The great advantage of being a freelance writer, namely the flexibility of the work, is also a great disadvantage when it comes to stability.
Project flow is often hard to predict – one week, projects may be streaming in and clients vying for services, while the next no one’s knocking at the door. There’s hardly a freelance writer who has not experienced a slow time or even a slow season.
Says Lorraine Cote, CEO and Owner of The Write Touch 4U, in the Ezine article “When Writing Gigs Slow Down” about the phenomenon: “The first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t panic, it’s bound to happen and things will bounce back, sooner or later. I have been running my writing business for twelve years now and there hasn’t been one year when I didn’t experience at least one slow down.”
Seasoned freelance writers, therefore, apply the following six strategies to keep slow times busy and rewarding.
Finding New Projects and Clients During Slow Times
There’s no better time to look for new projects and clients than a slump in productivity. This is the time to really research the market and compile a list of potential clients. If you are pitching to various newspapers and magazines – print or online – keep their contact persons, deadlines and other crucial details handy in a spreadsheet.
With a myriad of resources for writers online, find those job boards and websites that really help in finding new projects. Again, compiling a spreadsheet will come in handy. Take the time to comment on valuable articles online and help other writers through discussion boards.
Revising the Freelance Writing Business Plan
Freelance writers are one-person companies with advertising, marketing, sales, accounting and editorial departments. Those writers who haven’t had a chance to come up with a business plan should create one as soon as they can. It will help focus on future achievements and will improve the way they manage their freelance writing career. The following five areas especially deserve constant scrutiny:
- Finding new clients – Are there better ways to go about it?
- Avenues of work – Is it time to branch out?
- Advertising – Are you really advertising your services well?
- Work procedures – Are the ones applied the most efficient ones?
- Staff – Is a one-person show really working? Do you need to hire help?
Upgrading One’s Writing and Related Skills
Slow seasons provide the best chance to improve one’s skills, especially writing-related ones like proofreading, copyediting and others. Branching out into complementary fields like image editing, photography, desktop publishing and the like may also be useful. Gather information online of what would give you the edge over the competition or take a class at a local college.
Why Networking Is Crucial for Freelance Writers
Slow times are great for expanding your network. That means frequenting events of professional writers’ associations that you are already a member of and finding new ones. Nothing like sharing experiences and expertise to get the ball rolling again. Join social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to connect with fellow writers and future clients.
Networking also includes touching base with old clients. This could be in the form of sending a simple greeting or a reminder of your services, for example, a discount for loyal clients for a limited period of time. Being creative will pay off.
Getting the Home Office Organized
Remember those bills, correspondence, and documents that need filing? This is the time to file them away, both physical copies and electronic ones. Clean up desk and desktop and don’t see them as dreaded tasks. Being organized saves time, not to mention space.
Taking Time Out When Freelancing
Last but not least, don’t forget to take a breather. Recharge those batteries and spend time on what you’ve always been too busy to do: take a day off to just relax, take a vacation, go for a walk or read that book that’s been lying around. You’ll be amazed how many good ideas are waiting for you when you’re not looking for them.
In summary, there really are no slow seasons in a freelance writer’s life. Times of fewer projects and therefore paid work will come along, especially during the winter and summer holidays or other events. But as with any freelance career, there is a lot of unpaid work that freelance writers have to attend to and catch up on to be ready for the next busy season. The work may seem financially less rewarding but will pay off in the long run.