Join 100 Readers

Can You Afford to Get Sick?

by Laura Spencer

on June 6, 2013

in Freelancing Basics Freelancing Life

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

You know what today is, right?

It’s the day of the big deadline for your new client. You’ll get up at the crack of dawn and work straight through lunch. You should just be able to make it…except…

Except, you glance over at your alarm clock and notice that it’s already 9:00 a.m. You’ve slept in. You leap out of bed, or try to anyway. Except you just about double over when a wave of nausea hits you.

That’s right. It’s a freelancer’s worst-case scenario. You’ve got a huge client deadline and you’re sick–right when you can least afford it.

Illness is one of the many factors that new freelancers often don’t take into consideration. In this post, we’ll be discussing some safeguards against illness that you can put in place to protect your freelancing business.

Why Getting Sick Is Such a Big Deal for Freelancers

Getting sick is a huge deal for freelancers, don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t.

The main reason for that is that for a freelancer, there is no such thing as a paid sick day. If you don’t work and complete your project, you don’t get paid. Period. End of story.

With the wrong type of luck, a poorly timed illness can cause a freelancer to miss a deadline and lose a client. No matter how healthy you are, sooner or later, you’re bound to get sick when you least expect it.

Many freelancers try to work through an illness, plodding right along even though they feel awful. This isn’t a good solution, though. You’re not very likely to do your best work when you feel bad.

Fortunately, you can take some steps to minimize the damage that an unexpected illness can cause.

Safeguard Your Freelance Business Against Illness

So, if you woke up sick, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to lie back in bed and get some rest without having to worry about your freelance projects?

While illness can’t be prevented entirely, you can put the following best practices in place to help safeguard your freelancing business:

  1. Live healthy. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good way of reducing the number of times you get sick. Eat a balanced diet. Get enough exercise. Go to bed in time to get a good night’s rest. Avoid stress. If you adopt healthy habits, you won’t get sick as often and when you do get sick, you’ll recover sooner.
  2. Work ahead. Procrastination can lead to disaster if something unexpected happens. The easy way to keep sickness or emergencies from derailing your projects is to make sure that you are always a day or two ahead of schedule. That cushion of a day or two can become your “sick days” when you need to take a day off.
  3. Save money. It’s always a good idea to put part of your earnings aside to cover the unexpected. Sickness is one of those reasons that all freelancers need a healthy emergency fund. It’s bad enough being sick. You don’t have to be broke too. (Don’t dip into your emergency fund unless you really need to, though.)
  4. Use friends. Do you have friends and colleagues in the same field who you trust? In a crisis, a trusted friend or colleague can help you meet a project deadline. Of course, you’d do the same for them in similar circumstances. Many successful freelancers set up reciprocal agreements in case of emergency.
  5. Get an extension. If you are typically trustworthy and have a good history with your cient, you should be able to let him or her know what’s happening. In most cases, a client will be willing to grant you a one-time extension to the project deadline. Of course, if you have frequent “emergencies,” the client will probably be less accommodating.

If you follow several of these tips, getting sick should be less of a financial strain.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to keep the client in the loop. Don’t just ignore a deadline because you’re sick without talking to the client first.

Your Turn

What tips do you have for handling illness? How have you dealt with illness in your freelancing business?

Share your answers in the comments.

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.