Everything in this world changes and that includes your freelance career situation. You can be on the top now but there will be a time that you will slip down yet would still manage to go up again. You can have so many earnings now but you will also experience financial drought sometimes. That is how life goes, there are ups and downs. But if we speak of experiencing slow times in freelancing, you really do not need to feel down at all. Instead of lurking in a corner and worry about your starving design career, do something!
You might ask, “what am I supposed to do?” You have lots of things to do! You can either work on tasks that are related to your career or you can do other relaxing stuff. We will give you some ideas on what to do during slow times. Read on to learn more about slow times, how to prepare for its coming and some activities you can do. After reading this, you might have a different perspective on “slow times”
Slow Times- What and When?
Some may ask what slow time means. It refers to a situation where in business is slow since there are little or no projects to work on. This can also be referred by some as dry times which is a manifestation that there is no growth when we speak of earnings. This is also called financial drought by others. It is actually likened to having a farm of your own where you grow crops as a way of living. When dry times come and there will be lesser rain or no rain at all, the crops may die and will give lesser earnings to the farmer. Slow times for freelancers are like that. Look at yourself as the farmer and the crops as the project. Quiet a sad scenario isn’t it? But if you prepare for that and if you do some productive things during slow times, it wouldn’t be as sad as you think it is.
So, when do slow times happen? Sometimes, it just suddenly happens without warning. You will just wake up one day realizing that you have no projects to work on and no client is contacting you. Then, the next day, same thing happened. You are actually experiencing slow times. Aside from surprise slow times, you need to prepare before the holidays in December because people will be spending more time enjoying the holidays with their families. It is normal for freelancers to experience a drop in business during the holidays. Slow times may also come during summer and during tax time. Well, it also depends on your location. So, you have to determine when slow times are usually coming so you are fully ready to meet it.
Why are there slow times?
Freelancing is different from a regular day job because freelancing has its ups and downs. When you are employed in an office, you have a specific salary every month. No matter what is the situation of your employer’s business, you will get the same income. But in freelancing, you are directly grasping the source of your earnings. You look for jobs, work on projects and get paid for them. The more you work, the better you will earn. You should also acknowledge the fact that freelancing will not give you the same earnings all the time. When you go freelance, your earnings will depend on the number of projects you will get. But the number projects you will receive are not consistent.
There will be times that you are so occupied working on projects that you will be forced to work for longer hours. You will be so busy updating clients on different projects and you are making sure that you are on the right track of every project in order to finish them on time. You can surely picture how this scenario is. But no matter how busy as a bee you are, for sure you are mighty glad that all those work are coming. You will appreciate situations like that even more when slow times come. You will feel relaxed. No clients are calling. No bunch of emails to check. Just you and your computer. That is the nature of freelancing.
In the freelance world, you can be at the top today with a list of projects to work on but tomorrow, you are still uncertain of what will happen. There are really times that only few clients need design projects. But that won’t happen for a long time. That is why you do not have to worry about it because slow times are not constant. It merely comes and goes. If you are ready for that, then you will not worry. You might even be happy for this is a good time for you to relax and recharge.
Don’t Let Slow Times Surprise You - Prepare!
So, if you are in a current busy situation for your freelance career, this is the right time to do some preparations. It is always important that you are ready to face the arrival of slow times. You can get ready by doing these:
1. Save money. Like what we have mentioned, you do not have the same earnings for every freelance work. Sometimes, you earn a lot but there are times that you earn little. Hence, it is important that you save money to help yourself during financial drought. This way, you will have something to use when slow time comes. You should also allocate an emergency fund which will only be used during emergencies- we mean real emergencies! For more tips about this, check on Money Saving Tips Every Freelance Graphic Designer Should Know.
2. Keep client listings. You should have a list of your clients with their complete contact information. Keep that well for you will be able to use it in the future. You should include in the list the project you worked with them so by the time comes that you contact them, you know exactly what you have designed for them and you can also try suggesting another possible project that your client might need.
3. Keep marketing and promoting. One good way to prepare for dry times is to keep on marketing and promoting your freelance business. This can save you a lot. If you can see a slow time coming, call your clients and suggest some projects for them. You can also think of a strategy to get clients like a promo or something. This way, you will be able to have enough savings for the slow times. If you keep on promoting, there is a great chance for getting clients every now and then, regardless of the season.
4. Plan to survive. Have that strong will to survive slow times. If you have that determination, you will be moved to do some actions, even beyond what we are saying here!
Okay. Now that is what you need to do before slow times come. It is like getting ready for winter season- gathering firewood, having plenty of food and water stored, and others. Preparation is always the key for survival. But what about if slow time is already here? What are you supposed to do? Play computer games? Watch movies? Well, that would sound good and fun but you might want to be productive. Look into the tips below on how you can be productive even on slow times.
Be Productive on Slow Times
1. Improve online presence.
When you were busy with project, you didn’t have enough time to work on your online presence. Of course you have your social media accounts and for sure you are updating it every now and then but you can still go farther if you spend more time for it. So, this is the time for social media. Update your accounts, share relevant information, extend your network. Get up to date with the current social media tools. You will get to find old friends who are actually there but you just didn’t notice. Also, you’ll never know when your networking will introduce you to a new client. You can also be aided with our Tips to Help Designers Improve Their Social Network Standing.
2. Reach former clients.
You might feel hesitant to do this at first but after trying your first call, you will realize that it isn’t actually as hard as you think it is. If you do not want to call, you can send them an email. Some send postcards especially during holidays which is a good way to remind clients that you are still there ready to do some more projects for them. Your post card will surely be appreciated by your client. This makes you remarkable and he can immediately be reminded of you when there are design projects he needs.
