The Inner Editor: December Is the Cruellest — and Shortest — Month
The little knot forming in your chest isn’t a reaction to the cold weather. It’s the freelance editor’s anxiety kicking in right on schedule, just before the holidays.
When projects disappear in other months, the freelance editor adjusts her schedule and cash flow projections and stoically reminds herself that this month’s famine may well be next month’s feast. She turns to sharpening her pencils and organizing her style guide collection, adjusts various thermostats as needed and picks up the phone to connect with clients.
When paid work disappears suddenly in December, we feel a different sort of pinch. A Grinch sort. Holidays filled with good cheer are overshadowed by non-billable hours and the pressure to spend money we are no longer earning. Any holiday will do, but December offers unique pressures that also drain our inner reserves.
To add to the financial pressure, it’s hard to feel festive when everyone else at the Christmas party seems to have lots of work to talk about.
With these December blues in mind, I offer the following gift basket for those of us who need a break from the daily hustle that freelancing demands of us. Keep these in mind when you’re planning for the same lull next year!
For your own business: Change the focus of your hustle
Offer seasonal services that are paid and delivered before Christmas:
- team up with a local printer to write, edit and format Christmas letters
- submit a “How to write a great Christmas letter/Facebook post” piece to a local charity; include a promotional offer for a quick edit of readers’ Christmas letters in exchange for donations to a local charity
Offer gift certificates for services that are prepaid in December but delivered after Christmas:
- academic editing for grad students
- resumé and cover letter editing for future job hunters
- services to produce photo gift books for special events in the year ahead: weddings, graduations, anniversaries
- interviewing, coaching and editing services to help grandparents write a family heritage book
Give your business a gift. Get busy creating work tools for the year ahead:
- templates for building proposals, making estimates and summarizing projects
- new editing tools and shortcuts
For your clients: Adjust your practices
- Set a strict down payment policy for December projects. Delay if you must, but at least the money is in your pocket.
- Call to ask your clients how they deal with business cycles, including the work gap we all experience as the year turns. Ask if they have small projects for you to tackle during the quiet hours between Christmas and New Year’s.
- Offer seasonal services at a reasonable rate: a December guest blog for a client’s website, for example.
- Ask corporate clients to donate the “cost” of providing your editing services to a local charity for the coming year.
For your colleagues: Exchange gifts
Find out who else is suddenly without work. Have a gift exchange:
- Write guest blogs and exchange links.
- Research small business funding opportunities for the coming year.
- Exchange hours to develop new skills: your marketing ideas for their Acrobat expertise.
Finally, unplanned time off is a gift we can all use. Slow down and open up to the reasons you live and the people you love. Enjoy the December pause!
Previous post from Virginia Durksen: Introvert, Know Thyself.
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