You’ve booked the flight, you know your travel dates, you’ve informed your clients. You run your own freelance business and want to take a much-needed break, however you also want to return to a jam-packed schedule of exciting projects, clients and leads, right?

While office workers might be focused on gift shopping and end-of-year parties, as a freelancer now is the best time to put the steps in place to protect your solo business for the year ahead, ensuring you can relax with family and knowing your business will be in good shape when you return in January.

Businesses are often also preparing to finalise budgets, close off projects quickly, or get things started for the new year – so it’s a great opportunity to grow your clients and lock in new projects.

We’ve shared previously on how to take a vacation as a freelancer. Now take these steps to be vacation proof, making sure you have enough work available when you get back to your desk.

1) Lock in current clients for 2018

First, a good place to start is with your roster of clients and current agreements. Is everything in place for the new year, does a new contract or agreement need to be set in place? Does a relationship need to be reviewed, ended, or considered for up-selling to a larger package? Are all invoices up-to-date? It’s also a good time to review your current packages and prices, you might be due for a price increase. If they want to continue working with you in 2018, they will need to get moving now to lock you in.

2) Email past clients and see if you can help (again)

Those past clients who left you a fantastic testimonial, now it’s time to get back in touch with them. Check in and see if there’s anything you can do to help, be it step in for a staff member on leave, or help close off a project still hanging around. Or maybe you can start preparing a 2018 project for them. Remember, your clients are business people and are probably hectic right now. Provide them with a service and solution.

3) Create a (limited time) discount or offer

Another way to incentivize current, and potential clients, is to create an offer they provides security for the new year. Offer a discount to any clients who pays upfront for 2018 – and are therefore prioritized in your schedule for the new year. Increase the offer if they will pre-pay before a set date. This way your client feels well-taken care of and you feel more financially stable for the new year.

4) Source and contact potential leads

Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential leads and opportunities on CloudPeeps, LinkedIn, AngelList, Remotive, Slack communities, and more. Pick a niche (such as health or wellbeing businesses), develop a list, and follow these companies. Then when you see they’re hiring, you might have an opportunity to step in and offer your services while they move through the hiring process, or potentially you can sell yourself to be the one they hire (as a contractor). As it’s the end of year, some businesses may also have leftover money available in their budgets for last minute work, so keep this in mind when pitching.

5) Launch an online product

As business slows down and projects end, make good use of your time and create an online product for your business. Create an email course or set up a monthly newsletter (if you’ve not already). Create downloadable checklists or start writing that e-book you’ve been talking about doing all year. If you have more time available, then you may want to create a short video course of a particular service you offer. Skillshare and Teachable are just some of the platforms to get started on.

Not only is it a good way to promote your business long-term, it also helps grow your email database – a list of potential leads, opportunities, supporters and more for the new year, a resource that could potentially convert clients for you beyond the holidays.

6) Get (super) organized

You might already be happy with your current processes, however most freelancers often have an area that could be improved. It could be a new leads funnel, or a better on-boarding client form, or improved way overall to manage your clients more professionally. You may even want to hire a fellow freelancer expert to review, audit or assist you with this.

Whether you get this started before taking a break, or plan to crush this holiday season instead; now is the time to improve or fix any broken processes, revamp your online presence, and tighten up your business for the new year. 

7) Work on personal growth

While you’re finishing up projects, it’s a good time to up-skill and rethink your current areas of services. Is there a short online course you could do? Are there any workshops in your area to sign up to? You could potentially offer a more specialised package, or create a new niche for yourself, setting yourself up for more opportunities and greater success in the new year.

8) Plan your 2018 schedule 

Before everyone tunes out for a few weeks, use this time to plan your 2018 schedule. Make it easier for clients to book you. Think about seasonal holidays, personal vacation time, meetups or conferences you want to attend, family events and more. Lock down your schedule for the new year and update your booking platform or calendar.

Forget wasting time on such admin in early 2018. Get super organized here now and focus on doing great work to grow your business instead!

These are just a few things you could start right now to get organized and grow your business, ultimately giving you peace of mind during the holidays and festive season. The hustle now will reap rewards in the new year. By putting the right planning in place before you leave, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy quality time with family and friends – not worrying about your business instead.

CloudPeeps is a member-driven tribe of trusted and talented indie professionals. If you’re looking for more freelance leads – join the community to discover new clients and manage your business.