Getting Work from Foreign Clients During Slow U.S. Holiday Periods – by Mike Michelsen

Getting Work from Foreign Clients During Slow U.S. Holiday Periods – by Mike Michelsen

Anyone who is a freelancer knows that old affliction known as “too much month left at the end of the money.” It can happen to anyone practically anytime, but it is especially prevalent around the holidays. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. And all it takes is a look at the calendar.

Christmas? What Christmas?

Several years ago, I was working with a client in Dubai. It was an excellent client who paid well and on time. Unfortunately, it was in mid-November and I was anxious for money for the holidays. Making matters worse, I knew that many businesses slow down before the holidays to the point that work is virtually nonexistent.

My hope was that, by adding a little sweet talk to my conversations with my client, I could get them to send me a check before Christmas. I explained my situation with the young lady I was speaking with, hoping to inspire a little compassion at my situation. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Yeah, I’m trying to get some checks in so I can have money for Christmas.

Assistant: Oh, that’s not a problem. I understand completely.

Me: Wow. That’s great. Not many businesses take that kind of initiative this close to the holidays.

Assistant: It’s no problem at all, but you do know that this is primarily a Muslim country, don’t you?

Me: (Pregnant Pause) Hummm. I guess I never thought about it.

Assistant: No problem. But you understand that as Muslims we don’t celebrate Christmas or any other Judeo-Christian holidays. As a result, we are working while you are off celebrating. No disrespect intended.

Disrespect? Absolutely Not?

Not only did I not feel slighted at her comment, she caused me to think a great deal more about how I do business. In fact, I use my calendar as an important tool in work scheduling.

Let’s face it. Most writers give little or no thought to the calendar and when they schedule their work. At times, we might have a story that might be most appropriate for a given time of the year, and then inform an editor who might be looking for a particular topic for a given time period ahead.

Today, I schedule my writing time differently, with stories that are of a more general nature, scattered throughout the year, but work accepted from foreign clients as it comes in, especially when it can be scheduled for turn-in and resulting payment before the holidays.

If I’m not sleeping, eating, with my grandsons, or at the gym, I’m writing. It’s easy for me because I love doing it. The problems come when publishers are not necessarily so punctual. Granted, many editors will use a piece shortly after it is sent to them. On the other hand, many editors take considerable time to publish, and to pay. In some cases, I can anticipate this. As the year wears on, however, I like to increase the chances that I will have money at the end of the year by doubling down on commercial work in other countries. Dubai, for example.

Just as is the case with clients in this country, some foreign clients are slow or no pay. In the case of those who are good and fast-paying clients, I can build up what might be thought of as a savings account of money from foreign clients by pressing harder for work in the latter part of the year. This makes my chances of getting paid before the holidays considerably greater.

Try it. Your bank account (and your gift recipients!) will appreciate it.

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Mike Michelson has been a writer for more than 40 years, and have published in numerous publications, including small local newspapers as well as national magazines such as Business Week, US News and World Report, and many more.

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