3. Update sites and blog.
This is also a good time to update your blog. Post your latest works and replace the old ones. Do not be afraid to replace your old works because doing that will show that you have many projects. This gives an impression that you are really good in what you are doing since many clients choose to award their projects to you. Since you do not have enough time to do this while you are busy with projects, slow times can let you do it. You can also update your site. Check on some errors which you might not have noticed before. This is a good time to improve your website.
4. Continue designing.
Even if you do not have projects, just continue designing. Work on whatever you can think of. This can serve as good samples of your work when clients want to see them. You can also try different types of designing so you can improve your skills even more. Practice new techniques in designing to improve your output and brand.
5. Plan for future.
You can take a piece of paper and a pen. List down things that you want for the future. Do smart goal setting so that you will be guided well in your work. This can help you to be on the right track in terms of your freelance career. Good planning for your future will also help you to be more determined with your job. This will also allow you to look into things that you need to do in order to reach your goals.
6. Sell designs.
If you want to earn during these times, you can sell some of your designs. You can sell your logos, vector designs and others. There are lots of sites online that buy stuff like that. If you have stock photos, you can sell them also. If you want, you can also create new designs for selling. This can give you passive income, you will be earning even if you are not selling designs consistently.
7. Archive, backup and organize files.
Since you do not have some designing to do, you can also take this time to archive, backup and organize your files. Delete files that you are not using. Save your previous designs on a CD or in an external hard drive. Organize your folders so you won’t have a hard time looking for the files you need. This way, it will easier to locate your files when you get back to work.
8. Think guest posting.
Look for websites where you can do a guest post. Query the owners if you could guest post in their site. You can either ask for a fee in doing that or you can do that for free. Make sure that what you will write as guest post is a good article because this will still boomerang to you. If you are writing a good article, readers of the site where you are guest posting will also be following you in your own website. Read on 10 Ways for a Successful Guest Posting.
9. Study how to improve career.
Look into your freelance career. Which points need improvement? What can you do to be a better freelance designer? Try to refine your design process to arrive on better outputs while hitting deadlines at the same time. Analyze how you can make use of your hours on a better way in order to finish tasks faster. Look into how you can handle your clients and how you can be more efficient in your work. Also, think on what new things you can try for your business to improve. Think of new strategies to get more clients and to have better design project outputs.
10. Check your finances.
If you do the above mentioned stuff, you will still end up productive. But some people choose to do tasks that are not related to their career or they opt to just relax or do some of their hobbies. Here are other things that you can also do during slow times. This can be another good option for you.
Slow Down in Slow Times
Well, if you made it a habit to clean your workplace before and after work, then you do not have much to clean. But if you do not clean your area constantly, then you will really need to allocate a lot of hours to organize your files and clean your work area. Throw away papers that you no longer use or you can cut them into smaller squares so you can use it to write your work reminders and others. Arrange your stuff well depending on type and usage. But aside from cleaning your workplace, you also need to clean your entire home. Seems that is indeed a lot of work, right?
2. Watch movies.
You can also unwind by watching a good movie. You might have lots of movies in your computer that you have saved but didn’t have time to watch. Have a movie marathon. No one’s gonna stop you from doing that. Watch as many movies as you can because when you have projects, you won’t have time to watch anymore.
3. Hang out with friends.
Call your friends and ask them out. You can go to your favorite place and just tell stories. You can also have dinner with them or even go to a movie house. Enjoy your time with friends. Catch up with them, for sure you have missed a lot of good stories from your friend’s experiences. This can be a good time to bond with them.
Why not go out of town for a day or two? Think of a place that you want to visit. Ask someone to go with you. This way, you will be able to relax and you will also enjoy the place which you wanted to see. You can get inspiration while travelling. You will even be more creative when you get back to work. But do not be spending so many days or weeks on vacation because for sure, you’ve got work to do when you get back. See also Freelance Designers: Pack your Suitcase and Gain Thrilling Advantages.
5. Engage in sports or go to the gym.
Maybe you do exercise everyday for a few minutes but if you are given more time to do that, you can try a new sports or you can go to gym. Think of a sport that you are interested in and give it a try. You can go swimming, play basketball, badminton, tennis or any other sports. If you decided to go to the gym, work on other exercises to help you improve your body more. At least, this time, you won’t worry about spending hours in the gym since you do not have a project to finish.
Have you bought books and magazines but didn’t have time to read? Why don’t you get them now and start reading? You can learn a lot from reading especially if your reading materials are informative. You’ll surely feel good that you got new things to learn which you can apply to your work. Do not just read about design, you can also read about business, sports and other topics. You can even try the latest book seller fiction or non-fiction.
7. Experiment on other fields.
You can also try designing aside from using your computer. You can do sketching, painting and others. This can develop your creativity and help you improve other skills. For sure, you have tried sketching first before you went into computer designing. This can be the right time to develop your sketching skills again. You might also want to try other activities aside from designing. You can try gardening, knitting or whatever comes into your mind. You can develop new skills from doing other activities. You can also check on other things to do in our article, Bored? Here are 10 Things You Can Do Beyond Designing
You have two options when slow time comes, you can still work or you can just relax. Aside from improving your freelance career, this is also your chance of taking a break from business. So, instead of worrying of your earnings or starving from design work, you’d better do sensible things to get through the slow times. Because, after all, this slow time will soon end. And, you might even miss it if you’re on the high time once again. So, make use of your low times wisely and sensibly.
It's Your Turn Now
Which activities do you think would you do during slow times? Do you prefer to be productive or you prefer to take a break and relax? Well, who said slow times are really slow after all when you can actually do a lot of things when it comes.