5 Things Freelancers Can Do When Work Slows Down
One constant when working as a freelancer is that there is no guarantee of future or consistent work. Some established freelancers will have several clients that they work with on a contract basis but even those don’t always have work to do. You could sit down at your desk and see an email that is delaying a website design by a week or a project is halted midway and you suddenly have the day free.
So, what do you do with that downtime? Panic? Start looking for a job with a company? Not really. Don’t look at this time as lost revenue time but rather as time that you can spend making you and your business stronger.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Savor The Time Off
Let’s face it. When you work as a freelancer your day could change at a moment’s notice. A rush job comes in or a client delays getting assets to you or you get a new client in an entirely different time zone and there goes your day!
Instead of panicking or feeling lost with what to do with your time…savor it! Your business won’t end because you take this time to go on a hike or visit a museum or go to the dog park. It is essential that your work-life balance is maintained for your mental health and creative energy. And looking at this time as a positive and not a negative will decrease your stress.
2. Learn A New Skill
The freelance industry is always changing. New workflow apps, updates on existing software, new rules and regulations on websites, etc. are all things we struggle to find time to keep up to date. Take some of your free time and either learn a new skill or the newest releases of software you currently use.
A great site is https://stackskills.com/ . You can find the industry you are working in, take classes and even earn certifications.
Another way is simply to visit Youtube. Type a question about a product or software that you are interested in and watch free videos on the topic. Bonus, if you subscribe to these channels, you are helping others with growing their audience while they help you gain more knowledge.
3. Do Some Digital Housekeeping
We put it off. But at some point, it is a good idea to take some time and clean up your computer. Find old files, downloads, etc. to remove. It will make your computer move faster and keep your desktop tidy.
Then, take some time to better organize your files. Consider using a remote cloud-based service like https://www.dropbox.com/ to safely store your files and connect it to your hard drive. You can select which files you want on your computer freeing up space.
Also, take some time to review all your digital subscriptions. If you can go a month without using a sitemap creation tool or a royalty-free service, cancel it. Put that money back into your pockets!
4. Find Other Streams of Income
Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to depend on client work coming in but in addition have a passive stream of income? Or have a service that would bring new clients to you?
If you have been doing your freelance business for a while now, consider yourself an expert! Not everyone can be their own boss. You would be a great consultant for other. Share what you know. A great platform (and specifically if you are looking for passive income!) is Teachable . Set up some courses and watch the money flow in! And as you have more time throughout the year, you can add content and have current subscribers learn about new courses they can purchase.
Another idea is to use online platforms such as Upwork. You can pick and choose when and what you want to work on. Clients will be sent your way and you can set your own prices. Take a job here or there if and when you want to. This is also good for non-creatives who are looking for finance or assistant work.
Also, consider selling your work online. Photographers can sell to stock photo companies such as Adobe Stock or Shutterstock . Graphic designers can sell downloadable artwork via Etsy, Creative Market or Printful. They can also sell to Adobe Stock.
5. Market Yourself
This seems to be the hardest thing for freelancers to do. Even though they sincerely do want the new clients, they are their own worst enemy! We spend our time marketing for our clients, telling them what they should and shouldn’t be doing but we struggle to do it for ourselves.
Consider selecting a few of your clients whose opinion you trust and ask them what they would like to see you offer that you currently are not. Find out if they’d want to get monthly newsletters from you or an alert of a new blog. Would they consider a “word of mouth” bonus where if they refer a client and they sign a contract, they will receive a free hour of work.
Also, take the time to cleanup and update your website and social media. Look at your analytic reports to see where people are spending the most time on your site. Create a year’s worth of postings in one day and then post them as needed. Write a dozen or so blogs ahead of time that you can send each month. This is crucial to your SEO as new content grows your presence on the web and helps with your rich search content.
There you have it. No need to panic, take a 9-5 job or start day drinking! The next time you have some free time, follow these suggestions, and continue to be the best freelancer you can be.
M. Page Jones is a published author and award-winning graphic designer who has been in the business for over 30 years. She runs MPJ Creative Services that has clients from all over the world.