Slow times are ultimately inevitable for freelancers, as with the rest of the economy. Even without slower economic conditions, deadlines shift, projects are delayed, work naturally tapers off during certain part of the year. As a creative freelancers, we can take full advantage of those periods of slow time and use them to our best advantage to ensure that we are ready to take on new challenges when the situation improves (and trust me, situations always improve).
So whenever a freelancer approaches me for advice on how to weather the slow times, here's how I respond:
(1) Re-consider and re-strategise your business approach
During the course of any freelance career, there will be times that you will find yourself saying “if only I have time, I will....”. It doesn’t matter what it is – you will know what you have been putting off. So now the time has finally arrived. During a slow time, you should re-look at how you organize your business. Update your mailing list, start a new emailer, edit your portfolio, relook at your LinkedIn profile, review and tidy up your business documents, contracts, invoices, estimates or event proposals. You may even pick up a new idea or two as you prune your business. You might even find yourself picking up the phone to reach old clients and take them to lunch or coffee. You never know, they may have a new project that may be suitable for you.
(2) Expand your connections
When is the last time you found yourself in a networking session? Go out and get some fresh air, professionally speaking. Speak with more people who may one day be interested in your services, or get in touch with fellow freelancers. Who knows, you may be able to offer advice, and enrich your own work through their experiences.
(3) Upgrade your skills
A slow time is one of the best periods to upgrade your skills, whether in the realm of your actual freelancing service (writing, design, film, etc) or in honing business skills that will better enable you to control your pipeline and ultimately your career. There are many such courses available across a breadth of training intuitions, and with the Singapore Government pushing for Skill Future, many of those courses are very affordable.
(4) Give yourself a break
Sometimes we should not be too hard on ourselves. While it’s tempting to see a slow-down in work as a personal failing, remember to be kind to yourself and use this time to give yourself time away from working on others’ projects, and focus on you. This is a gift-wrapped time to insure yourself against burnout. After a much deserved break and with a clear mind, you will find yourself working harder, better, and happier.
I hope these tips are useful and trust me, I’ll be using them myself too.