Freelance preparedness: how to keep a business alive when times get hard

Remember Preston’s recent post about not creating another job for yourself as a freelancer? How one of the great perks about freelancing is freedom, and how the world will not explode if you take a week off?

Recently I wrote about how to make taking vacation a stress-free transition, but what about those unexpected emergencies?

You know, family emergencies, prolonged sickness, personal issues, extreme weather, or even a time where you’re physically unable to work.

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It’s these types of situations that I dearly hope never descend upon any of us, but it’s best to be prepared as entrepreneurs in the event that we’re faced with such disaster.

This way we can focus on what really matters – our families, friends, and personal connections – rather than work.

Control what you can control, and be prepared for the rest

There are few things we can do to prepare our businesses for the unexpected. As my (always very well prepared) dad used to say, “because you just never know.”

Write an emergency blog post

Difficulty level: 1

The absolute last thing that is and should be on your mind in an unexpected emergency is your blog.

So prepare for an open-ended circumstance by writing a blog post that lets your readers know that you haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth.

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Dear Readers, I regret to inform you that I’ve had a family emergency and I will not be posting regularly for the coming month. I truly appreciate your readership and I hope to be back on schedule just as soon as possible. Please watch for updates, and feel free to leave a comment below in the meantime. Thank you for your understanding.”

Save this post as a draft and tailor it to the circumstance (you can also customize it to email your clients).

Your readership will appreciate your loyalty to them, and they’ll be more likely to return after an absence if they know there was a reason behind it.

And, if you use IFTTT (If This Than That) or a similar service, it’ll touch all aspects of your social media, saving you time and energy for the real emergency at hand.

Protect your backups

Difficulty level: 2

There is no wrath like a mother’s fury, and Mother Nature is absolutely no exception.

Make backups and protect them like they’re gold.

Put an external hard drive in a waterproof, fire-proof safe if you own one, send one to your brother in another state, or save off-site through an online service – read here for good backups solutions from Millo readers.

Save. Save. Save.

Difficulty level: 3

Regular Millo readers are probably thinking, “hasn’t April already covered this?

I can’t say it enough, though.

Being prepared for the unexpected means building savings such that your family can survive a drought, unexpected or otherwise.

Find a trusted confidant

Difficulty level: 6000 (just kidding! 4…but it feels really hard)

If something were to happen to you, would anyone know who owes you money or how to check your business email? (If something bad has happened, no doubt you’ll be in need of money.)

Freelancers, especially, need a trusted confidant. Someone who could temporarily handle your business communication while you’re out of commission. This person could be a spouse, family member, business consultant, or best friend.

It’s really scary to entrust all of your hard work to another, but you can increase your peace of mind by making it a two-part effort.

For example, you could write a letter to your sister detailing your business information and tell your spouse to mail/give it to her (without explaining the contents) should an emergency arise.

How do you prepare for the unexpected?

Life is crazy. We, as freelancers, know this better than most people, as we wear all the hats in our business and juggle our personal lives as well.

Leave a comment below and tell us what tips you employ to prepare your business for the unexpected!

(Photo from Dave Ward)

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.



  1. Victoria Mikolas says:

    This is such good advice. My husband and I are both self employed. His business can’t operate without him physically being there. Twice he has gotten ill, needing to be hospitalized, and twice I’ve had to step in and handle things like paying the staff, taxes, etc., taking notes from his bedside. It’s another stress not needed at a time such as that.

  2. Victoria,

    So true. My father passed away unexpectedly last year and I basically dropped my life to go support and help at his home. It was great to have my boyfriend help handle the details so I was unfettered, as my brain was far from work-mode at that time.


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