When you become a freelance writer, you need to give up certain benefits – a regular salary, paid vacations, human contact – but, calling in sick as a freelance writer is not a lost perk.
When you’re an employee, it’s easy peasy to call in sick. In fact, you don’t even have to call – you just send an SMS to your boss and dive back underneath your blanket.
I’ve worked as both a freelancer and an employee, and I can say, without doubt, that when I have clients who are depending on my work, it feels more difficult to call in sick.
I worry that clients will think I’m making up an excuse. That’s because there’s less visibility when you work for yourself. You don’t want your client to think you’re faking it to get an extended deadline because you’ve been procrastinating.
Best-practice calling in sick tips for writers
I asked some freelance friends about how to manage sickness with the demands of freelance work.
Some writers said they press on if it’s only a minor illness they’re battling.
Others reckon soldiering on just produces bad results, particularly if they’re not thinking straight.
The key is letting the client know as soon as you feel like you can’t meet their deadline. And, you know what? Clients understand!
As one writer friend says: “You recover much faster when you give yourself time to recover.”
My ‘how to call in sick as a freelance writer’ checklist
Here’s what I’ve learned about how to call in sick as a freelance writer.
Look at your calendar, work out if there are any jobs you think you can do in between resting, and reschedule all other work.
That might have a knock-on effect for work you have booked in the coming weeks, so be sure to plan far enough into the future.
Reprioritising also includes work you might do for yourself, like blogging and social media – often, these are the first things to go when you get sick because they’re the easiest to sweep under the rug.
Don’t feel guilty about putting them off for a few days or even a week. If you have scheduled a time to do the work, then the work will get done eventually. The world won’t end because you missed writing last week’s blog post.
Once you have your schedule sorted, contact all of your clients.
Now’s the time to call in sick to all your clients – and, don’t feel bad about saying the words, “I am sick.”
Phoning can be a nicer, more personal way to approach your clients than email if you’re worried about possible negative reactions.
But, remember – as a self-employed business owner, you don’t need anyone’s permission to take your own “sick leave”. If your client isn’t willing to extend their deadline, perhaps they’re being a little too unreasonable.
You might need to go back to your calendar and re-prioritise again, based on new deadlines.
Reforecast your budget
Taking a few sick days might wreak havoc with your income if you haven’t allowed for enough money to cover unplanned sick days. You can avoid this by planning carefully in the future – use it as a learning experience.
Other points to remember about calling in sick
- If you aren’t up to checking emails, set your out of office so any new clients know there might be a delay in you coming back to them
- Try and switch off from work until you feel like you’ve recovered enough that you can mentally handle being “back at work”
- When you’re back on your feet again, think about ways you could plan for your next sick day (creating checklists, putting money aside etc) to ensure a stress-free recovery.
How do you call in sick as a freelance writer?