I’m off on a jet plane in about four weeks, which is terribly exciting and it’s all systems go at my place. I’m taking my Mum and my kids to London for a girls-only holiday, and then we’re heading to Ireland where my lovely bloke and I are finally getting hitched. He and I are then popping over to Paris (as you do) for our honeymoon.
Under no circumstances am I complaining about any of this. I am a hugely lucky woman and so excited that I have to currently suppress the urge to jump out of my seat and squeal (I’m writing in a café so any unanticipated leaping might frighten my fellow caffeine freaks too much. They’re already pretty jumpy). My only grumble, definitely minor, is the problem that comes with freelancing and taking holidays. It’s very hard to convince my clients that I’ll be unavailable for that time.
We’ve been planning this trip for a year so it’s hardly a surprise, and I’ve done my best to encourage my clients to understand that I’ll be unavailable for a month. I teach at various institutions around Australia and they were all told in February, when the educational year was being planned. All my video clients have been told, and our production schedules have been worked out months ago in order to allow for my absence. I’ve pushed writing deadlines around, deliberately submitting expected articles weeks in advance so I’m not letting my editors down.
And yet, the explaining continues. I have a long-term client that has experienced some staff shuffles in the past few months, and the new assistant contacted me to teach a workshop during the time I was away. I told her the situation, and gave her my alternative available dates before and after the trip. I was then CC’ed into an email (by accident, I hope) that she sent around to the powers that be, suggesting that perhaps someone be found to replace me since I wasn’t available.
I panicked. I know we’re all replaceable, but it’s best not to let the client realise. I was also quite upset – I’ve worked with this client for years, and I had hoped there was some love there. I mean, I know this is business but really, we want to believe that our long-term clients love us even just a little bit.
I was right in the middle of working up a very serious sulk when a flurry of emails arrived suggesting that replacing me was out of the question, and one from the big boss saying that I was to be accommodated at all costs. Fabulous. I calmed myself down, and waited. My dates were accepted. Thanks for the pat on the back, but it took a while for the panic to subside.
I have another client, for video production, who likes to ask for bits and pieces here and there. He contacts me every other month, asking for some small things, and then I don’t hear from him for ages. I told him a while ago when I would be unavailable, and suggested he get his bits and pieces to me beforehand, but I heard nothing. I’m now wondering if I’ll be getting a frantic phone call on the days before we leave. Seems if it’s not me having a panic, it’s them!
I sometimes send emails to people and get a chirpy automated reply – “I am on leave until the so-and-so of the month. Please get back to me then or contact my colleague Joe Blow on firstname.lastname@example.org to help you out”. If only. I would love to be able to do this, but we all know the reality of the situation. Despite the fact that this is my wedding trip, I will be taking my laptop. My accommodation has wireless access. I will be checking my emails every day. I will be putting out fires from the other side of the world. Such is the freelance life.
Enough whining. It’s only a month, after all. Remind me to tell myself to shut up, I won’t go out of business if I’m not available for a month…. will I?
Until next time, happy freelancing.
Freelancing for Australian (for Dummies) is available in bookstores and via the Freelance Success website right now – visit https://www.creativeplusbusiness.com/books for more information.