Seven things creatives can do when freelance work slows down

Empty monthly planner on desk

Being a creative freelancer or solopreneur offers plenty of benefits. You get to do what you love, choose your clients, and work at times to suit you. But one downside to going it alone is worrying about where your next paycheck will come from and what you’ll do if you hit a slow patch…

In an ideal world, you’ll take on as many projects as you can handle, and when they come to a close, you’ll have another batch of clients lined up. However, at certain times of the year – and when external events impact the economy – work can dry up. Enquiries stop flowing in, and when you get to pitch for a new project, the competition goes up a notch or three.

It’s easy to panic at times like this (and consider jacking in solopreneurship and trying to get a ‘regular’ job again). But the best thing to do is spend your free time wisely and productively. Follow our tips below to keep your business moving forwards…

1. Contact past clients

Work through a list of previous clients to see if they need help with anything new. Start with the projects you enjoyed working on that paid well. Your message may arrive at the perfect time, just when your services are needed. It’s also worth mentioning to any existing clients that you’re on the lookout for something else to get your teeth into.

2. Network

Whether you’re on LinkedIn, are part of the Upwork community or any other networking platform, tap into your current network to explore work opportunities. Find out how others are handling a downturn in work and continue building your network by reaching out to potential clients and professionals in your industry. Stay active on all your social channels and use those as network builders too.

3. Improve your portfolio

When you first embarked on your entrepreneurial journey, you probably spent a lot of time getting a portfolio together – because you know how important a portfolio is when persuading a client of all the reasons they should work with you. However, keeping your portfolio updated may have fallen to the wayside as you got busier and busier. If this sounds like you, now’s the time to revisit your portfolio to showcase recent projects. You might even want to remove some of your older examples if they no longer do you justice.

4. Embrace learning

As a creative professional, it’s essential to continually develop and hone your skills and knowledge. Learning something new is good for boosting creativity and motivation, and it can also give you an edge over competitors and open up new doors you previously hadn’t considered.

5. Do your admin and marketing

While waiting for the nod on your next project, get your house in order. That might mean getting on top of your accounts or filing, focusing on marketing, carrying out website maintenance and doing some forward planning for the months ahead.

6. Try to pitch daily

Pitching for new business is hard work; there’s no getting around it. But it’s vital to dedicate some time every day to search and secure a new opportunity that’s right up your alley. Identify businesses that could benefit from your services and make contact with a well-constructed proposal. It might feel like ‘cold calling’, but the more contact you make, the more the odds are stacked in your favour that someone will respond positively.

7. Stay positive

Remember, when you’re twiddling your thumbs waiting for work, it isn’t because you’re not a talented graphic designer, content creator, consultant or musician (you get the picture). Don’t doubt your skills or services. If you’ve been slammed with work before, the chances are that you will be again. So sit tight, try all the above tips, and remember your ‘why’ – why you wanted to become a creative freelancer or solopreneur in the first place.


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