Have you hit the dreaded “freelance famine”?
A freelance famine is a period of time when business really slows down and you are twiddling your thumbs and stressing over your bank accounts. This generally occurs around big holiday periods, such as Christmas or summer breaks.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Freelance writing often moves in ebbs and flows. The “feast” where you are inundated with work. And then the dreaded “famine” where you have barely any work. #feastorfamine #freelancewriter ” quote=”Freelance writing often moves in ebbs and flows. The “feast” where you are inundated with work. And then the dreaded “famine” where you have barely any work.”]
Everyone experiences it.
It can be scary. As freelance writers, if we have no work, we don’t get paid. But don’t panic. The feast is ahead! There are ways to manage your finances so that your bank accounts won’t take too much of a hit during the slow periods (such as creating and sticking to a budget).
Apart from actively pursuing more work (which you MUST keep doing), there are other ways to take advantage of this quiet period.
10 tips to stay productive during a freelance famine:
1) Update or learn new skills.
As a nurse, I have frequent email reminders to undertake professional development to stay on top of procedures and best standards of care. However, as a business owner and being self-employed I don’t have these friendly reminders!
Consistent professional development is just as important when you work for yourself as if you were employed by a company or business. The onus falls on you to learn and improve on your skills and knowledge.
As a freelance writer, there are several things we can do to improve and expand on our freelancer skills:
- Take a course – content creation, marketing, SEO, copywriting, grammar, freelance writer, business courses. The list could go on! I keep a running list of interesting courses I come across when scrolling social media and the Internet. When I have a quiet period I go back to my list and pick one I think is a priority or will be most interesting.
- Read a book on writing – I love my local library for this. I head off (without the kids) and spend some time working and perusing the shelves for some good writing craft books.
- Listen to podcasts about freelance writing (and being a WAHM).
- Smart Passive Income
- The Freelance Podcast
- No limits with Rebecca Jarvis
Don’t just focus on updating or learning new writing skills and freelancing skills. There are so many other skills you can use when running your own business.
How about learning about web design? Or basic graphic design?
Do you take your own photos for your blog or Instagram? Then you could look at doing a photography course. If you become skilled enough you could even add this to your list of freelance services.
2) Revamp your website, blog and social media.
It seems that when you are busy with client work (the whole feast scenario) and life in general, your website, blog and social media can take a back seat. However, a solid online presence is key to potential clients finding you and building a reputation. Plus search engines LOVE your website and blog when updated on a regular basis.
So take advantage of this slow period to improve your website, blog and social media to attract more people and interact with your readers.
Revamp your website:
- Analyse your websites SEO and improve upon it.
- Update your professional portfolio.
- Make sure your testimonies/reviews are up-to-date.
- Refresh the look of your website with a new theme or design.
- Take a new professional headshot for your website and social media.
- Check through any links and ensure they are still working.
Update your blog:
- Create a content calendar for the next few months.
- Write and schedule a backlog of blog posts using your content calendar.
- Check through old blog posts for any broken links.
- Read old blog posts and improve them if they need it, or use them for inspiration for further blog posts or freebies.
- Chase up guest blogging opportunities.
Renew your Social Media:
- Create a content calendar for your social media posts.
- Write and schedule a backlog of social media posts.
- Create social media campaigns/marketing campaigns.
- Try out a new platform, such as Instagram or Twitter.
- Refresh your profile pictures.
3) Create fresh new marketing materials
There are so many ways you can market your business these days. Aside from the above (website, blog and social media), there are a few more materials you can use.
- If you don’t have one already, a regular newsletter/email is a fantastic way to build up an audience and reach potential clients. During a slow period, you can start one up, or revamp your current one. Write out a few weeks worth and schedule them in!
- Revamp your business cards! Even in today’s digital age, having physical business cards is a great marketing tool.
- Work on writing articles for online magazines, websites and new sites. Pitch them to editors and fingers crossed you have them published! It is another great way to get your name out there and build a portfolio. I don’t know about you, but when I am busy with client work this is definitely something I let slip to the wayside. So, in my slow periods, I enjoy writing articles just for myself that I pitch to appropriate places.
- Create new opt-ins for your blog. People LOVE free stuff. It is a great way to entice them to subscribe to your mailing list (which you have revamped of course).
4) Create a product or course.
Have you been thinking about writing an eBook?
Or perhaps even about creating a course?
Now is the perfect time to spend some time designing these products and getting them ready to sell.
Courses and other written products are a fantastic way to earn passive income (once the hard yards are done of creating the actual product).
5) Take the time for those “boring” tasks.
Do you put off organizing your paperwork? Balancing your finances? Cleaning up your office and desk?
What about those other pesky tasks like cleaning up your email list or your computer files?
When business is slow, catch up on these administrative tasks so when you are slammed with work again you will be organized and raring to go.
6) Put the word out!
Time to try some networking!
It is time to dip into your connections as well as make some new ones.
When you are experiencing a freelance famine networking can help create opportunities for new clients and projects.
How do you network?
- Talk to your family and friends to see if they know of anyone who may be seeing a freelance writer. Or perhaps a family member or friend wishes to hire a freelance writer. You don’t know until you ask!
- Reach out to local businesses in your area.
- Reach out to past clients to see if they have any work available. I have used this tactic a few times and it is great! Most of the time it may not result in paid work there and then, but it does serve to keep that relationship alive!
- Follow up with people who asked about your services but didn’t end up signing on the dotted line! They may be more open to hiring you now.
- Look up your local community, Facebook groups or newspapers for any networking events that may be happening in your area.
7) Review your freelance writing business.
Did you set goals at the start of the year? Now, when business is slow, is a great time to review these goals.
Have you achieved your goals?
What steps have you taken towards these goals?
Do you need to move the goal posts?
What is and is not working in your business?
Where are you financially?
All these questions and more will help you form an idea of how your business is going, and where it is heading.
8) Update your systems.
Do you have automated systems in place for things like onboarding clients, invoicing or contracts? If you don’t, perhaps you need to look at updating to a system to make these processes smoother and more efficient.
If you are struggling to keep up with social media you can invest in a system such as Hootsuite, IFTTT, Later or many of the other social media schedulers that are out there.
I also like to look at my project tracking and financial tracking systems to see if there are any improvements that could be made.
9) Take up a creative project (or finish that one that keeps getting put off).
Take this freelance famine opportunity and start (or finish) a creative project.
I write novels on the side. I have not published them as yet…that is something that is in the works! So when I have slow periods I like to work on these novels. I find it is a great break. By stepping away completely from freelance work for a short while I return to it refreshed and energized.
It doesn’t even have to be writing. You could try painting, drawing, knitting, or any other craft that piques your interest.
10). Focus on taking care of yourself!
Who doesn’t love a bit of self-care!
As a WAHM, freelance writer and nurse I sometimes…ok I often forget to practice self-care. I become so busy and focused on others that my own health and well-being tends to take a back seat. This is not healthy.
During down periods (AKA freelance famine) I love to knock some books off my reading list, take a long bubble bath (ALONE with no interruptions), watch a movie or go for a massage. Anything that helps me to completely switch off and relax.
As much as self-care should be part of our everyday routine, no matter how busy we are, it often falls to the bottom of the list. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply take any quiet periods as a chance for some R&R.
What do you do during the dreaded freelance famine? Or are you lucky (insanely busy) enough to only ever experience the feasting period? Drop a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
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