All freelancers have periods where the work just suddenly disappears. You’ve been rushed off your feet for weeks or months, then all it takes is a couple of clients to cut their budgets, or change their strategy, and suddenly you’re left twiddling your thumbs.
It can be disconcerting, but peaks and troughs of work are a natural part of freelance life. The important thing is not to panic and remember it’s just temporary. Plus, there are plenty of ways you can use the time to catch up on those tasks you usually don’t have capacity for.
Here’s 10 of the best ways to make the most of dry spells:
1. Sales and marketing: One of the big frustrations of freelancing is never finding time to do your own marketing. Slow periods are your chance to build up your new business pipeline and put some foundations in place for when you’re busy again. That could mean updating your website or portfolio, making a hit list of companies you’d like to work with, updating your social media profiles or getting some business cards printed. It will help you win business now and avoid dry spells in the future. Check out our blog for more tips on building your freelance brand.
2. Gather testimonials: It’s also the perfect time to reach out to past clients to see if they’ll give you a quote about the work you did for them. Positive reviews and testimonials make all the difference when you’re going for new business, giving you proof of your skills to add to your profile on The Work Crowd, LinkedIn and other social media. Read more here about creating an irresistible profile.
3. Create a war chest of blogs: Keeping up to date with your blog is near impossible when you’re up to your eyeballs with client work. So, get some ‘evergreen’ content in the bag now, that you can roll out gradually over the coming months. It also gives you a chance to practice your writing skills and formulate opinions on some key industry topics.
4. Contribute to media and blogs: And if you’re feeling ambitious, why not put some article ideas forward to PR and marketing magazines, websites and blogs. You do it all the time for clients, so why not use your media skills and contacts to promote yourself for a change.
5. Networking: If you’ve been chained to your desk for the last few months, this is your chance to get out of the office and check out some networking events. There are loads of PR and marketing industry meet ups and seminars to choose from, such as through the PRCA's fantastic events lineup, or you could try something different, such as the events run by The School of Life. After all, you can meet useful contacts anywhere, so don’t just stick to the tried and tested. You should also use this downtime to reconnect with old contacts on social media, or arrange catch ups over coffee.
6. Update and enhance your skills: There is always something new to learn in marketing and PR, and lots of ways you can buff up your existing skills. Try the Henshall Centre, which runs face to face and online courses on a whole range of PR and marketing topics, as does the PRCA. And if you’re short on budget, you can always teach yourself via online guides and video tutorials instead.
7. Initiate partnerships or a freelance team: One of the best ways to find work and expand your services is to team up with other freelancers, whether in PR or complementary areas, such as design, copywriting or SEO. To get started, try reaching out to other professionals in your network to see if they need any help with anything, or would be open to partnering on bigger projects - it could mean you can take on different and more interesting clients in the future. You can read more about freelance teams in our blog on scaling PR and marketing with freelance teams.
8. Catch up on the dreaded admin: We know, yawn! But if that tax return needs sorting, or you’re behind on your accounts, now’s the time to do it.
9. Take a holiday: Maybe the lack of work is a sign from the universe that it’s time for a break? After all, if you’re overdue some ‘me time’, it’s better to take a holiday now than when you get busy again. You might find a last-minute bargain too.
10. Don’t get desperate: Finally, while it can be scary not knowing where the next pay cheque is coming from, don’t be tempted to take any job, no matter the client or size of budget. Stick to your guns and know your worth. Otherwise you could get swept up in an endless cycle of low paying, unsatisfying jobs.
If you're currently in a freelance dry spell or simply looking to expand your clientele, drop us a line at email@example.com or on 0207 632 8809.