This time of year brings with it much excitement, but unfortunately, due to a drop in the temperature, it also delivers a nice wide range of bugs and viruses. Whether you have a little sniffle, a dodgy tummy or a whopping cough, you might not be feeling that creative, focused or driven. The consequence? Your freelancing career can be put on hold.

What this means for you as an individual sole trader will depend on where you are in building your career. If you’re just getting started, you might put your prospecting on hold, slowing down the development of your business. If you’ve got yourself a couple of clients, you risk missing deadlines and either disappointing them or losing them altogether. As a result, you might not get the income you were expecting in January. Yikes!

So, apart from maxing out on lemsip, what can you do to ensure you stay on track?

Here’s our top tips:

1. Contact your clients, even if you’re nowhere near your deadline

Clients always appreciate good communication, and if you’re run down, they’d rather know if your work isn’t going to be finished in time. You might get lucky and learn that the deadline can easily be extended without much hassle to the client. Or, if the work is urgent, the client may need to refer that piece of work to another freelancer. If they do this, you will lose some cash but you probably won’t lose the client.

2. If you can, refer the work to another freelancer and take a percentage

Contacting a client to say you’re sick and will potentially miss a deadline is one thing. But telling them that you’ve got an excellent colleague who can get it done instead is quite another. Your client will be impressed and flattered if you’re conscientious enough to find someone to do the job so that they don’t have to. You’ll need to figure out a payment arrangement with the other freelancer, and there is no reason why you can’t ask for a percentage of the earnings as an introductory fee. This option gives you some cash, even if it’s not the amount you were expecting.

3. Draft what you can, but don’t send it until you’re better

If you’re NOT on your deathbed, you can potentially draft out some of your articles. Doing this will save you time when you’re playing catch-up the next week. This tactic is most suitable if your deadline isn’t imminent. Never, ever submit the work as finished while you are ill, because, while it might read ok through a foggy lens, once you’re all cleared up you may realise it’s not up to standard.

4. Make your environment more friendly

Cosy up on the couch, stick on a rom-com and sip on a herbal tea while you’re working. This might sound like a ‘grin and bear it’ technique, but making small adjustments to your workspace could drastically improve your ability to get a job done while sick. You could even ask a family member to take over some household tasks and treat you to a little TLC.

5. Learn a lesson

If you’ve left your work to the last minute and you’re now at risk of missing a deadline, learn a difficult lesson. The key to being a successful, sought-after freelancer is reliability. And it’s good organisational and pre-planning skills that make you reliable. A content schedule will help you stay ahead of yourself in the future. When you join Learn Freelance Writing, you gain access to a complimentary content schedule (plus a network of eager-to-help freelancers) so that missed deadlines and disappointed clients remain a thing of the past.