The holidays are just around the corner! You know what that means… a lot of family and friends sharing their stories from the past year.
Particularly stories of the things you missed out on because you were too busy working at your 9 to 5 job.
But 2020 is a new year and you’re starting to finally plan for that trip to the Philippines you’ve always talked about taking with your childhood best friend. You haven’t had a vacation in what seems like YEARS and you want to enjoy yourself (and for your family to know you have a life outside of work) without the stress of worrying about your job.
Girl, I feel it. Good thing you work as a virtual assistant now and can take that time off whenever you want… but how?
There isn’t an official “time off request” calendar or an app where you can block the days you don’t want to be scheduled. Technically, you are your own boss now, so you make the rules, but your clients pay the bills.
Still, your clients understand that you want to have a life too. Being professional about taking time off will ensure that you will have clients to come back to.
Here are 4 different ways to take a vacation while working online as a virtual assistant:
1. Expanding your online services into an agency
The first way you take time off while working as a contractor is to actually expand your services into and agency. At first glance, that might sound daunting but it’s easier than it sounds.
Here’s how it works:
You have a set of tasks you do day-to-day as a contractor that your client pays you, let’s say, $30 an hour to do.
But sometimes, life happens. Maybe you’re out sick or you want to take time off to visit your family but you still want to get your work done. You can hire someone to help you for a percentage of what you make, like $15 an hour.
By doing so, you’re subcontracting your work to other contractors underneath you to take over your usual tasks.
Sounds easy, right? Now you don’t have to stress about your work waiting for you when you get back!
FUN FACT: legally, you don’t actually have to let your client know that someone else will be taking over your work for some time. As a contractor, you have the right to hire help at your own expense. If you’re worried about a breach in confidentiality or access to sensitive data then definitely tell your client that.
Here’s an easy way to bring it up: “Hey, I’ll be out of town for a bit but I have this amazing person who’s already been trained ahead of time taking care of all my regular tasks. Feel free to reach out to them if you have any concerns.”
Most likely, your client will totally be okay with this and you get to be offline for as long as you need.
If you would love to have someone take over your tasks for a bit but don’t know who to ask or struggle with trusting anyone else with your work (like me), it’s always a great idea to make friends with other online contractors.
Joining a community of other virtual assistants like the 90 VA program or the Work From Anywhere Facebook group is a great way to expand your network.
Having someone else to cover your work when you’re drowning in it is EXTREMELY valuable. Chances are you’ll find someone you can rely on to help with other projects.
2. Write your time off into your contract
Another option to take time off is to write it into your contract and onboarding documents. This is super simple but sometimes it can be forgotten how easy it really is.
Say you want to take that well-deserved vacation or see the town your parents grew up in. You decide you need at least 2 full weeks to do that. You can simply block out those 2 weeks in your calendar and write into your contract that you have those weeks already set aside.
Yes, it’s really that easy!
However, be aware that you probably won’t get paid for the 2 weeks you are gone. Before you go and spend all your money on food and lodging, be sure you set aside money to balance your monthly income.
You can also do this by putting a small amount into your savings each paycheck or use an app that automatically does it for you. Budgeting your trip is also really helpful. You can feel comfortable splurging on things you like (food is my go-to) or saving in other places, like lodging.
But don’t forget to set aside a percentage of money so you have some income to come home to. If you’re not sure how much you should set aside, check out this FREE step-by-step freelance calculator!
3. Communicate with your clients. Seriously, just a simple email will do.
While you aren’t necessarily required to let your client know when you will be out of town, it’s a courtesy to let them know when you will be.
You want to build a lasting relationship with your clients. The client definitely relies on you.
Be sure to send your client an email at least one month in advance. You don’t have to disclose too many details; just the basics will do.
Let them know how long you’ll be gone for, the start date of your vacation, and when you plan to resume your normal schedule. If you have a subcontractor, let them know their contact information, and maybe do an email introduction to them before you leave.
By maintaining a good and long-lasting relationship with your client, chances are they will refer you to their friends and help connect you to future clients. Plus, if you tell your client you’ll be offline, then they probably won’t bother you.
But again, don’t forget to set aside some income for when you come back! It’s the worst to come home to an empty fridge and no money to buy groceries after a long vacation.
4. Workaround your vacation time.
The last way to take time off when working as an online contractor is to work around your vacation time.
You still get all of your contracted time and make sure your tasks are done, whether it’s working a little more before you leave or taking your laptop with you to work from anywhere.
This way you don’t have to write it into your contract or let your clients know.
This works great for a lot of people who just want to work. If you’re going somewhere without wifi or if you’re on maternity leave and just want to relax, then I highly suggest one of the other options.
Taking time off while working online is really that easy.
You can hire subcontractors to help you during the time you’ll be out or write it into your contract that you’ll be off up to 4 times per year.
Don’t forget to let your clients know that you will be gone and be sure to set aside a percentage of income if you do.
Lastly, you can always work around your vacation as needed and bring your laptop anywhere you go.
As an online contractor or virtual assistant, you don’t have to worry about using all your PTO or putting in a time-off request and anxiously awaiting if it has been approved or not. You can finally take that trip to the Philippines with your childhood friend and show all your family that you do have a life outside of work!
If you want to know more about how to calculate your hourly rate as an online contractor based on how much time off you want to take, check out this free calculator.
If you’re ready to join the work from anywhere without selling anything revolution, check out our FREE 90 Day VA intro class! It’s jam packed with great information about what a virtual assistant is, how to find legit work online (even if you have no experience), and the basics of getting started! Enroll now. It’s totally worth it.
About the Author:
Rachelle Pierce is a virtual assistant specializing in storytelling. She’s a member of 90 Day VA and assists with everything from social media management to content repurposing. She holds a degree in business management and marketing. When she’s not helping small business owners or influences she loves to binge-watch the latest Netflix series with her pup, Roscoe.