Summer Dry Spell? A Freelancer's Survival Guide
It’s now the middle of August, and in NYC that means beach weekends are numbered, it’s more humid than ever, and although it’s raining as I write this, freelance work is running dry for many creative professionals, particularly freelancers. It happens every year. Business slows down in late summer because so many clients are away on vacation. It’s just not a high season for many creatives, and it’s easy to let panic slip in. After all, it’s been slow for weeks and weeks, and we as humans tend to jump to the negative more often than not. Here are some tips to keep yourself sane when work slows down.
Don’t panic - Remember that you’ve been through tough times before and acknowledge that you’re resourceful and capable of getting through this one, too.
Take advantage - Things will pick up again. Enjoy your free time and the peace & quiet it brings because there were times when you would have practically killed for this time off. It’s here now, so savor it while you can. If this rain ever stops, get yourself to the beach or the park, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, read, meditate. Even if the rain doesn’t stop, do all the things.
Be proactive - Invest energy in developing skills and accomplishments for your CV, refresh your website, and make new promo materials to distribute. Create new personal work that you can leverage into more lucrative projects. Let your clients know you’re available for upcoming work. Make an effort to network with new and familiar people in your industry. You have time to take someone out for coffee. Do it! Every day this week! You don’t know what may transpire now or far down the line. Plant as many seeds for opportunities as you can.
Prepare yourself - Your clients will be back from vacation soon, and reaching out to you. Make sure your personal affairs are in order so that you’re ready to go when the time comes. Finish the spring cleaning you started back in May so that your home is a tranquil space to return to after the long days you’re about to have. Establish healthy sleep, eating, and exercise patterns now that will sustain you when things get busy again. Just because you can stay up until 2 am doesn’t mean it’s a good routine to get into if you want to hit the ground running.
Stay positive - This phrase is so cliché that it pains me even to say, but it’s essential. Assume things are going to work out and that this is a temporary dry spell, not a life sentence. Do not depress yourself with hopeless thinking because if you allow yourself to go down that road, you won't muster the motivation needed to take the steps I laid out above, and those are the things that will help you turn this around ASAP. Allowing your negative thoughts to take over will lead to a sense of hopelessness and complacency, and that’s not going to help you maximize your opportunities. Act in ways that demonstrate a positive outlook and the feelings and opportunities will follow.
In summary, I'm saying what Dr. Albert Ellis, the second most influential psychotherapist in modern history (1), used to tell his clients all the time: "Push Your Ass." The suggestions listed above take effort and willpower to achieve. Sometimes you have to push back hard against fear and negativity to come out on top. It’s not easy to cope with a slow summer, but I promise, you will get through it one way or another. It’s up to you how you’ll make this time count. Consistent effort over time will pay off, or to put it more poetically, take it from one of my favorite bands:
"Still always remembering
When the going gets tough
That the labor of our love
Will reward us soon enough."
- The Growlers ("Going Gets Tough")
If you’re seeking more support around work frustrations, I welcome you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.