20 Things to Work on When Work is Slow

Ebb and flow is a natural part of freelancing. If you’re like me, you have a few steady, ongoing clients, and the rest of the work is project-based. It often seems that you’ll start a few one-off projects around the same time. You’ll complete them in a few weeks or months and realize you’ve been so busy working that you’ve failed to pitch or apply to new clients. For a week (or two or three), you’ll coast along with your long-term clients in one of those inevitable ebbs.

Having freelanced full-time for over two years, I’m no stranger to the ebbs. In my earlier freelancing days, my initial reaction was to panic, desperately start pitching and applying to any opportunity I could find, and beat myself up for my lack of forethought. It took me a (very) long time to use the inevitable ebbs effectively and allow myself to actually take advantage of the downtime.

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Image c/o Angie Webb

Next time you’re in between freelance projects, remember that it’s the nature of the industry. Don’t panic! Set aside time each day to continue your ongoing work and pitch and apply to those clients and projects (and only those clients and projects) that align with your brand and expertise. During your next lull, don’t forget to take time to focus your business and yourself. Below are 20 things to work on when work is slow:

10 Ways to Work on Your Business

  1. Make updates to your portfolio or website
  2. Catch up on writing case studies for past and current clients
  3. Gather testimonials from past and current clients
  4. Make sure your contract and policies are up to date
  5. Implement something new, like a newsletter, blog, or social channel
  6. Check in with your long-term clients
  7. Amp up your social media presence
  8. Develop a new offering, product, or service
  9. Brainstorm how to grow your existing clients
  10. Revisit your business plan and long-term goals

10 Ways to Work on Yourself (and Your Creativity)

  1. Spend more time outside
  2. Try something new – learn a new hobby or skill
  3. Amp up your workout routine
  4. Read a book
  5. Spend time with others – try a breakfast, lunch, or coffee date
  6. Explore your city like a tourist
  7. Travel to another city
  8. Do something spontaneous
  9. Cook dinner, bake something, or try a new recipe
  10. Get back to you and do what you love

Many of us chose to freelance full-time, yet we forget to embrace that flexibility and power to shape our own schedules. We look at our roommates, partners, or friends, and we tell ourselves we should be working nine to five, Monday through Friday. We must remember why we’ve taken the road less traveled in our careers: for the opportunity to pave our own way and build unconventional businesses.

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