Freelancing: What to Do With Your Days Off

For the first time in my career I’m now working as a full-time freelancer. Not having a staffed position is new to me and freelancing has a steep learning curve. But as I pick things up I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned in a series of blogs called Freelancing.

I apologize for not posting much recently, I’ve been super slammed with work. It’s been non-stop shooting and editing for the last few weeks. Which is an AMAZING thing. But now that I have a day off to sit down and write, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what to do with your days off.


In a normal 9-5 job days off are pretty set. You get weekends, holidays, two weeks of vacation, etc. But when you freelance, if you don’t work, you don’t eat; so weekends and holidays are fair game to be working. And when we do have days off, we usually need to spend them working on other things just to keep up. Here are some of the things I do to keep myself busy when I’m not so busy with work.


Find More Work
As a  freelancer that basically means I have to be a hustler. On the days when I’m not working (and even on the days I am) I usually spend a large portion of time lining up more work. This could entail emailing past clients and contacts to see if they need me, scouring job boards, or bidding on projects that come my way. Locking in the next job is crucial to making a living as a freelancer.


In all creative fields, film in particular, the technology and techniques change so rapidly that you have to stay up to date, or you’ll fall behind and stop booking work. So one of the things I do on my days off is to educate myself; I watch tutorials online, read books, attend seminars; or one of my favorite things, rent (or just get a hold of) a new piece of equipment and run some tests. Knowing how different things work is a valuable tool to increasing productivity on set.


Taking time to interact with the industry on my days off is a perfect way to be productive all from the comfort of my couch. I’ve said it a lot before, but the more engaged you are with your industry, the more successful you will be. Social media has opened the door for interactions with creatives across the world. Facebook groups and twitter are great ways to network and engage an audience of peers that may some day hire me. If it wasn’t for twitter, my career would not be quite where it is. I can ask questions, give my opinion, and even find jobs all with 140 characters. Another huge part of how I get my name out there is by blogging. It allows me to be creative while letting other people know what I know and what I’m up to.


Between crafty, long hours, and little sleep, set life can take a big toll on your body. So on the off days it’s important to make sure the I don’t just sit around ALL day. I’m not a gym rat, but getting out and walking/jogging/hiking, doing some push-ups and sit-ups, and occasionally lifting some weights, has been great for both my body and my peace of mind. Plus, the extra strength really comes in handy when I’m lugging 30+ pounds of camera on my shoulder all day.


If I’ve been working non-stop for any deal of time things can start to pile up; dishes don’t get done, laundry is left dirty, and gear becomes unorganized. I take time in between shoot days to clean and organize my house and equipment; and it makes it infinitely easier when I head into a big stretch of work. If you’re anything like me, organizing things is actually enjoyable, so it’s another great way I stay productive between jobs.


Last, but very much not least, I take some time to relax. This one is the hardest part for me to do, but everyone needs a break once in a while; and taking a breather between jobs to do things just for the pure enjoyment is an important aspect of staying sane. I love what I do for a living, and would do it every day if I could; but if I did I’d go a little nuts after a while. So every so often I get out and go camping. That’s how I relax. And when I come home I’m refreshed and ready to tackle non-stop work again.

There are literally endless possibilities of things you can do with your days off. These are just some examples of the things I do when I have time off but don’t want to veg all day. I’d love to hear what you guys do between jobs. Leave a comment below so we can all get some fresh ideas.




Freelancing: What to Do With Your Days Off

  • James Matthew

    So on point! Working a full time job and picking up freelance work on the side, its a luxury to have a day off. Half of your list is what I already do (find more work, education, and clean & organize) and the other half is something that I need to work on.

    March 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

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