How to deal with downtime when you run a freelance business
When your customers suddenly get silent and there are no orders coming your way, you have two choices:
1) believe that someone put a curse on your business and keep moaning about how unlucky you are, or
2) accept this temporary downtime as a valuable gift and make the best use of it.
If, like me, you prefer option number 2, here are some ways to make sure this gift will keep giving.
1. Work on your business
Downtime is the perfect opportunity to work on your business, rather than in your business.
During hectic periods you probably do the latter most of the time. So now, with all the extra hours on your hands, you can have a closer look at how your business prospers. You can reassess your business plans and goals, organise your files and materials, analyse your marketing strategy or reach out to your customers to ask for testimonials.
There’s always something you can tweak in your business while waiting for the next wave of never-ending projects and assignments.
2. Learn new skills
When business gets slower, it’s the right moment to hone your skills. You surely have a to-learn list filled to the brim with topics such as SEO, negotiation skills or social media marketing that you’ve been putting away for later. During your downtime, this undefined “later” can finally become your “now”. All the online courses, conferences, networking events, books, workshops and specialist magazines can now play a main role in your schedule.
So, grab that buried list and start working on your professional development.
3. Update your content
Another way to use temporary stagnation to your advantage is to focus on your content.
Maybe you have a blog that hasn’t been updated for ages? Maybe you want to start a blog? Maybe your website needs a serious revamp? Now it’s the time to take your content to the next level. You can review your social media profiles and schedule some posts in advance or write several blog articles that you’ll publish later when you’re up to your ears in work.
It’s also a good time to add new products or new services to your website, create an online course, a series of webinars or other digital products that can help you generate some passive income in the long run.
4. Take your well-deserved time off
What do you miss the most when you’re swamped with work? Early morning workouts, being more present with your family, spending time with your friends, reading and meditating?
Your downtime is the perfect opportunity to do all these and many other non-work related activities. Before the downtime hit you, you’ve probably worked hard and kept racing against the clock. Now it’s the moment to wind down without feeling guilty.
You can’t run in the highest gear all year round, so the slower workflow can become your blessing. Whenever I experience downtime, I like to perceive it as Mother Nature’s intervention. Sometimes she simply forces her super-active children to slow down and realign with their inner selves. So why complain about that gift?
Over to you
How do you use your downtime? Do you prefer to pick up new skills, work on your business, or simply take time off?
P.S. If you struggle with using your time wisely, I share some tips in my free e-book “How to make the best use of your time”.
And if you’re looking for advice on how to better manage your time and freelance business when you juggle work with motherhood, have a look at my book “You’ve got this: How to continue your freelance career when you become a mother”.