It’s no secret that being a freelancer is a lot like riding a rollercoaster. Some days are fast and fun while others feel like a punch to the gut while you cascade down into a dark, unknown tunnel as you inch along wondering which turn will happen next. For freelancers, this is what we typically refer to as a slow season. While this part of the rollercoaster can vary from field to field, for most of us it does happen.
For me, it's usually around the holidays. For others, it's the summer. No matter when it happens for you, the best thing you can do is be prepared for it and don't let it get you down. It's inevitable when you’re freelancing and when you find yourself in a slump, so in today’s Pro Tip, we’re sharing a few ways to get the most out of your slow season.
Learn A New Skill
Professional development is something we freelancers have to hold ourselves accountable for. Use the slow season to learn a new skill via an online class or even summer courses at a local university. For videographers it may be learning a new editing platform or getting your drone pilot's license. For copywriters, taking a class to learn better SEO/SEM writing habits. Whatever your trade, there's always something to learn and who knows? What you learn during your slow season may be what helps secure your next client.
Research New Business
It's my personal belief that twenty-five percent of your time as a freelancer should always be spent on networking and new business so that you hopefully never run into a slow season. If you do experience a slump in business, use this time to research and outreach to clients you see a potential working with. Identify a need for your services, find the right person to contact and secure an introductory call.
If you want additional guidance for creating an effective pitch letter, download my Freelancer Starter Kit.
Work For Fun
When was the last time you used your skills for fun? You more than likely started freelancing in your field because it's something you're not only good at, but you enjoy doing. Be your own client for a change and use your slow season to work on something that makes you happy.
Develop Your Brand
Chances are you've spent so much time working with your clients lately that you haven't updated your LinkedIn in a year or created those case studies you wanted to show off on your website or any other you-related task that's been pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Spend your down time to grow your personal brand. Maybe this is a social media refresh or researching potential speaking opportunities or going to a local networking event. Whatever it is, do it!
Start Your Side Hustle
We should always be side hustling and if you're short for cash during your slow season, this is the time to do it. Mine is going through my closet and selling things on Poshmark. For others, it might be hitting up yard sales and flipping things on eBay (thanks, Gary Vee), signing up as an Uber and Lyft driver or selling personal designs on Society6 and Etsy. There are so many ways to make extra cash these days and what's great about most of these is that they can be done on your own schedule so once your slow season comes to an end, you can keep the side hustle going.
Indulge in Some Self-Care
I can't speak for everyone but when it comes to me and the freelancers I know, we are not the best at putting ourselves first. Use your slow season to work on YOU. Get a massage, read a book, spend your mornings meditating, go for a hike, do whatever makes you happy and helps clear your mind. This can also be a good time to look at the year ahead and start setting goals so when a slow season happens to you again, you’ll be prepared.
About the author: Audrey Adair is a seasoned freelance communications professional and founder of ‘The Scope’ - a platform providing resources and community to freelancers and the self-employed. Connect with The Scope on Instagram and join their email list to receive your free resource, The Freelancer Starter Kit.