A while ago I wrote a guest blog post for Freelancer FAQs on how freelancers can be productive during slow periods.
Although I offered a wide variety of tips that many of the readers found helpful, the one thing that I realize is that I didn't talk about how stressful these periods can be. Slow periods can be extremely stressful especially when you're just starting out.
This doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't stressful for other freelancers, at other stages of their careers. Often the more established freelancers are used to it/ have developed coping strategies.
Today we're going to talk about how to deal with the stress of slow periods, and get people's attention.
Start to notice the patterns
Often slow periods for freelancers follow a specific pattern.
I often find that holidays, Fridays after 5pm, and weekends are the times for me specifically, when no one that I work with, or might work with in the future, responds to their emails.
Don't know what your patterns are? Start to pay attention, so that you can plan accordingly.
For instance, let's pretend that your inbox is quiet on Monday mornings. If you start to notice that's a pattern you can use that time to do everything from getting some exercise to pitching potential clients, to managing your finances.
Occasionally shit happens, and things don't happen how you anticipated. That's when planning ahead really comes in handy.
Small things like topping up your savings account once in a while, or encouraging referrals at the end of a project can really pay off over the long-term, if and when something goes horribly wrong, and you've still got bills to pay.
Don't be ashamed of slow periods
People go on holiday, get sick, have family emergencies, etc. That's just the reality no matter what.
This is exactly why you should never be ashamed of things being slow. Slow periods are never about you. They're always about someone else. If you accept that then the process will be a lot less stressful for you.
Give people you've worked with a gentle nudge once in a while. Say "hello", and remind them that you're still there to help. This will make sure that you're the first person that they call/email when they need your help with whatever you specialize in.
Never stop marketing
I can't stress how important this is enough. Never stop marketing your work to others!! This is what makes fighting against slow periods so much easier.
In fact, ever single slow period I've ever experienced ended with an email from someone new. I always set aside some time aside to market my work to others, no matter what, and that always pays off in the end.
But what do I mean by marketing? I mean everything from producing content that attracts loyal readers, to pitching new and established businesses/publications on a regular basis, to keeping your social media outlets active and engaging.
If you need help with social media, by the way, I recommend the Buffer blog,the Hubspot blog, the Hootsuite blog , and Social Media Examiner. All of the above are really useful resources on social media marketing.
If you don't have the time or resources to produce content, then I offer web and blog content writing services at competitive rates.
If money becomes your source of stress...
The cool part of living in the Uber/ Air BNB era is that the gig economy is growing rapidly. If freelancing is all you do and things are quiet right now, there are lots of creative ways to make some extra income.
Your available options include everything from selling stuff you don't need anymore on sites like Kijiji and Ebay, to renting out extra space to travellers on AirBNB, to a wide variety of other options. If you just need a bit of extra cash now rather than later, this is a great way to do that!
No matter what, slow periods will happen, so turn them into a productive rather than an agonizing process. Always remember that they happen to the best of us, and you're not the only one going through the same thing.
Over to you...
How do you deal with slow periods? Have you ever coped with a slow period before? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.