Everywhere I look, people are talking about Christmas, the holiday season and wrapping up their work. I have to admit a part of me is envious because I'm nowhere near wrapping up. My schedule is still full and I'm still chasing deadlines. I'm probably going to work until the last week of Christmas, when most companies in South Africa will be shutting down for the festive season, unless they are retail, hospitality or have a damn good reason to be open.
Not that I'm complaining. A lot of freelancers talk about December/January as slow months and that never fails to scare me because that's when you need a lot of money to enjoy summer, celebrate Christmas and New Year with friends and generally take a vacation. So I push hard as early as September to make sure that I'm fully booked for the period. How do I do that?
1. Look for end of financial year business - for some client, December is the end of the financial year. So it's a good time to remind them around September or so that oustanding projects that need to paid for within that year's budget need to start as soon as possible.
2. Fit in with clients' new year resolutions/plans - Nearer the end of the year, business owners also make plans to market themselves more effectively. Some may decide to spruce up their web sites/brochures or use social media more effectively. Nail down the business as soon as possible, with the promise that they can have all the summer fun they want knowing that they'll come back to a new web site/ brochure/catalogue to approve before it goes out to clients.
3. Find long-term projects- It's nice to have long-term projects at this time of the year. The festive season gives you the opportunity to push the work forward, or catch up with milestones if you were a bit behind.
4. Do your own projects - Maybe you wanted to refresh your marketing material/develop a new web site or blog? Or maybe you have a book/short story that you've been wanting to write but client work has been taking up most of your time? The festive season is a good time to start on that project.
5. Look for international business - Just because South African businesses take a break over the December/January period does not mean everyone does. Most international companies, whether big or small, remain operational throughout this period. So for them, it's business as usual and if you hook up with them, you should remain as busy as ever.