When you freelance, you have dizzyingly, busy, periods and frightfully, stagnant, business cycles. After a couple of years of doing this, I realize that there are some months that are very slow. January and August are typically very poor months for freelance writing. The reason for this is because January follows December (when there is a huge push to get work out to market people for Christmas with brilliant copy) and August just seems to be due to everyone being on vacation. The key to freelancing is to keep working at something even if it isn’t a paying project. Once you get the hang of this, you begin to realize that these down times are a great time to review your business marketing strategies and start to see how you can expand your exposure and increase your potential for new work.
Here are a number of things I do when business is down:
- Market research – I check out what other freelance writers are doing and what kind of jobs are being posted on job boards. I try to see if I can spot any trends or areas that would be helpful to me in the future. I look at keywords and see what is being searched most in different categories too.
- Increase my social networking – This can never hurt. When you are busy with paid work, you won’t have as much time to build your network. So, take advantage of down periods to expand your online presence. Research how other people in different social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or more are generating sales leads.
- Brainstorm ideas for article topics – I sit down with a pen and paper and start to think about all those articles or ebooks I might want to write or that I think have a potential for a huge market response. I even write some up and post them to sites without having a particular buyer in mind. Often, they sell, even if not immediately.
- Work on my website and blog – I am currently reworking my website to take advantage of the new information I have researched on market trends and new business marketing strategies. I am lining up areas of new growth there and figuring out what services are working and what aren’t.
- Update profiles and contact information – It’s easy to lose track of an old profile, but it can damage your chances of getting new work. You may even have defunct email addresses listed in them and that will keep you from getting notified of new work. So, check those profiles and make sure they reflect your current situation.
- Network more – Online that means commenting more on other people’s blogs and websites, joining groups, and getting new friends on your network. Offline, it can mean attending some meetups, touching base with friends who can help you network, or even joining a class or event where others will be attending. You never know where your next job will come from.
There are a number of other things I do to try to keep things flowing in my market pipeline, but this is enough to start. This type of activity not only helps to calm the mind when business seems to be at a standstill but also improves your chances for future business contacts. What things do you do when the market cycles down for a period of time to help build up business?