One of the big – if not the biggest – and legitimate fears of being a freelancer is having a period of low workload. What am I going to do? Am I ever be able to earn money again? Should I look for other clients? What if I take on other customers and can’t serve the old ones once they come back with more work? What if I can’t pay my bills at the end of the month? What if…? The list could go on and on. But, if you ever have such a panic attack, just stop. Breathe. Go for a walk. Do some sport. Do some yoga exercises. Or, if you don’t feel like moving from your desk at all, at least make yourself a nice cup of tea, take a sheet and a pen. That’s all you need.
Now, I want you to write down everything you’ve always wanted to do but never really had the time. Every single thing you wanted to do “when you finish that project” and “that other project.” How many times have you wished “if only I had more time”? Well, now you have it!! Let’s make something nice out of that newly gained time, shall we??
Becoming nervous about not being able to pay the bills is completely understandable. And normal. I totally get that. But, sometimes, we can’t grow our businesses if we never have the time to press the Pause button and think. Just think. And make a plan – I just realized this is my solution for almost all issues 🙂
What to do when you have a period of low workload
- Take the time to get your admin work up to date. I bet your administrative and accountancy tasks are something you always have to squeeze somehow, right? Then, why not do it now? Prepare all those tax papers, the bills you haven’t sent yet, everything you have to do but never find the time to.
- Search for new clients. You can either start with the old good cold-call method. Or – my favorite option – you can also update all your online business accounts. Social media profiles and freelance platforms. Take your time to do it thoroughly. You can’t imagine how many opportunities you’re missing if your profiles aren’t updated.
If you haven’t created any profile on any freelance platforms yet, have a look at this free list of job sites for freelancers to find your first freelance gig.
- Research other income fields. You won’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, so, ideally, you have several income streams. Think about what you could be offering beside your current services. Maybe some kind of online course which can give you a passive income?? Just think about how awesome it could be. And not half as scary as it seems.
- If you’re just beginning and don’t have any other source of income, your priority #1 should be looking for clients and projects to work on. No question. BUT, if you have a more or less established customer portfolio, with a regular income flow, take a break. Seriously. Take some days off. I’ve seen it so many times how freelancers get so nervous when they have less work during a couple of days, that they can’t even think of spending any money because this “could be the end of my business.” And then, when they’re overwhelmed with lots of projects to work on, they can’t but regret that they didn’t take those days off.
When you’ve been freelancing for some time, you’ll know if this client low is a one-time kind of thing, or if it’s seasonal. If the latter is the case, you can even plan ahead of time what you’re going to be doing when the work slows down again. ‘Cause it will happen. Think about it: How many businesses have income slowdowns in January? Most people try to put off new expenses after the whole Christmas gifts, right? So, why not plan some days off for January every year?
- Combine work and travel. You may like the idea of traveling somewhere, but without forgetting completely about your online business. In case someone would like to contact you. And that’s totally fine! Check out my post How to work and travel – With or Without Your Family, and let me know if this would be an option for you. I definitely love it!!
Embrace periods of low workload and make the best out of them!
Try to remember that, when you run your own business, chances are that not every month or week is going to be like another. You’re going to have to face fluctuations; you’re probably going to lose clients, gain clients, have more or fewer projects depending on the season or on the economic situation of your customers’ countries. Now, tell me what you’re going to do:
a) Are you going to have a breakdown every time something goes differently than you thought? – ‘Cause, in that case, you may want to re-think about being a freelancer.
b) Are you going to try and benefit from those customer low-tides? Plan what you’re going to be doing with your free time and enjoy!!
Are you born to freelance?