For the tired employee, the summer months are a godsend. The warmer weather signals slower work days and lots of holidays. But what of the hapless soloist? For many, the summer can mean weeks without work. How can freelancers manage the slow times?
Understanding Cash Flow
The first step is to learn more about the ebb and flow of business. All businesses have peak times and slow times, but in a creative or freelance business those highs and lows might not match those of regular business. For example, most traditional businesses have a high point at Christmas. For a freelance that could be the lowest point in the year.
After freelancing for a while, and if they’re paying attention, most people will notice some regularity to the calendar year. If just starting out, take note. There will be natural times in a year when the work slows down, and anticipating that makes all the difference. Plan to survive. The work will probably return eventually, but that thought might not help those who are unprepared.
Saving can help prepare for the possible financial drought. Put money aside in the busy times to cover those times when income is slower. Having an emergency fund is extremely useful if times get very tight.
Once a freelancer has noticed when the slow times are coming, they can devise a marketing strategy to put in place before it happens. One method is to remind regular clients, or those who have been absent for a while, that a quiet time is approaching. If they have work available that might be suitable, this could be the perfect time to reappear in their lives.
There could be innovative ways to grab potential new prospects who may not be swayed by the same market forces. For example, things may be getting warm and relaxed in this part of the world, but in the opposite hemisphere it’s productive winter time. Exploring the web could mean uncovering the possibility of overseas freelancing opportunities.
If finances are not a big problem, then slow times can be a great time to diversify. It might be time to try something new, broaden business horizons, or experiment with innovation. Something daring and new now could also mean more sources of income later. Most creative businesses and freelancers have dozens of ideas just waiting for the right time.
No money saved and no work? There’s always the possibility of having a break from business and taking on some casual or part-time work. Getting through the slow times and focussing on when things will improve is more is more sensible than starving for art. The ebb and flow of business, even when unpredictable, is always inevitable. This slow time, too, shall pass.