Freelancing is a really demanding career. Getting the first project, communicating with clients, scheduling work, keeping track of deadlines, invoices, feedback and so on. You don’t realize when you transform from a novice to a pro freelancer.
But then you face a reality.
You have completed your last project and don’t have any work at hand. You are worried if this is the end of your freelancing career or if suddenly the market has become too competitive?
Don’t fear. Having dry spells are typical to any freelancing career and even the most reputed freelancers in any industry experience this at some point or other. But they know how to handle these downtimes for a better future.
Don’t use this time to go crazy for finding work; rather try to utilize this for your personal development. Have faith that this phase will last only for a couple of days or weeks and you will get back to work soon.
In this article, I have listed a couple of strategies to survive these dry spells of freelancing career and to utilize these unpaid hours for a better remunerative freelancing career.
Follow a plan
It happens that when you are too busy with work, you don’t bother to look for new opportunities. You start searching only when you have no work left. Rather try to maintain a routine and set aside an hour or two each week to look for new prospects. That way you will have new projects ready as soon as you finish old ones.
Maintain regular routine
Having no work doesn’t imply that you will spend time watching TV and wake up at 11 in the morning. Don’t spoil your routine. Use this available free time to search new opportunities. The more you search, the better the chance that you will start working soon. Besides, use this time to complete pending tasks, e.g. collecting due invoices, filing financial statements etc.
Contact old clients
If new prospects don’t show up, why not contact old clients (hopefully you have good terms with them) and ask if they have anything to offer? They are aware of your expertise and it is very likely that they will prefer to work with you again rather hiring a new freelancer.
The key to successful freelancing is continuous networking. You are not in a job; you must find work yourself. The best way for this is to make as many contacts as possible. A successful freelancing career without references is hard to imagine. Use these unpaid hours to contact new people and expand your network.
Improve your profile and portfolio
If you are working on platforms like Freelancer and Upwork, it is a good time to look back at your profile and to improve it. Update your profile by including the new skills that you have learned till now. Don’t forget to replace your old portfolio items with new ones since they are likely to be better ones. Once you improve your online presence, getting new work will be only a matter of time.
Till now, you were busy doing other’s work. Now use this lazy time to do something to help your career. If you are a writer, you can write a couple of guest posts that will enhance your reputation as a writer. If you are a freelance photographer, do some photography projects of your own choice. You can either publish them to advertise your skills or sell them to compensate for these unpaid hours.
Do something you like
Take this time to do something you really love to do. You can exercise your hobbies for which you don’t have much time otherwise. Alternatively, you can devote your time and effort to any good cause. This will give you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
This is the key to start working again. Don’t get discouraged by this temporary absence of work. If you do so, this reflects in your behavior and prospective clients can sense that. Again, don’t beg for work. Maintain a professional approach in your communication and don’t devalue your expertise.
Improve your skills
Take this time to analyze the latest demands of your field. If there is something that other freelancers are able to offer and you are not, you know the root of your dry spell. Without wasting any time, try to learn these skills and enhance your expertise area to become a better fit for the industry.
No matter in which industry you are working, it is obvious that continuous changes are taking place within it. These unpaid hours can be a good time to update yourself on the latest trends and happenings in your industry. You get this information from online resources, by attending related seminars and also through professional networking sites like Linkedin. If you desire a long-term career in the industry, you must know what is going around.
Try side hustling
If these unpaid hours are causing you financial hardship, it is better to look for side hustles temporarily. This will relief your distress to some extent. Besides, you will learn new skills. Who knows? Probably, you will find a new channel for freelancing.
Take a break
Despite all your efforts if nothing is really helping, it’s better to accept the dry spell and enjoy it as if you are taking a break. If you were working continuously for the last couple of months, you needed a break. It’s good that you are experiencing this dry spell. Forget about work completely and enjoy this holiday time to its fullest. When you will start working again, you will be full of energy and motivation.
Freelancing is not that easy as it looks like. You need a lot of discipline and self-motivation to become successful. And surviving dry spells is an integral part of it. Try these strategies and let me know if they were of any help to you.