If you haven’t been freelancing long, you might not know how best to spend your time when business is slow. Although slow seasons differ by industry, winter and summer tend to be the slowest since clients are often out of the office or on vacation. While work may not come in the door as quickly as you’d like, you can still use this time to be productive and prepare for the rest of the year. The tasks below will help you get the most out of these months.
Brush Up on Your Industry
When you are proud of your work, it’s easy to rest on your laurels. However, this habit can put you at a disadvantage since most industries are constantly evolving and there is always something more you can learn. Take advantage of your free time to develop your current skills, refresh your knowledge and stay abreast with industry updates and trends. Subscribing to industry blogs and publications is one of the easiest and quickest ways for you to remain “in the know,” as you will regularly receive news updates in your email inbox.
Learn New Skills
You may have considered expanding your repertoire in the past but found you didn’t have much time to do it. These slow months will give you time to develop a new skill and put it into action. What skills can you learn to help yourself stand out? Attract new clients? Expand your market? Improve speed and productivity? Identify the most important skill and create a plan to learn it.
Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be an expensive, stressful process–and you don’t have to attend college to do it. Many convenient and free (or low-cost) options are available to you. Try the following to see how you learn best:
- Read a guide
- Attend a webinar
- Follow an Instructable
- Download an educational app
- Ask experts for advice
- Watch online tutorials
- Enroll in a Udemy or Coursera online course
- See if your current workplace has professional development resources
Whether you pick up a fiction novel or self-development book, reading can keep your mind sharp and make you happier. Studies have shown that reading can reduce stress, increase relaxation, combat mental decline and Alzheimer’s, and improve brain connectivity and function. Plus, you might learn something new.
Improve Your Online Profiles
For those seeking freelancers online, your online profiles are often your first chance to make an impression–so make sure it is a positive one. Research your online footprint to ensure that nothing questionable is present and your branding is consistent across social profiles. Then deliver the story you want to tell by developing your Moonlighting post, social profiles and digital portfolio or website.
Promote Your Service
Take this time to market your freelance business, create promotional materials, schedule social media posts, ask for social referrals and share your Moonlighting post. One of the best ways to reach locals looking to hire is by using Moonlighting Boost, which promotes your business on the Moonlighting Marketplace, local news sites, social media and email marketing. Learn more about Moonlighting Boost here.
Build New Relationships
Relationships are the foundation of business, which is why success often hinges on your ability to build relationships online and offline. Although promoting your services is crucial to reaching an audience online, building relationships with those who can expand your reach and refer your business will help you acquire customers in the future. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Once you identify those you want to build relationships with, focus on your relationship with them, not how they can help you, and the rest will happen naturally.
Strengthen Current Relationships
It takes significantly less time and money to keep current clients than to acquire new ones. Even if you aren’t currently working on a project, connect with your clients to add a personal touch and make sure they are happy. Not only will this approach improve your customer retention, but it can turn short-term clients into long-term clients.
Connect With Previous Clients
If you’ve made a good impression with past customers, don’t let those relationships dissolve over time. Follow up with previous customers to see if they have a need for your service within the next six months, and set a calendar reminder to follow up with them again at the appropriate time.
Join New Groups
Connecting with people of similar interests can help you develop new skills, learn new things, inspire new projects and expand your network. Consider joining these groups to establish yourself online and offline:
- LinkedIn and Facebook groups
- Freelancing communities
- Industry groups
- Meetup and tech brunches
If nothing is available in your area, start your own group and host regular meetings.
Attend Local Events
Whether you are an attendee or speaker, events are a great way to connect with locals who might need your service and other industry professionals who can share their knowledge with you. Reach out to event coordinators to learn more about sharing your experience and expertise. It could lead to a speaking gig down the road.
Tackle Those Unfinished Projects
Slow months are an excellent opportunity to finalize those incomplete projects. Not only will completing tasks make you feel more accomplished, clear your mind and reduce stress, but your finished projects can also attract new business.
Collaborate With Others
Collaborating with others enables you to benefit from their skills and leverage their clout to boost your own. Review your current network for influencers with a credible and respected brand. If you don’t have anyone in mind, search for freelancers on Moonlighting and other freelance communities to connect with on social media. Before you approach your ideal collaborators, be sure to have a solid yet flexible idea that is relevant to them and mutually beneficial.
Volunteer Your Services
Giving back to your community can make you feel good, improve the perception of your brand, gain media exposure, build new connections, and lead to new business. See volunteering as an opportunity to learn from the process and expand your portfolio.
Research Your Target Market & New Niches
Use time to better understand customer problems and needs. Answering the questions below will provide insight you can use when marketing your services:
- What problems do they have?
- What do they want from your service?
- What messages might resonate with them most?
- How can you best reach them?
- Are there any niches that might need your service that you haven’t targeted?
- How does the messaging differ by niche?
Write an Article
Start a blog or contribute an article to an industry blog or local business journal. If you plan to contribute regularly, you can write your articles during these slow months and submit them later. To keep your submissions organized, create an editorial calendar for yourself that includes the publication names and article topics.
Evaluate Budget and Profitability
It’s easy to overlook finances when you focus on work. Take this time to budget for the next quarter and evaluate business revenue and expenses. Did you meet your financial goals last quarter? Are you where you need to be at this point in the year? If not, you may want to reevaluate your pricing model and cut expenses where you can.
If some months are tighter than others financially, consider saving a percentage of your income each month or paying expenses early to balance the months when you have less business. And to make things easier around tax season, track your expenses throughout the year for a tax write off.
Plan for the Future
If you’ve struggled with the ebb and flow of freelance business, you’ve probably made a mental list of the things you wish you’d done to prepare. Try to make busy seasons smoother by organizing and completing tasks early and offset slow seasons by diversifying your clientele to include industries that typically need work done during the winter and summer.
Are you ready to prepare now? Learn how Moonlighting Boost can help you reach the audience you want year-round.