At some point, we all go through this. Some months are so busy you can barely keep up with the work orders – others, well, others seem to drag on by with not a single response from your proposals and queries. So what can you do during this down time? What should you do during a slow week, a month?
Marketing and actively working to improve your business and reach potential clients should always be first and foremost when running your own business – freelancing is no different. Of course, you should continue to do so even when you’re going through that crazy month when you’re so busy that you’re losing out on sleep so that you don’t miss a deadline. Pull out that list you made – your business goals and plans – and start checking some of those off if you haven’t done-so already!
Clients are forever searching for your skills, your expertise, your talent.
Just because you’re having a slow month now, doesn’t mean you can’t do something productive with your business – you never know, one well-placed advertisement or one little discussion with a company owner over coffee could land you your next big gig!
Always market yourself, regardless of how slow or busy the month is for you.
It’s all about the numbers.
Think of marketing and advertising as a numbers game. If you’re not promoting yourself and your services one month because you’re so busy with current orders, the lower eyes seeing your services reduces your ROI in the future. If you’re not getting your name, face, business card, or website out there frequently, you may be missing out on a lot of income!
How do I promote myself?
Your marketing techniques may vary, depending on your niche and budget. Generally speaking, though, there are several ways to promote yourself and your services.
One such way is to create a Craigslist account. Personally, I’ve just begun using Craigslist (really, just this week!) based on a few suggestions from some other freelance friends of mine. Many freelancers that I know say they’ve found quite a bit of work on this site. You can browse the “job” listings on the site to find posts from potential employers searching for a freelancer with your skills, whether for writing/editing, design work, or whatever it is you’re into – this site has hundreds of jobs posted. Just be careful, though. Make sure when you do contact potential clients, you do so with an anonymous email, at least at first. After all, as with any other online website, scammers and spammers are bound to be lurking.
In addition to “applying” for jobs on Craigslist, you can also post a free advertisement in the services section to announce that your talent is for hire! This is currently what I have already started doing on the site, and I’m still testing things out.
Here’s an example of what my advertisement on Craigslist looks like:
This is a site I hadn’t heard about until recently – and by recently, I mean within the last three or four months! From the same freelancer friends, it was recommended to me to advertise my services and post my resume on Indeed.com. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s definitely something I plan to do this week since many of my friends have said they’ve seen good results.
Many freelancers overlook the importance of business cards – why would you need business cards when you have internet access, right?
Business cards are the old-fashioned, affordable way to market yourself locally!
You don’t need to spend $100 at Staples (or however much they charge nowadays) to have impressive, professional cardstock business cards made. Websites like VistaPrint offer beautifully designed business cards for $10 or less (plus shipping and handling, of course).
Here’s what my business card from Vistaprint looks like (Sorry, I removed my address and phone number):
Low on cash? Try this approach!
I was talking to my friend Paulette about freelancing one night. She gave me one very valuable tip – if you’re low on funds for your own marketing, barter your services with local, small businesses. Paulette is a freelance content writer, photographer, marketer, and a big-time foodie (which is how I met her!).
Some freelancers may turn their nose up at the idea of bartering their services – viewing it as free work. Think of it this way, though – small, local businesses don’t have the same kind of marketing budget that larger companies have. So, they are more open-minded to trade a service of theirs in exchange for yours.
If it’s business cards you need, contact a local, small print shop and see if they would be willing to print a few hundred business cards for you, in exchange you can write one press release for them, or an advert in your weekly e-newsletter, or even a small button on your blog’s sidebar. Something is better than nothing, and bartering may be just what you need to get the most bang for your buck.
What productive things do you do for your freelance business during a slow period?