If you aren’t getting as much freelance work as you used to, it’s time to start pitching again.
Trouble is, you can only send out so many pitches in a day. Same goes for reaching out to your network, checking the freelance job boards, asking a former client if they need any help (or know of anyone who might need help), etc. So what else do you do, when you’re in a freelance dry spell?
Update your branding, skills, and tools
Plum Phillips, at The Freelancer, has some great suggestions for freelancers whose work has temporarily dried up. If you don’t have a lot of projects to complete, Phillips suggests updating your website, taking online courses to improve your skills, and overhauling your admin practices:
It’s easy to neglect the clerical aspects of freelancing, but giving your admin rituals a little TLC can power up your overall efficiency. What’s your current system for keeping tabs on pitches? How are you tracking business expenses? What’s your invoicing jam? There are a bunch of tools and apps designed to help streamline tasks like these, but I like Trello for workflow and QuickBooks for staying on top of accounts.
Update your budget
It’s also a good idea to overhaul your budget, particularly if you aren’t bringing in enough money to cover your everyday expenses. This doesn’t mean cutting every “unnecessary” expense, of course — it’s more like “taking a look at what you’re earning and how long you anticipate earning at that level, and adjusting your spending accordingly.”
In other words: if you usually bring in $6K/month and you’re currently bringing in $3K/month, and you know it’ll take three months to get your first payment from a new client even if you land that client tomorrow (because it’ll take one month to complete the work and 60 days to get paid for it), that means you need to plan on only receiving $3K per month for the next three months, assuming your current projects will last that long. What will that do to your budget/spending/savings?
Freelancers and side hustlers: how much money do you want to make this year?Read more
Prepare for dry spells in advance
I’ve got one more piece of advice, honed from years in the freelancing trenches: you can prevent a lot of dry spells if you plan for them in advance. Start pitching and securing the next projects before you complete your current projects, and you’ll be less likely to find yourself stuck in an unexpected work lull.
This means looking at your schedule from at least a quarterly perspective, asking yourself when each of your current projects and client relationships are likely to end, and scheduling time on your calendar to locate prospective clients and prepare pitches.
Yes, you’ve got to do that work while you’re doing all of your other freelance work. But it’s better than finding yourself with no work at all — or less work than you can afford to take on.