Christmas is over, New Year is gone, and for the next month or two the world will be drearily nursing hangovers and sobbing about how dark and dreary the days remain. Those in regular employment aren’t happy about going to work, and won’t work as hard. Those of us who are self-employed suffer a knock-on effect that it’s difficult to find new clients, and a slower workforce in general can mean no work at all trickling through to the freelance workforce. Following from my article on dealing with freelancing fear, here’s a few tips for getting through a freelance famine:
1. Secure finances equals sanity
If you want to get through a period without work, you’d better be sure you have money. Without money to fall back on, panic will set in. Any self-respecting freelancer should always prepare for bad times, and should be adequately prepared. Save money whenever you’re earning, even if you’re new to business. Steady work is never guaranteed, and finding yourself in a famine period without savings is an avoidable fate with a bit of planning. The security your savings give you will give you the confidence to get through the period without running away from your career – the slump will only last forever if you panic and give up hope.
2. Never stop learning
Whatever your business, whatever your skills or trade, there is always something new to learn. At any period in self-employment you should have time set aside for self-development, and when you hit a slump this is an excellent time to maximise on those plans. Don’t spend the time idly relaxing or spinning around with increasingly fitful screams – treat any time you are without work as an opportunity to continue your training. This will not only keep your skills sharp, and possibly open new revenue streams as you learn new skills, it will also boost your confidence. Sitting around doing nothing will have the opposite effect.
3. You can never have too much time for marketing
Marketing is a relentless beast that you’re never likely to tame as a freelancer. There’s always something more you could be doing. Hell, I could spend all day working on Twitter alone, and still never get anything done. Look to your various social media avenues and see how you could better improve them, how you could develop new relationships or take yourself down new paths. Look for more networking circles, get out there and meet people. Use this time to expand your business, don’t just wallow in your lack of current work. In a freelance famine, you can lay the groundwork for very bountiful times ahead: if you don’t dedicate this time to improving your business, the slumps will start looking more extreme than the peaks.
4. Work on your business plan
If you don’t already have a business plan, a freelance famine period is a good opportunity to look forward and decide where you want to go with your business. If you do already have a plan, it’s a good time to reconsider it and decide if anything needs changing. In busy times it can be difficult to look forward and map out exactly where your work is taking you – far from undesirable, the slump period may be necessary to ensure you have the time to really work on where you’re heading.
5. Chill out, it’s just a freelance famine
Above all, don’t panic. While it’s a good idea to use the slump period’s free time to develop your business, but don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself. Enjoy the free time by making social plans which can’t be disrupted by having too much work. The whole world is warming up again after the holiday period, they’re taking it easy. So should you.