I went into December with a deliberately light load of work, thinking that I would have time to edit our 17-year old's college application essays, prepare my year-end financials and get ready for Christmas and New Year's break. Boy, was I wrong. The holiday jobs have been rolling in. Last week alone, I received four assignments for a brand new client and three more from one of my existing clients -- nearly three weeks of work.
For a solo artist like myself, holiday jobs are a welcome opportunity to line up cash flow for 2011, and reassurance that my business has a solid base of support. The extra work may even encourage me to spend a bit more on presents for my family than I would have otherwise.
The downside, of course, is that my house is a mess and I'm nowhere near ready for the week of school vacation that is looming on Dec. 24. As for the taxes and financials? I did the bare minimum needed to close out the year, but there is a lot of paperwork waiting for January. Fortunately, all the college essays were completed two weeks ago, so I got in the necessary editing before my holiday jobs started piling up. (And I do mean editing -- she did all the composing and writing herself. We take even the whiff of plagiarism very seriously in this household.)
In trying to figure out why the holidays seem to be a busy time for my clients, my working hypothesis is that other freelance writers -- perhaps wiser than I -- make themselves scarce to enjoy family time in late December. The new client seemed to have someone back out at the last minute, and I was happy to step into the vacant spot for some easy, interesting and reasonably lucrative writing assignments. A secondary theme seems to be that editors want to lock in writers early to do the work, perhaps so that their own holidays aren't disrupted by looking for someone reliable to complete pending projects.
Cleary, the phenomenon is hardly universal. Some businesses seem to shut down by the third week in December, barely answering the phone, much less lining up new projects. If you're an entrepreneur or self-employed business person like myself, what has your experience been with holiday jobs? A surprise bonanza of work, or a dry spell that gives you an excuse for family time?
Photo by Shiny Things via Flickr