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The freelance dry spell – what to do when you’re out of workStijn Schutyser
A freelance dry spell is a tough reality for a lot of freelancers. A short dry spell isn’t all that bad: it gives you some time to breathe after doing tons of work. However, a prolonged dry spell because of losing a major client, a postponed project or a late payment can be problematic. In this blog post, we’ll go over some useful tips on what to do when you’re hit with the freelance dry spell.
1. Reach out to your network
Keeping tabs with your network is important. Not only because you never know where the next gig might come from, but also because de-isolation reduces the loneliness of a dry spell. Networking might not always be the most fun thing to do, but there’s no denying that it’s a vital part of your freelance career. Check out our 15 tips for professional networking if you need some guidance!
Additionally, it’s easier to reach out to people you’ve already worked for or industry colleagues than trying to form new introductions, especially when you’re in a pinch. It’s always a good idea to send a few emails to former clients, industry colleagues and your networking circles to let them know that you’re looking for work. If they’re in need of your services, the application process will go that much smoother.
2. Evaluate your business model
Perhaps the gaps in your work are the result of a business model that’s not optimal yet. Are you delivering the right amount of value for the right price? Research where your fees fall on the spectrum for your profession and check whether your daily rate is still up-to-date with your current spending.
You might also want to map out your costs and check where you can save some money. Are there some tasks you’ve subcontracted that you can do yourself? Have your business and personal spending crept up? Setting up consistent bookkeeping and budgeting systems can help you track and compare.
3. Add skills and try out new tools
Use your ‘downtime’ to take online tutorials or get coaching from a fellow freelancer. If you can afford it, enroll in a course or certification program that’ll add to your marketability (then update your bio on all platforms). Visit blogs and websites for insights and advice about your industry, marketing tips, financial planning info, and productivity strategies. And don’t forget about your (local) library!
This period of less work is also a great time to get to know and try out some new tools to help increase your productivity or easily deal with minor annoyances. We’ve outlined 10 tools to help you grow in a free whitepaper you can download at the bottom of this page.
4. Clean up, online and offline
A freelance dry spell is the perfect time to check if all your online profiles, your website and your blog are still up-to-date. Update your bio across platforms. Add recent accomplishments, awards, testimonials, or other achievements. Make sure it’s clear what your specialties are, what value you deliver and how clients are likely to benefit from your work. If you find things a prospect might misunderstand or find objectionable in your social media activity, modify or delete them. Offline, you can finally tackle that administrative stuff you’ve been meaning to get to.
5. Size up your (online) marketing
Your (online) marketing may not be what it should be and is therefore not yielding the results you were hoping for. Some ‘dry time’ is then the perfect opportunity to reiterate on your (online) marketing. More good news: we’ve already written an two-piece article about this to help you out. Part 1 covers social media, social media optimization and online marketing through your own website, and part 2 discusses Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging and email newsletters.
There’s no other way of saying it: a freelance dry spell sucks. The good news is that you can use this time to be productive, even if you’re out of work for a bit. Evaluate your current business model and your marketing strategies to minimize dry spells in the future, acquire some new skills that can land you new gigs, clean up your online and offline acts, … These are just a few examples of how you can use your dry time to your advantage. And don’t forget: you can always reach out to your network to look for more work. Or you can just put yourself out there, like the bold freelancer you are!
Of course, the best way to deal with a freelance dry spell is to find new, exciting gigs. Why not check out IT Match’s opportunities? 🙂