How to disappear (i.e., take a vacation) if you’re a freelancer

Summer just started as of last week, shifting my thoughts towards camping, hiking, swimming as well as taking a well-deserved vacation. However, as a freelancer, I don’t just accrue paid time off like a regular employee. My time off goes unpaid. And even if I didn’t mind taking unpaid time off, the fact remains that I have so many deadlines to meet that I can’t see when (if ever) I’ll be able to get away from it all.

Many freelancers simply end up working through their vacations. These working vacations are easy to do, especially when all you need is your laptop and an Internet connection. This has happened to me on more occasions than I care to admit; for example, I recall sighing with relief last year when I found out that my “rustic” campsite had an electrical outlet that would accommodate my laptop. I even know of one freelancer who worked during his honeymoon!

How do you, as a freelancer, manage to take a vacation when you’re always on call with clients and have endless assignments to finish? Here are some sage pieces of advice I’ve picked up along the way:

Accrue work instead of hours

Employees accrue a certain amount of paid time off while they work their 9-to-5 shifts. Likewise, you need to start accruing what I call “paid work off.” Instead of just completing your assignment for this week and letting future assignments languish, do a little of next week’s work now- say 25%. The following week, finish that 25% complete assignment and put in 50% on the following week’s work. In just four weeks, you’ll have an extra assignment ready to go when you’re ready to take a week off.

Alternately, start generating an extra assignment that will cover you for a week or two should you leave on a vacation. You need not finish this assignment right away; instead, just work on it when you have a little extra time. You’ll soon have a good stockpile of extra work to throw at your clients while you’re sipping a daiquiri in Cozumel.

Scale back during vacation months

If you habitually take a few weeks off during the months of June, July and August, start scaling back now on finding new clients or engaging in new projects. Maintain status quo and get your current deadlines under control. And perhaps most importantly, don’t get involved in rush jobs, no matter how tempting.

What happens if a really lucrative job offer comes up or a really juicy client appears? In my experience, I’ve had the best outcomes by simply stating that I’m due to go on vacation soon but will be happy to help out when I return. Most reasonable clients understand the need for a vacation, and hardly any job is a real rush job when you think about it.

Outsource- if you can

I find it really hard to outsource my tasks and am known to be a bit of a control freak. You may have the same problem with outsourcing (or not). But if you can find it at all possible to have someone else email project updates to your clients or publish your blog posts in your absence, by all means get that person on board. You may even consider tag teaming with another freelancer who can perform your work while you’re MIA and then have you return the favor while he or she is on vacation. Likewise, consider hiring a virtual assistant who can perform essential tasks during your hiatus.

Don’t go AWOL on your clients

It’s OK to take a vacation. Really. And your clients should be able to understand that. Thus, even if you plan to take your laptop and check your email daily, let your clients know that you’ll be at least partially away from your desk and/or out of Internet reach. Its better that they know ahead of time rather than swamp you with email messages such as these:

6/24 Deadline project due tomorrow

6/25 Reminder: Deadline project due today

6/25 Hello? Where are you?

6/26 You better pray I don’t find you…

Don’t forget to turn on your email “out-of-office” auto-responder and generate a similar “out-of-office” voicemail on your phone because your clients may forget about your upcoming vacation. You can also leave your emergency contact phone number with your clients; this way, if something really dire pops up, they’ll know that they can reach you.


Once you’ve planned everything out and notified your clients, it’s time to go away and take an actual vacation. Forget about work and truly enjoy your time off. That work will be back all too soon.

If you absolutely must…

Work, that is, then just do the bare necessities. Don’t fire up your laptop to send a few quick press releases just to find yourself checking and responding to your emails hours later. Stay away from any time-wasters (ahem, Plants vs. Zombies) and keep to work-related matters only. If all else fails, have your spouse, vacation buddy, bartender or even a stop watch on hand and ready to remind you of how long you’ve been at work while on vacation.

B2B or B2C: Which one works best for affiliate marketing?

