Being a freelancer can be one hell of a rollercoaster. There are times when you’re so busy you barely have time to sleep and then there are other times when work suddenly dries up completely.
It’s the worst feeling when suddenly your phone stops ringing and your inbox goes quiet. It’s not long before you start worrying when your next paying job is going to come in, how you’ll pay your bills or thinking that maybe you should just give it all up.
But while you might be cash poor during quiet spells, the great news is that you’re time rich and time is hugely valuable to a business. There are some really useful ways you can fill your time and help your business to flourish.
Update your portfolio
If you’ve no work in the pipeline then now is a great time to update your portfolio with some fresh new content. Not only does it make it appear like you’re actually busy but it’s also an opportunity to fill any gaps.
Are there any clients you’d like to attract but haven’t so far? Sometimes you have to show that you can produce something in that style or genre before anyone believes you can do it – even if you know you can!
Look at the kind of work your potential client is after and create something similar. If they know you can produce the kind of thing they like then they might hire you.
Or of course you could just make something new just for the fun of it. It’s always useful to have something fresh to post on your website and social media.
Do something creative that isn’t your job
If you work as a creative for a living, no matter how much you love your job it can get a bit samey after a while. Then when you have time to get a bit creative you end up feeling uninspired.
So why not do something that’s still creative but completely different. Try sketching, writing, knitting, photography or interior decoration. Do that project you’ve meaning to finish (or start) for ages now but haven’t had time.
The time off from doing your job will give you headspace to allow inspiration to come flowing back.
Try a new way of marketing yourself
There are loads of ways to promote yourself but who has the time to do them all alongside running a small business? Now is the perfect time to try something new and see if it works. It could open up a whole new job stream for you.
Here are some ideas to try.
- Start a new social media channel
- Contact clients directly with your availability
- Write a newsletter
- Start a blog
Learn a new skill
Many freelancers survive by having several strings to their bow. Having multiple skills means that you can offer more services and increase your income.
A few years ago I passed the time during a quiet winter by learning and practicing bridal hair so I could offer it alongside bridal makeup. It meant that when spring came round I could earn double the amount per wedding because I was providing two services.
You could either learn a new skill that you can offer to your clients or something that will help you to run your business such as photography, photoshop, bookkeeping or web design.
At age 18 I moved to Manchester to start my makeup course and I didn’t know a single soul in the whole city. But I wouldn’t have got where I am now alone. I needed to meet others in my industry and form a network. It opened up opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed.
While it’s important to network within your industry, it’s also important to network with people who are doing exactly the same job as you. While they might be your competition, they’re also people who can recommend you. When you’re going through a busy period you can return the favour.
Networks aren’t formed overnight – you need to nourish the connections you make. Support others and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It’s easy today to keep in touch with people via social media and most importantly it pays to always be nice.
If you’ve been bogged down in the day to day running of your business for a while, now is the time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Think about where you’d like to be in six months, a year or five years time. Brainstorm ideas about how you can get there. Don’t be afraid to dream big – after all everyone starts somewhere.