No matter how awesomely skilled or seasoned you are as a freelancer, you're bound to run into work lulls. While it's certainly not the most ideal situation, rolling with inevitable feast or famine cycles is simply part of being an independent professional.
But instead of freaking out and stress-eating cronuts, let's roll up our sleeves and get resourceful. Here are some pointers to bolster your income and expand your skills so you can stay afloat – and maintain your sanity.
Flex your creative muscles to find ways to repackage your services and know-how. Start by figuring out what skills are related to what you primarily offer, then chunk them down into package deals. Or drum up ways to repackage your offerings. Reworking them into packages with more in-demand services may lead to more gigs.
For instance, let's say you're a graphic designer whose specialty is print marketing campaigns. If that's the case, promote your services to help create flyers and brochures, do photoshop editing, or logo design. Or if you're an article writer who normally creates long-form content such as blog posts and articles, offer product descriptions, sales copy or email copy. Reach out to your clients to let them know of new packages or services you're available to take on.
Lulls in your work are a great time to level up your skills and grow your business. There's always something new to be learned or an area you can expand upon. And the more you know, the more you can offer your clients. So make use of that extra time to expand your knowledge. Maybe you want to increase your personal-branding game, learn how to best execute Facebook ads, or home in on your product photography retouching chops in Photoshop.
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Take advantage of a work lull to dust off that long-neglected creative passion project that's been sitting on your mental shelf of "to-dos" and give it some TLC. When we're juggling a bunch of projects and clients, it's far too easy to treat our personal projects like ugly stepchildren. Plus, sometimes we may feel pigeonholed into doing the same work because it's what we're known for, or it's simply what pays the bills. A passion project can help you showcase your full creative capabilities and potential, and help you expand your existing skills. Who knows, it could lead to rewarding, lucrative opportunities.
Ask yourself, "What do I want to prove creatively?" or "What would I regret not doing down the line?" And use that as a jumping-off point to work out where your focus should be. For instance, If you're an illustrator, maybe you've been itching to create a short comic book and experiment with a different visual style. Or if you're a content writer who is known for crafting easy-to-read technical guides, working on short stories in the genre of literary fiction could demonstrate your full range and versatility as a wordsmith.
We know, we know. It's super tempting to offer a deal and slash your standard rates when things are slow. The thing is, this lowers your morale and hurts your business down the line. (And let's not forget, it undercuts colleagues working in the same space too.) Instead, offer different services that you are comfortable charging less for.
For instance, if you normally charge $75 an hour to write, offer editing for $50/hour, or $50 for a set of six product descriptions. Are you an illustrator who normally charges $50 for a custom illustration? Then create sets of pre-designed illustrations and sell them for $20 bucks.
While work lulls can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, they can also be blessings in disguise. There's no need to push the "panic" button. If you see them as an opportunity to rethink your business, expand your creative and marketing skills, and make the most of that time, you can not only get through it, but will be laying the building blocks for a thriving, kick-butt freelancing business.
What are your tips for staying sane during a work lull? Tell us in the comments below!