirely unreachable. I started doing this about two weeks ahead of time, but especially the week before. I told them we could finish beforehand if they didn’t want to wait, but many opted to just pause the project while I was gone. This worked better for both of us, because it didn’t cause us to rush their project.
On one larger project that started a month before, I made sure to tell them in our initial conversation that we would need to wrap up by a certain date.
I have just a few clients that I do monthly projects for -- blog post images, social media scheduling, etc. Knowing that they usually send me content during the time of the month that I would be on vacation, I contacted them ahead of time and informed them. Where I could, I worked ahead.
Pro tip: I use Wave for invoicing, which allows for recurring invoices. I don’t have to remember to send those monthly clients an invoice, which saved me a task before vacation!
2. Don’t Go Completely Dark
Although you will be disconnected, you don’t have to go dark online. Set up a simple auto responder in your inbox, so that those who email you won’t think you’re just ignoring them. If you plan to check in while you’re away, note the terms of that. (Ex: If you’re available for emergency situations, tell clients to put “Urgent” in the subject line.) For leads that might not visit your inbox and will only see your website, consider editing your contact page with a note that you’re out of town.
Your social channels don’t need to be neglected, either. Schedule out some social media posts, even if it’s less often than usual. Of course, a big part of social media is actually being social, and interacting with your audience. So, how do you handle that, if you’re disconnected? Well, that leads to me to Step 3…
Pro tip: I use Edgar to schedule most of my social media posts, so it constantly recycles evergreen content. Saved me another task before vacation, because it’s always running!
3. Work with a VA
When I think about virtual assistants, I think about long-term projects, like scheduling social media every week. But, just like people can hire me (a designer) for one-off projects, you can hire a VA to monitor your inbox while you’re away. That’s exactly what I did. I prepped a VA (in my case, Jordan of Practically Magic VA) to “watch” my inbox for any critical emails.
You could also have your VA watch your social media channels. I didn’t do that this time around, but I most certainly will next time. I had scheduled social media posts for the few days I was going to be gone. What I didn’t realize is that one link I tweeted was broken (the person’s site was 100% down), and someone replied to my tweet to tell me it wasn’t going anywhere. The tweet went unanswered for two days -- not good!
Pro tip: I didn’t just tell my VA to copy and paste my auto responder message to any new contact form submissions. I drafted a more detailed response, and sent her my welcome package that she could send along with it to new inquiries.
Now… take that vacation!
It takes a little prep work, and a lot of communication with your clients, to get your biz in a good place while the CEO takes some vacation -- but when you can fully disconnect without worrying about what’s going on in your biz, it’s entirely worth it.
Tell me, One Woman Shops, what else do you do to prepare for vacation?