• Advice

How to Cope with Freelance Dry Spells

All of a sudden, it feels like your freelance career has been kicked into high gear. You’ve had steady work, built up your social media presence, and have even begun to consider subcontracting as an option for taking on more work.

...But all of a sudden you come to a grinding halt and your inbox goes cold.

Don’t push the panic button just yet. These things happen. It’s normal. It’s one of the challenges of freelance life and we’ve all been there. The truth is that short dry spells after busy periods can serve as a luxury if you let them. So how do we combat the tough reality of freelance dry spells? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Keep a routine
Just because you’re not actually working doesn’t mean you can’t trick your brain into thinking that you are. And if you’ve gone through a dry spell before, you know that looking for work is definitely work.

Remember, a routine doesn’t need to be oppressive! If you work from home, you probably already have a routine, so all you’ll need to do is spend the time that you’d normally be working for clients on your own work. Whether it be networking, following up with new contacts, or surfing job boards online, routine can help you stay motivated and ensure that you get at least a few hours of real work done each day.

2. Connect with Others
It’s not hard to spend most of your day catching up on your Netflix queue. And there’s nothing wrong with a point. Take some time to attend networking events with other freelancers. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities you might find. Chances are you’re networking all the time and don’t even know it!

3. Clean Your Desk
If you’re busy, a lot of things tend to fall by the wayside, and chances are your desk was the first victim. Spend some time taking care of some of the more neglected aspects of your day-to-day life. You’ll be surprised by how a clean, tidy desk will affect your productivity.

4. Tidy Up Your Online Presence
Do you have a website, blog, Twitter or Facebook account? Take a day to update your bio across all platforms and add recent accomplishments, awards, or other achievements. Is there anything that potential clients might misunderstand or find objectionable? Weed this stuff out and simplify your accounts. You’re already looking for new clients, so having a clear, nicely designed web presence can only help.

5. Add Skills
You can never have too many skills. Ask yourself: What skills would have helped you in previous projects? Maybe it’s time to learn how to write code, market more effectively, or use photoshop. Whatever it is, there are probably courses or certification programs in your area. The more skills you have, the more marketable you’ll be.

6. Do Some Volunteer Work
Needless to say, volunteering is a wonderful thing. You’ll help people, get in touch with your community, and meet a lot of wonderful individuals. It will also help you move up the freelancers pyramid, not that that’s the point, of course.

7. Evaluate Your Business Model
Have you been undercharging? Talk to other freelancers and see where your cost of services falls on the freelance spectrum within your local economy. Maybe you can afford to raise your prices a bit. Maybe there are some tasks that you’ve subcontracted in the past that you could easily do yourself. Take a few days to balance your books. This will all allow you to track your finances in a more efficient way once your workflow picks up again.

8. Take a Vacation!
If you’ve been freelancing for long enough, you might begin to notice patterns. Maybe your work tends to dry up around the holiday season or after tax-time. If you know that a dry period is coming, prepare for it by saving a little bit of money and planning a short vacation around that time. Planned dry spells are much better than unexpected ones.

How do you cope with freelance dry spells?