Client projects take precedence, of course, and we get busy and pretty soon we lose sight of the work we need to do for ourselves.
Even now, a year into running my own small writing business, I have difficulty allocating time to the real and necessary work of building my business. Somehow, I equate those non-billable hours with unproductive time. But I’m determined to get over my anxiety about doing work for ME—and right now is the perfect time to do that.
I returned from the awesome Creative Freelancer Conference two weeks ago with a notebook full of to-do items, none of which are client projects. This lengthy agenda, combined with a new website that I need to publicly launch, coincides perfectly with a midsummer slowdown in client work. I anticipated this slow period several weeks ago, and decided that I’d allocate my billable time for the next 2 weeks to myself as the client.
Before I left for the conference, I already had a list of tasks:
- Update my business papers to reflect the design of my brand-new website
- Create content for the newsletter that I’ll soon be launching
- Develop a marketing calendar to support the new site
And, of course, CFC speakers gave me a whole bunch of new to-dos:
- From David Baker—outline the qualities of my ideal client; send a real letter on real stationery by real U.S. Mail to my best prospects; develop newsletter content that helps prospects, but doesn’t simply pitch my services.
- From Allen Murabayashi—update my hourly rate worksheet with actual expenses from year 1; generate a list of SEO keywords and implement an SEO tool on my website; put my customers into ‘buckets’ and tailor my messaging to each group.
- From Sarah Durham—explore the possibility of pricing packages for standard projects.
- From Luke Mysse, I’ll ‘borrow’ a bunch of his presentation techniques to prepare for a conference session I’m giving next spring.
- From Patrick McNeil—begin using the Rapportive social media plugin for Gmail and LastPass to manage my passwords.
It takes time to build a steady stream of work, and I’m experiencing the busy/slow cycle that many creative entrepreneurs face. I’m getting better at anticipating those slow times so that I can make excellent use of those days and hours.
This morning, I was lamenting that I don’t have a client project starting this week. Rob said, “Relax. Just be glad you have time to focus on growing your business.” Indeed.