Turn Slow Time Into Go Time

Most freelance designers are used to ebbs and flows in their work schedules. Sometimes a line of clients may beat down your door with projects to be completed post-haste. Then there are times when getting up and enjoying your morning coffee counts as an official activity for the day. (Learn how to get more done by attending the How to Stuff 10 Pounds of You-Know What Into a 5-Day Week (Week After Week) session at HOW Design Live.)

While there’s no foolproof formula for keeping work coming your way, you can take steps to make your downtime more productive. Here are some recommendations:

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Market your talents. If you’re like most freelance designers, you rarely have the time (or resources) to promote yourself on a broad scale, so you instead rely on word of mouth and personal contacts to grow your client base. If you have some downtime, it’s an opportunity to remind people of your expertise and availability. You might send a client an industry article you know they’d appreciate along with a note, or create a short newsletter that includes useful design tips along with your contact information.

Revamp your resume and portfolio. A slow work period is a great time to update your resume and refresh your print and online portfolios with stand-out projects from the last few months. If you’ve upgraded your skill set in the last year—perhaps you’ve gained more web and social media experience—this is the time to add those skills to your resume and online profiles.

Check in. The summer and year-end can be hectic times for companies—it’s also when employees tend to take time off. Touch base with your clients and let them know you’re available if they need extra support while full-time employees are out. They may not have something for you to work on immediately, but you’ll be top of mind should they require help in the near future. (Get better at finding hidden opportunities by attending the Expand Your Realm for Success: Grow Giant Ears and Listen for Hidden Opportunities session at HOW Design Live.)

Update your skills. If work is a little slow, use the downtime to learn a new software package. (Visit HOW Design University for online design workshops and other learning opportunities.) It’s easy to fall behind with the latest applications when you’re busy with projects. Updating your skill set will allow you to take on a wider variety of work and add experience to your resume, making you ultimately more attractive to current and prospective clients.

V7358Sign up. If you’re not already registered with a staffing firm, consider doing so. A recruiter can help fill your calendar with project work and provide introductions to new clients. If you’re already registered with an agency, check in and let them know you’re ready to roll should an opportunity arise.

A slowdown in projects is a challenge for any freelance professional. But by taking some of these suggestions into consideration and using your downtime strategically, you may find that you have less slow time and more “go-time” all year round.

(featured photo courtesy Shutterstock)

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