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Freelancing is a great way to work and a great way to live. However, it also can be a feast or famine way of life. Either you’ve got too much work or you don’t have enough.
So, what to do when work is slow?
Fortunately, there are lots of things to do when work is slow! When you’re a freelancer working for yourself, you don’t have to fill empty work hours doing tasks your boss assigns you which you don’t enjoy. You can spend your slow time doing things you do enjoy and which will make your freelance work and your freelance life even better.
Here are 10 things to do when work is slow and you’re a freelancer.
What To Do When Work is Slow
These ideas can help you get out of the famine and back into the feast of freelancing and enjoy your freelance life more. Ideally, you’ll be able to use these ideas not only to get through the slow time but to avoid a future famine and make the rest of your freelance career be a feast.
1. Look for more freelance work
When you reach the famine cycle of freelancing, take the opportunity to look for more work.
If appropriate, ask your current clients if they have anything else you can help them with. Do some cold calling, even if it’s hard. Look on job search sites, LinkedIn Jobs and Twitter to find other work opportunities. Nothing can fix a slow period at work like more work.
2. Raise your rates
When work is slow, it might be a good time to sit back and reevaluate the rates you’re charging. How long has it been since you’ve raised them? Have you checked the market lately to see what other freelancers are charging for the same work?
If you decide the time has come for you to start charging more, this means you’ll be able to set aside more money in case your work slows down again in the future.
3. Write a guest post
If you’re a good writer, write a guest post for a website relevant to your freelance niche. Guest posting helps improve your visibility by getting your name and your freelance services in front of more people.
When you look for places to guest post, be sure it’s for a site that will give you a byline and an author bio along with at least one do-follow link to your own website or blog.
People will then see your name on whatever you write, your author bio will tell them what you do, and they can click on that link to see your own freelance site. That backlink can also elevate your site in search engine rankings, which will also then improve your visibility as a freelancer.
4. Focus on input rather than output
When you work, you’re using the part of your brain that creates products and services for your freelance clients. Now that your work has slowed down a bit, you have time to use a different part of your brain to receive information and ideas that you can use for yourself.
Read up on your industry. Brush up on your skills. Take an online course that will help further your career. You’ll not only learn new things, it will probably feel really good to give the receiving and learning part of your brain a good workout.
5. Learn a new skill
A really good way to spend your slow time at work, and also another way you can focus on input rather than output, is to use your downtime learning a new freelance skill.
Learning a new skill is a great way to make more money when you start using that skill. This doesn’t mean you’ll give up your current line of freelance work to start another. A new skill can enhance your current work or be used to earn money as a side gig.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to learn. There are thousands of economical online skills courses you can take on platforms such as SkillShare and Udemy. The new skill you learn just might turn a future freelancing famine into a freelancing feast.
6. Build another income stream
Having more than one income stream gives you financial redundancy and is a really safe and smart way to live. Now that you’ve got some downtime, focus on building a new stream of income. You can do this in several different ways:
- find a new freelance client or two
- learn a new skill so you can have a side hustle
- create a blog so you can make money blogging
- create a passive income stream
Chances are, all of your income streams won’t dry out at the same time. With more than one stream of income, if your work does slow down again you’re less likely to have to struggle financially.
7. Work on your website or blog
Your freelance blog (you do have a freelance blog, right?) may be getting a little dusty. Time to brush it off and update it.
Add more client testimonials, an updated photo of yourself, and updated About page if you have anything new to say. Write an informative blog post or two or three to let people know you’re still around. The better your freelance blog, the more likely you will attract clients with it.
Networking can be a really effective and even fun way to find more freelance clients. In-person networking, such as at a conference or meetup, is probably the most effective way to connect with people. Face-to-face interactions are far more powerful than internet interactions.
Internet networking is definitely a good way to find new freelance clients too, though. It’s also easier, and you can do it more often. So start following and interacting with people in your field on social media. Write a social media post or two that lets people know you’re available to take on some work.
Also, tell people you know in your personal life that you can take on more freelance work. They may know someone who can use your skills.
9. Update your online profiles
A lot of time might have passed since you last updated your online profiles. Your professional LinkedIn profile is probably the most important, but your Twitter account as well as your business Facebook page if you have one, along with your Instagram and Pinterest accounts should have current info.
Even if you’ve already updated your social media accounts, take a look at them again. Now that you have more time on your hands, maybe you can revise them to be better written. Include an updated photo of yourself too.
10. Focus on your freelance life
The freelance lifestyle as a whole is one of the greatest benefits of freelancing. When you’re super busy, you may not have time to focus on having an enjoyable lifestyle, though. Now is the time to change that.
Start spending more time with your family and friends. Exercise more. Catch up on your sleep. Take a fun day trip or overnight trip somewhere. If you can afford it, go on vacation locally or even internationally. You deserve it, and you’ll return home happier, better rested and more energetic.
All the above things to do when work is slow will help you spend your downtime such that you can happily and productively get through it. You’ll be in a better place professionally and mentally when your work speeds up again. Then hopefully, your freelance career will always be a feast in the future.
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Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.