One of the things us freelancers know is that our income is not steady. Although we probably deal with this income issue pretty well, it is still scary when the industry is slow and good jobs are few and far between. The question now is: What to do (or not to do) when the dreaded downtime comes knocking at your door?
Don’t send bulk resumes
Some freelancers start going crazy sending bulk resumes to every agency or client they can find, and even worse sending the same cover letter to all of their prospective clients. Why is this not a good idea? You are probably just wasting your time shooting in the dark that someone might open your bulk email. Sure you can probably get new clients this way, but remember that there is a difference between a new client and the right client. Try to spend this “downtime” doing some research and finding clients you would like to work with, or have the potential to be networks to other clients. After finding those clients, dedicate some time getting to know them better, explore their website and try making a customized cover letter. These personal touches can make all the difference!
Improve your resume and your online presence
It is a good idea to review and update your resume on a regular basis, and continue to improve your image as a perspective freelancer. Highlight your latest projects and accomplishments, you may also want to update your personal profile online (whether it be your own website, or a public site you post your resume). Even knowing that you will not make any money right now, think of it as investing in future. Taking time to improve your professional presence in the market is always worth it.
Recycle your knowledge
When we have plenty of work we usually do not have much time to stay up to date with the news in the industry, or even take a new course to improve our skills. The downtime can bring several benefits, such as time to read the news, learn what is going on out in the industry, take a new course or attend a webinar. Networking with colleagues is also very useful to stay up to date and keep yourself in the loop. Take the most of this downtime to improve your knowledge, you will certainly need it in the future!
Don’t go crazy bidding on each and every job offer
Your name and reputation are your most important asset. Although we may want to get new jobs faster and make money, bidding on each and every job is not the right thing to do. There are many jobs out there that are not really worth your time, some do not pay very well and others demand some knowledge that you may not be too familiar with. It is better to spend some time marketing yourself based on your strengths and on those clients that are worthwhile than putting your professional reputation at risk.
Remember: time is money
Your time is precious, so it is very important to spend it wisely with things that really matter and add value to your business. It is great to look for new clients or jobs during a downtime, just remember that sometimes improving your own professional skills and presence may be the last step you need to reach what really matters: Good clients that pay your rates, and send you the all important repeat business!
To summarize, never think that downtime is a lost time. We can always benefit from improving our services, knowledge and portfolio to get new and better business in the future.