Sunday, February 28, 2010

Freelancing and Unplanned Sabbatical - 3 Lessons to Learn by Samar Owais

Taking a planned or unplanned sabbatical brings forward a few unexpected lessons to learn from. In my case, it was an unplanned sabbatical that taught me a few things that everyone should keep in mind.

I decided to take a long break when I found out I was pregnant. I worked through the first trimester, after which I closed shop and went on a long vacation with every intention of coming back and picking up where I left off.

Fast forward 7 weeks of vacation and I came back with a completely different mindset. I didn't want to go back to work just yet and because I had referred other freelancers to my clients, there was no one waiting for me to get back. I had no motivation to start work again.

While I eventually went back to freelancing (there's only so long a freelancer can stay away from doing what she loves), I realized a few important things about the business of freelancing.

It is all about the quality of your work

Clients don't care who you are or what you're doing as long as you turn in the work on time. You could be a female working under a male pseudonym fooling the entire world and yet your clients won't bash an eyelid and will likely say "So what?" when they find out.

As long as the work is stellar and the bottom line is met, you could be Winnie the Pooh. And when you do come back after a break, most of them will be happy to hire you again.

What works for them might not work for you

Every freelancer handles sabbaticals differently. Some can't wait to come back and pick up where they left off while some extend their time off to figure out future direction of their business.

Whatever your decision, remember, what worked for one freelancer might not work for you; financially or creatively.

Even a closed business costs money

A sabbatical means that you plan on coming back at some point. You haven't disappeared completely from the freelancing world. Your website will still be up, if you have a blog that'll be open too. Another thing that you'll need to keep is your business email even though all it might be doing is sending back auto-responders telling anyone who emails that you're on a break.

All of these cost money to maintain even if they aren't updated.

Just the 'not disappearing' part will cost you money. The upkeep of a blog, hosting etc may not cost much, but when your PayPal or bank account isn't going Ka-ching(!) after every completed job, it starts to pinch.

Samar Owais is a freelance writer and blogger. She can be found blogging about the freelancing life at