You’ve been dreaming of this day since you were a kid. Your period is late, you’re exhausted, and you smell apple juice everywhere. You go out and buy a pregnancy test. Honestly, you bought the test just for fun. Your period is probably going to appear later today or tomorrow. But hey, you may as well waste some money, right?
Two pink lines appear. As it turns out, the test wasn’t a waste of money, after all.
How under the sun are you going to manage maternity leave as a freelancer?
The next few things you think about are the baby’s gender, when to tell people, which hospital you want to give birth in, and your maternity leave.
How under the sun are you going to manage maternity leave as a freelancer? If you don’t work for a few months, you’ll lose all your clients, and have to start from scratch.
Great. Just great.
The good thing is, you have nine months to start preparing for this.
Make Sure You Have the Right Insurance
Do you have any insurance? For maternity leave, you’ll want to make sure that you’re completely covered.
Check that your insurance plan covers:
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- Coverage for your baby
- Disability insurance
- And, by the way – liability insurance. But maybe you already knew that.
You’ll want to make sure that you have some way of taking at least a month off, without losing your paycheck.
I know what you’re thinking: “But wait, Chana. Even if I get paid by the insurance, my clients are still going to be mad.”
You’re right. But one step at a time.
Check Whether You’re Eligible for Any Government Benefits
Here in Israel, freelancers are considered independent. That means that, once you’re registered, in addition to taxes, you need to pay National Insurance Institute premiums. It also means that you get 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (with conditions, of course).
There are other countries with similar laws. In any country, or state, where maternity leave is mandatory, there will be a law to help you out. Look it up. (If you don’t see the word “freelancer” listed, try looking for “independent contractor”.)
Start eliminating extra expenses now. You want to save every penny, not just for pregnancy- and baby-related expenses, but for those weeks when you’ll be working, but on a limited scale.
Also remember that freelancing with a baby is hard, and you may want to hire a high-schooler to play with your baby for a few hours while you work.
Prepare In Advance
If you have a steady client, this is easy. You know what kind of content your client wants, so start thinking of post ideas now.
Just to be safe, though, when you’re about six months along, ask your client what topics he’s looking to cover in the next few months. Prepare at least two weeks’ worth of posts – and the more, the better. If you can, aim for six weeks of pre-scheduled, pre-made posts.
If you don’t have any steady clients, now is the time to find them. You won’t have time to find new leads and send pitches after the birth, and you certainly don’t want to be negotiating on four hours of sleep, afterpains, and hormones.
If finding new clients isn’t a viable option for you right now, or it’s not working, consider whether it may be wise for your spouse to start working more hours. Remember, though, that if you don’t live near family, this may not be a realistic option for you.
Also set an automatic “vacation” response on your email account, so that your clients know to hang in there if you don’t answer immediately.
Let Your Clients Know
Okay, don’t do this too far in advance. Besides for the fact that 25% of pregnancies don’t result in a baby, you don’t want to leave your clients wondering whether you’re worth keeping for so long.
About two month before your due date, tell your clients (the one’s you want to keep) when you’re due. Let them know that they’ll still have their posts, but that you won’t be answering non-urgent emails for a week or two.
When you’re about six or seven months along, start thinking about scaling back. If you’re not happy with a particular client, consider dumping him just before your due date (and don’t mention your pregnancy to him or her).
Don’t take on new clients, unless they are offering your absolute dream job.
And, psst? Teach your significant other how to answer your emails, upload your posts, and do any non-writing task possible.
Your clients are hiring you to write (or maybe edit) for them. But every other task can be outsourced to a friend. Your mother might be a good idea, too – but only if you can rely on her 10,000% to respect confidentiality.
Lower Your Expectations
Freelancing with a baby is hard. Going back to work a month, or even six weeks, after having a baby is hard.
Ask a family member to help out. Maybe they can clean your house or cook. Maybe they can watch the baby. And if no one can help – just ignore the mess. You’ll deal with it when you feel better.
Check your email every day. Don’t answer anything that’s not urgent, but do take a peek. You’ll need to do some work, even in the first few weeks. But the less you do, the better off you are.
With proper planning and preparation, you can give yourself some time to recover without compromising your business. Do you have any ideas for taking maternity leave without losing clients? Share them in the comments!