This past weekend I made my homemade line of deodorants affectionately called People Stink! While cooking up a batch of lavendar or cedarwood-scented deodorant, I started thinking about the empty deodorant containers I’d purchased online. The online ads for those containers had been pretty dry, providing just a lot of information about the size, shape and physical resiliency of the plastic that was being used to house the deodorant. The pictures weren’t much better and simply featured container specifications like dimensions.

In contrast, the ads that I create for my own finished deodorants are quite flowery and contain lots of nice pictures with backdrops of trees, herbs and candles.

Is my advertising method better?

While I’d love to brag about my marketing prowess, the real answer here is that neither the deodorant container nor the finished deodorant advertising is any better, just different. And the reason it’s different is because each type of advertising is targeting a different market: B2B or B2C.

B2B (business-to-business) marketing involves selling goods and services to businesses that either use these products in their daily operations or generate other goods and services from them. B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing involves selling goods and services to end-point consumers who utilize them for household or personal use. So, regarding deodorant containers, the B2B market is being targeted; regarding the finished deodorant, the B2C  market is the target.

B2B vs. B2C markets are different at the following levels:

1. Small vs. big.

The B2B market is typically composed of a few and very specific customers. The B2C usually has a large and rather undefined audience.

2. Relationship vs. product.

B2B customers focus on the business relationship and how it will improve their bottom line through product support (e.g., tech support), longevity (how long will the product line “live” before being discontinued) and distribution (the availability of this product on a national or international level). B2C customers emphasize the product itself, the transaction (i.e., coupons/discounts) and the product’s perceived value vs. money spent.

3. Sales cycle.

B2B customers must be “courted” for a long time before the sale occurs; B2C customers have a shorter or even a “rush” time frame (e.g., midnight madness sale).

4. Rational vs. emotional.

B2B marketing takes a more rational and information-heavy approach (e.g., white papers and case studies) and target customers who must eventually purchase products for their businesses; B2C marketing benefits from emotional appeals (e.g., “you deserve a delicious candy bar”) and relies on impulse purchasing.

5. Ad styles.

Unique and infrequent ads that help educate the customer are the preferred marketing strategy for B2B advertising; frequent and repetitive ads that are low on content and high in memorable images or humorous punchlines are typically used in B2C advertising.

For the affiliate marketer who is trying to target a B2B market, general marketing strategy should include finding out who the customers are, what specific items they sell to their own customers, and how that particular business model could take advantage of the products you are trying to sell. For example, if you are trying to market high-end tools to B2Bs, you’ll want to know which specific companies employ contractors and what types of jobs these contractors do for their customers. Based on this information, you can write content directed at those businesses and state how your tools will help them generate more revenue, cut total purchase costs, have fewer workplace accidents, etc.

You B2B ads would be heavy on content and statistical information and light on flashy pop-ups and graphics. Your marketing campaigns would take a long time to complete, meaning that some of your target customers would not buy any product from you for months. However, when you finally did “land” one of your target clients, the generated revenue would be huge and likely ongoing.

Alternately, if your objective is to market to B2Cs, you’d want to gather customer demographic information like disposable income, age and employment status. Going back to the high-end tools example, you’d also want to know how many of your B2C customers are homeowners and/or own vehicles. Your advertising strategy would consist of lots of product photos and emphasize limited time only discounts or other offers. The ads would also be season and/or holiday-specific (e.g., buy Dad these tools for Christmas).

While your marketing campaigns would not need to last long before a sale occurred, the revenue generated per sale would be much smaller. Also, you would need to have recurring campaigns and offer different promotions on an ongoing basis. Coupons and “today only” offers would have to be heavily emphasized. You would also need to devote some resources to product returns and/or complaints.

B2B vs. B2C social media strategy

There are many social media platforms out there and each one is best used for a certain market. For B2B customers, you can use the following platforms:

Twitter: With its emphasis on promoting links, Twitter can be used to direct B2B customer to information-rich content pieces like white papers, articles and product reports.

LinkedIn: Heavily used by businesses, LinkedIn is a great place to network with other businesses while promoting your products and providing information on product history and features, customer testimonials and stories, infographics, customer/technical support, etc.

