• Finance, Advice

How to use a dry spell to your advantage

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you're interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Let’s face it: we all go through dry spells. For some, they fall at the beginning of the year, when companies haven’t decided on marketing strategies. For others, things slow down in the Summer months. Regardless, all of us can learn to take these moments more philosophically, and view them as a respite. It's a rare chance to improve your skills, clean up your computer, and get your accounting in shape. Or maybe, just to relax and enjoy the free in freelancing. So stop hitting refresh and do the following instead.

Invest in your ongoing professional development

Improve your knowledge of a specific industry, learn how to use new IT or admin tools, explore the possibility of specializing in a niche market, or take a course on how to overcome dry spells! There is virtually no end to the webinars and free MOOC’s available, so find reputable resources and training companies and use this time productively.

Read, read, read

In a world steeped in information, it's still easy to miss books, blogs, and sites that can help us learn new skills, improve existing ones, and spark new ideas. Take the opportunity to get up to speed with new trends in your profession and in your clients' worlds, and better prepare yourself for what's coming next.

(Re)assess your financial situation

Thanks to cloud-based software, comparing revenue and costs has never been easier. Beyond assessing the volume of work you've been doing, reevaluate your rates: is it time you increased them? Also examine your clients' payment habits and decide whether the time has come to ditch those chronic late or non-payers.

Up your marketing game

If you'd like to expand in a certain area, or branch out altogether, do some research and identify new clients and contacts. Approach each one with a customized message or presentation and know that if it doesn't pay today, it might tomorrow — or through a referral.

Have clients come to you

Update your website or blog if you have one, or consider using platforms with free, easily customizable templates and hosting if you still don't have a web presence. Focus your marketing efforts on the social media platform that makes most sense for you, but also take the time to familiarize yourself with new platforms and trends. Posting testimonials from clients, participaing in dedicated groups, and amplifying your voice will boost your reputation and help you connect with peers.

Above all, stay positive

A dry spell isn't easy, but it's also not forever. Whatever you do, use it! Feeling anxious or depressed accomplishes nothing, but marketing, self-promotion, sound accounting, and ongoing development will pay off in the end. Take these precautionary measures and get on track for the busy times — which will soon return.

Laura Cattaneo is an Italian translator and editor who specializes in marketing, creative, and legal.