As a freelance writer, you don’t have to work for long before the freelance work pros and cons become very apparent. Freelance working is great, it fits in with your lifestyle, you don’t have to take on jobs you don’t like and you have the type of freedom about which the employed workforce can only dream. However if your freelance work dries up, for even a short while, the whole, ‘Where is the money coming from?’ thing can get a bit scary. Such is the nature of freelance work jobs; companies employ freelancers for many reasons, but one of the most popular is that the commitment to pay a freelancer is transitory whilst the commitment to pay an employee is far more permanent. Don’t worry, we have some answers below to the question of what to do when you can’t find freelance work (as well as looking for more work of course).
Most of us are fairly good at unnecessary panic, particularly when it comes to anything to do with money. However, the truth is, for most freelancers, there will be times when the work isn’t coming in as quickly as they would like it to. Panic is a waste of time and effort, time and effort, which would be far better spent on more productive activities. One way to avoid panic when freelance work dries up is to make sure you always have an emergency fund to cover your expenses during any gaps in income. We have some suggestions below as to how you might wisely use any time made available by freelance work gaps.
Develop multiple freelance income streams
When you find a client or a niche you like, it is very tempting to send all of your work effort in that direction. This however can be a mistake, if you have too narrow a bank of work, you are putting yourself at risk should a particular client no longer need you or a particular niche lose its market value. For example, at Fi Darby Freelance, we love to write about the outdoors and will always jump at the opportunity to do so for clients. However, our policy is to be as broad as we can in both our writing topics and our genre. Having multiple income streams is healthy; as well making good business sense, it keeps your writing interesting and keeps you at the top of your writing game.
Create your own digital products
One way to increase your number of income streams when freelance work dries up is to develop your own digital products. Self-help guides, well-written e-books, infographics and high quality images can all have a market value if you target the right audience. Well thought out and carefully crafted digital products are also a great way to showcase your abilities and show both potential and existing clients just how useful you can be. They are also a useful means of collecting subscribers and opening up a whole world of marketing potential.
Take a look at freelance work patterns
As with any job, freelance often work falls into a pattern. The difference is that, as freelancers, we are often so involved with our current project that we forget to look at overall patterns of work. For example, you might want to ask yourself the questions below and take action on the answers:
- How much freelance work comes through on a Friday?
- Do you get sent more work at the beginning of the month or the end?
- Is there a month when you can predict low work requirements?
- Do you have a steady income from month to month?
- Which of your clients provides the most steady income?
- Has your income level from any particular clients shown a significant drop?
Find time for networking
Networking, particularly if it is done face to face, is a great way of gaining a trusting audience and letting people know exactly how you can help them. As a freelancer you have an advantage because lots of people are interested in freelance working. When you find yourself with time to spare look for business networks to join and start making online contact with possible new clients through a social media that will suit your demographic (if you haven’t already created a LinkedIn account do so asap). Don’t go for the hard sell but make yourself available to answer questions about what you do and be as helpful as possible.
Teach someone else your freelance skills
Teaching freelance skills doesn’t just mean standing in front of an audience, although we do recommend this as a confidence boost and a really good way of putting your skills out there. Teaching can also be done online or via individual tutoring, so have a think about how you can open up your horizons by providing hints and tips about your niche or experiences. The great thing about teaching is that it immediately puts out the idea that you are the expert. You may well surprise yourself when you find out how much you know about your topic.
Tidy up your freelance systems
Freelancers are often very busy people and, as such, can sometimes let their organisation systems slip. If you have a period of low work levels, take the time to improve your systems so that they make your life easier when you are busy again. For example you might like to consider:
- Creating a spreadsheet to record of all your freelance work
- Brushing up on the latest VAT and tax information
- Contacting previous clients and re-offering your services
- Streamlining your invoice and receipt systems
- Updating your contacts list
- Creating a website portfolio
- Updating your own blog
- Checking and updating your social media profiles
- Scheduling social media posting via an SMMS such as Buffer
- Working out how to implement the latest SEO advice
Whatever you decide to do if the freelance work dries up, make sure you do something productive, that you will be pleased you have done when the freelance work picks up again… because it will do… we promise!