There’s this thing called the freelancing dry spell, which is a phase when there’s a slowdown on projects to work on. It’s a situation you wouldn’t want to be in at any time of the year. But it exists and could happen to anyone. Unless you’re the super freelancer who, with combined hard work and luck, do not run out of projects.
What causes project drought? On the part of employers, either they’re on a holiday or they themselves are experiencing a setback. Any of the two could cause a drop in the number of projects you can bid on.
If ever you encounter this dry spell in your freelance career, do not take it negatively. Treat this downtime as an opportunity to improve your craft and to take a well-deserved rest. Instead of feeling downhearted, do something worthwhile to up your game, and be happier and motivated.
Here are some productive activities you can do in your downtime:
1. Get updates on industry trends. Are there recently introduced practices you haven’t tried in your projects? Be in the know of what’s happening in and around the industry so you won’t get left behind.
2. Learn a new skill. Whether it’s connected with your work or not (it could even be a life skill like baking), adding a new skill to your repertoire is always something to be proud of.
3. Read. May it be a John Grisham novel or a biography of your life hero, every book you finish will leave you with valuable lessons about work, your interests, and life in general.
4. Update your profiles. Time to get a new profile picture taken? Check your personal website, your social media accounts, and online portfolios. See what needs to be freshened up and reflect any changes on your personal branding.
5. Connect with previous clients. Reach out and ask how they and their business are doing. Remind them of the successful collaboration that you had before and say you’re looking forward to working with them again soon. If you’re offering a new service, let them know about it, too.
6. Be part of an active community. Have you ever gone to a meetup before? These meetups are often organized by groups who share common interests or are thriving in the same niche. Find one that has regular gatherings or activities that will enrich your social and freelance skills.
7. Go to local events. Sign up for workshops and seminars relevant to your niche or about a recent object of interest that you’d like to discover further.
8. Volunteer your services. Is there a local business that might need your graphic design skill? Talk to the owner and offer your service free of charge (just make it clear that it’s only a one-time deal). If you’re always working with online employers, this helps you get on the radar of potential clients in your area.
9. Know your target market a little more. It’s more than just familiarizing yourself with your direct client (ex. a software company). Digging a little deeper about the people your content is intended for (your client’s target market) makes all your effort worthwhile.
10. Publish an article. Write about anything that others could find valuable. Inspire people by writing about your freelance journey or share tips and tricks on how to split test like a boss. If you don’t have your own website to publish your content, submit your article to Freelancer Community.
11. Check your earnings. Have you been hitting your monthly income goals? Find out if there’s a need to increase your rates soon.
12. Plan for your future. What’s in your 5-year or 10-year plan? Write them down or put them on a vision board so you can have a clearer picture of the future.
13. Try a new app. Look for apps that boost work efficiently. If it’s a paid app, get a free trial first and see if it’s worth subscribing to a paid plan.
14. Listen to podcasts. Whether it’s for entertainment or for learning, listening to podcasts is a meaningful activity to spend your precious time.
15. Organize your email. Have you ever missed out a potential client’s email that was sent almost a month ago? Let your inbox breathe. Declutter your account and put your unread emails down to zero.
16. Organize your home office. Nothing beats the productivity a tidy home office brings. Arrange your stuff, get a more ergonomic chair, change the lighting if you must, and above all, clean every corner of your workspace.
17. Start a new fitness routine. Consider this downtime the perfect time to get in shape. Be more active or enroll in a fitness class.
18. Indulge in your favorite pastime. If you stopped watching your favorite Netflix series because of the swarm of projects you recently completed, it’s time to catch up.
Pick any of the activities above and make your downtime as productive as you can. Believe that great projects will come your way again. Keep looking and don’t stop working. Or maybe, your next project has just been posted today. Begin your search here!