Blog: Creating and maintaining a blog on your product website allows you to advertise your products in a more approachable manner and share personal stories with your customers. This turns potential customers into loyal readers who are bound to return.

For B2C marketing, the following platforms work better:

Facebook: This platform is ideal for showing off product photos and generating customer enthusiam. Facebook is also able to handle product coupons and special offers.

Pinterest: A newer social media platform than Facebook, Pinterest is growing in popularity and use. It is heavily graphics-focused and offers significant opportunity to generate excitement about a product. Photos are easily shared and promoted on this platform, enabling novel and/or unique products to go viral.

Blogs: Recruiting brand ambassadors who have their own blogs and large followings is a great and low-cost way to generate product interest and sales. These bloggers can sponsor free product giveaways, host Twitter parties, and solicit product reviews from their followers.

YouTube: Showing off your products in creative ways through video can generate significant B2C customer enthusiasm and have your marketing message go viral.

Is B2B or B2C better for affiliate marketers?

Each market, whether it be B2B or B2C, comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. With B2B, you must provide a lot of rich and informative content to customers who may not buy anything from your website for months or even years. However, when that critical sale occurs, it’s going to be big and probably recurrent.

On the other hand, B2C customers will be easier to win over with low-information content that might only take a few days to generate several immediate sales. Unfortunately, such sales are more likely to be a one-time deal and low revenue; constant marketing is necessary to get repeat customers.

In the end, which type of market you choose to target will be dependent on your personal style and preferences. If you are patient, don’t mind generating high-information content and like to play with facts and figures, B2B marketing is the way to go. However, if you’d rather see some immediate rewards for your work and prefer getting people excited about a novel product or service, then B2C marketing may be more your thing.

Top 10 Job Boards for Freelancers

Networking will only take you so far in your search for freelance jobs; sometimes you just need the critical mass of many potential clients looking for freelancers. Job boards are an excellent place to find that critical mass.

Not all job boards are created equal, however. Some job boards act as third-party agents (i.e., middlemen) between the freelancer and potential client; this is bad because middlemen job boards typically skim a portion of the freelancer’s earnings and make it difficult to negotiate with the client. Other job boards (e.g., eLance, oDesk) force freelancers into a “bidding war” against each another, causing them to undercharge their services during the freelance “race to the bottom,” as quoted by Carol Tice.

On a side note, some “job boards,” like the one recently introduced by Flickr, cleverly hide programmer jobs inside of website source code!

10 Job Boards for Freelancers

The following list provides no mention of middlemen or bidding. I hope you enjoy and profit from my list of these top 10 freelance job boards:

1. Facebook4Freelancers

This Facebook-based job board and networking site is managed by Brian Scott of and publishes several job listings per day. Most of the gigs are centered on writing and/or editing and cover a range of genres including blogging, ghostwriting, copywriting, e-course development, etc. Some of the posted jobs even call for freelance editors/supervisors that manage other writers and editors. Some of the listed jobs are location-specific, but most allow you to work from home and online.

2. SmashingJobs

This site lists mostly software developer (e.g., Java), programmer (e.g., C++) and designer jobs (e.g., graphic), with about half of them being freelance. The job board itself is part of Smashing Magazine. Perusing the site, I also found jobs for writers, ad managers and consultants. It would be nice to see more freelance jobs posted on this site- but I’m betting a lot of the employed ones eventually allow telecommuting. Smashing Magazine also offers a good number of helpful resources and articles.

3. LinkedIn

One of the reasons I love LinkedIn is its high-quality job board that can be tailored to find almost any position. By going to the jobs tab of LinkedIn and hitting “Advanced Search,” you can use keywords to narrow down your job search and find every “freelance whatever” position that is currently listed. You can also have LinkedIn send you daily email alerts of all the jobs that match your selection criteria. Because clients must pay a hefty fee to LinkedIn for listing an open position, there is little chance of finding spam or scams here.

4. ProBlogger

The name rightly suggests that you’ll find mostly blogging jobs here; however, after perusing (a word that actually means carefully examining) ProBlogger’s job board, you can find lots of other gigs too like website testing, editing, newswriting and copywriting. What I don’t like about ProBlogger is that, on occasion, a content mill “job” slips through and gets posted. Overall, though, the site offers a wide range of writing gigs that pay a decent rate per hour or task.

