For most freelancers the holidays are some of the slowest times a year for work. Even if things are slow it is important to keep your skills sharp and to continue to be productive in some way, shape or form. After freelancing for a while you should be able to keep pretty busy year round but it can take a while.
In the meantime here are 15 tips you can use to keep busy during those slow holiday periods and other dry times:
1. Work on long-time projects – Not having any short-term deadlines coming up doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing to do. Using this time when things are going slow to work on more longterm projects you have engaged in will save you time later on.
2. Clean up – You computer, office space and more. Backup and clean up. If you have time and interest for doing a whole spring cleaning you should check out my post “Spring cleaning for Freelancers and Creatives” for some useful tips that can and should be used regularly all year round.
3. Look at your marketing efforts – Find new ways to promote yourself. Try to think a bit different from what you’ve done before. Make sure you are represented in social media, make special offers, try new ways of advertising. Have a look at the money you’ve spent marketing yourself and decide if you think this is enough. Maybe you can do some adjustments here for the future that will help you get more paid projects throughout the whole year.
4. Look for potential “side-niches” – Read other peoples blogs and websites and find out what they do. Maybe you realise that there are other things that can be part of what you offer. Don’t let your mindset stop you in thinking of new ways of adding to your assortment of services. The brainstorming process around this can be very rewarding in many ways.
5. Selling “leftovers” – I keep coming back to this often in my articles, and will also make an own article on where you can submit these. Told in short, there are tons of stock-sites and similar where people can earn money from snippets, illustrations, flash-files, photos, logo designs and more. iStockphoto is an example is probably the best known site. Not only can you upload pictures there but also videos, illustrations, sounds and logo designs.
6. Update your portfolio – Make sure your portfolio is updated with your best and recent projects. It’s always a good idea to show that you are versatile aswell. This point is also a part of the earlier mentioned “Spring cleaning article” but you should aim to always keep your portfolio up to date, no matter what time of year it is.
7. Have a look at your overall efficiency – Look at past goals and see if you have reached them or not. Find new programs and routines to work even more efficient. Read up on freelancer related blogs and write down new tips to things you haven’t tried before.
8. Make plans for the future – Set goals for the future, preferably in numbers. That way it’s easier to see if you meet them or not later on. If your goal is 25 000 $ a year for example, break it down to months, weeks or days for easier evaluation.
9. Enhance Your Skills – In most markets the evolution is at high pace. It’s always a good thing to take some time researching what’s out there plus reading up on new trends and related topics. Online resources are endless but don’t forget to read books and magazines as well. I spend a lot of time watching video tutorials related to programs I use, followed by practising what I just saw being done. It’s never a bad thing to devote some time into getting better at what you do.
10. Go through your Finances – Make sure everything is up to date regarding invoices, plans, savings and bills. This also means making decisions related to your current slow period. Do an overall evaluation of the current situation to see if you have to put more into savings to cover up for times like these.
11. Contact recent clients – This tip is one of the tips that many freelancers forget, but those who remember it often succeed. Contact clients you’ve worked for in the past and hear how they are. Many times this contact from you reminds them of things they have that need to be done.
12. Update your own blog/website – If you have your own website/blog it can in busier periods be hard to get the time to keep it updated. If you want new clients and readers it’s important that they see you update your website occasionally. Write up a post or more related to what you do.
13. Write – Write about subjects that interest you. Being a freelancer there’s a good chance that maybe some website might be interesting in publishing you as a guest blogger. Competition is usually hard but don’t give up. If you write well and have a passion for what you write about it will shine through. There are many websites that offer payment for guest blogs and/or a link back to you in the article so you can both get paid and get some valuable marketing at the same time. There are also websites like Constant Content where you can upload articles you’ve written on various topics and potential buyers can browse through them and hopefully buy them as well.
14. Work on personal projects – Most of us have various open personal projects that we never get the required time to work on. It being your wedding website, some logos, cartoons, artwork, articles or other things. If you’re having a slow week at work this is definitely something you should consider working on. Not only can it turn into something you can make money on and put in your portfolio but it will also inspire you.
15. Forums/Message boards – There are hundreds and thousands of forums and message boards related to freelancing, design, art, finances and so on. By registering to these and reading up on things you can find tips from others who are or have been in the same situation as you. You can also some places submit your work for reviews, ask questions and socialize with other members. You can get help, find new tips, connect with new people, get inspired and maybe find new clients.
These tips should keep you sharp and busy all year long once mastered.
Any feedback below in the comment section on other tips on how freelancers can keep busy during the holiday season would be greatly appreciated by our readers. Do you have a regular schedule for these types of actions or take a different approach all together?