5. BloggingPro

This site sounds like another iteration of ProBlogger and it kind of is, except that BloggingPro seems (at least to me) to list an even greater number of blogger positions than ProBlogger, with just a smattering of writer and journalist positions thrown in for fun. About 3-4 new job leads are provided on a daily basis. BloggingPro also maintains its own blog (where you can submit a post), publishing lots of useful information there on jobs, writing, social media, etc.

6. MediaBistro

If you’re looking for editing or writing opportunities in well-known magazines and trade publications, then Media Bistro’s job board is the place to go. Many but not all of the posted jobs are location-specific; however, you can also specify that only telecommute positions be shown. Membership on the site is required before you can look over the job listings; luckily, you can sign up absolutely free. Paid AvantGuild membership is $45/year and comes with additional perks like insider information on how to pitch national magazines.

7. SoloGig

This job board is fairly easy to use- you simply input the type of job you’re looking for and in which geographic location. As a freelancer, specifying a location is kind of pointless and you do have the option of just leaving that area blank. Following your site search, about half the jobs that come back are freelance/contract in nature. There are various jobs available, from software development to programming to writing. What I like about SoloGig is that it tracks your keyword-based searches while you go job searching (assuming you sign up with the site); doing so helps the job board adapt to your job preferences over time.

8.  JournalismJobs

Another easy-to-use job search board is offered on Journalism Jobs. You can select for only freelance positions by inputting “freelance” into the keyword area prior to running your search. Most of the listed jobs involve some form of writing or editing; however, I did find forum moderator, market analyst, videographer and application designer positions offered too. It costs clients $75 to create a single category job posting on Journalism Jobs, which helps cut down on get-rich-quick and spam postings.

9. 37Signals

According to 37Signals, heavy hitters like Facebook, Apple, American Express and The New York Times have posted jobs to its job board. Just looking through the site, I also found other big names include CNET, Adobe, Yelp and Bloomberg. The site is very tech-heavy and is probably best intended for website developers and programmers.

10. Online Writing Jobs

By using long-tail keywords like “Freelance Technical Writer” to search this job board, you come up with a quite a number of decent-paying and legitimate jobs. There are some pitfalls, however: the site relies heavily on imported postings from Craigslist, which I consider another “race to the bottom” job board that leads to underpaid (or unpaid) work. Ironically, I actually had better luck on this site when I avoided using the search term “freelance,” of all things.

What about paid job boards?

Are you more likely to find a decent job if you pay for access to a specific job board? I say no. Having been given access to a number of paid job boards, I find that most of what you pay for is the human effort of sifting through publicly available jobs and posting them to one site. However, those jobs are still out there- and can be easily reached by simply searching my above listed sites. In fact, many of the paid-for job boards that I have access to actually mention taking job postings from the above listed sites like Facebook4Freelancers and ProBlogger. To quote Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.

However, should you wish to try some paid job boards, here are the ones I recommend:


This site offers some choice jobs that you can click on and read; however, applying to these positions requires a $7/month subscription. Because FreelanceSwitch hand picks some good paying jobs that are limited in applicants due to the subscription fee, you may wish to consider shelling out a few bucks and seeing if this place will work out for you.

The Freelance Writers Den

Carol Tice, a six-figure freelance writer whom I interviewed last month, operates and offers The Freelance Writers Den, where one can access a “no-junk” job board, forum, classes, interviews and other goodies. Because the Den requires a subscription fee of $25/month, I state that its job board is a paid-for paid job board. I recommend this job board because many of its listings are personal referrals by Carol herself; thus, you’d be unlikely to find them anywhere else online. As a side note, I joined the Den last month and have secured two writing gigs already thanks to those internal job referrals.


This site has been on my RADAR screen for a while and several other freelancers have recommended its job board. To access this site, however, you need to pay $14.95/month to $49.95/year. Still, the fee may be worthwhile if it saves you time on sifting through Craiglist-type spam ads and other low-paying junk.