Even the most talented freelance writers I’ve met have found themselves facing a dry spell at some point in their careers. That’s a scary situation because it means you may not be bringing in enough money to make ends meet. If you don’t have much in the way of savings, that situation can spiral out of control fast.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with dry spells as a freelancer. You can use that time to build up your portfolio, for example, and bring on new clients you wouldn’t have found otherwise. However, if you play your cards right, you might never find yourself in that situation.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through four tips to help you deal with dry spells as a freelance writer. We’ll talk about how to make the best use of that extra time and bring in more business. Let’s get to it!
1. Reassess Your Finances
Less work means less money. If your finances are in order, a small lull in your workload can feel like a vacation. However, if you don’t have much in the way of savings, dry spells as a freelancer can be terrifying.
I’ve talked a lot about dealing with your finances as a freelancer in the past. Everyone’s expenses are different, and chances are you know how to handle yours well enough. However, if you’re serious about being a freelance writer over the long term, you need a financial safety net.
Ideally, everyone should have enough readily available to cover a couple of months in expenses. However, since our chosen line of work is a bit more unstable, I usually recommend you have anywhere between three and six months of savings you can use in case of emergency.
You’d be amazed at how many people – even those with stable careers – are living paycheck to paycheck. That means all it takes is one unforeseen major expense to knock most of us down to the ground.
If you’re currently in a lull work-wise, now is the perfect time to reassess how you tackle your finances. At the very least, you should be putting away 10% of your earnings (not counting what you’re saving for taxes). If you can, bump that number up to 20% and, in a few months, you’ll have a decent emergency fund that will, at some point, save you from crisis.
2. Keep Pitching Clients Constantly
A lot of freelance writers I’ve met have problems landing new clients. They complain when they make a few pitches and get no bites, and they get it in their heads that freelancing isn’t for them.
The truth is, even if you have a fantastic portfolio and have been writing for years, landing new work still takes considerable effort. In my experience, the vast majority of pitches go unanswered, and that means two things:
- Pitching is a numbers game.
- You need to work on tailoring your pitches for each client.
Having difficulty finding well-paid work is the primary reason why people give up on freelancing. You need to develop a hard skin and be able to shrug off rejection if you want to make it as a freelance writer. On top of that, you can’t expect to pitch every potential client the same way and expect to succeed.
If you’re currently in a dry spell as a freelancer, you should be sending multiple pitches every day to potential clients. There are plenty of websites and freelance job boards (such as Paid to Blog Jobs!) where work abounds, and it’s yours for the taking if you keep at it!
3. Get to Work on Your Own Blog
If you can make money writing for online publications, you might also be able to grow and monetize your own blog. Since you have some extra free time on your hands at the moment, now might be the perfect time to Start a Blog.
To be fair, even if you do everything right, it takes time for blogs to start earning any income, let alone a decent amount. However, once you grow your blog to a certain point, it can basically run itself, and all you have to do is write and publish new content.
A lot of people tell you that it’s possible to make thousands of dollars each month running your own blog. That’s a naked exaggeration, in the vast majority of cases, and most of those guys are often trying to sell you something.
However, if you choose a niche with potential and keep working on your blog, it’s wholly possible to earn a decent income from it. In the meantime, don’t forget to keep pitching new clients!
4. Update Your Portfolio
If I had a dollar for every time I mentioned the word portfolio, I’d be kicking it back in a lovely mountain chalet. However, my obsession with portfolios is well-warranted.
When you get in touch with a new client, they most likely won’t have any idea who you are or what you do. Your portfolio’s goal is to answer both those questions and convince those people they should hire you (the example below is from another Alex, by the way!).
Portfolios are relatively straightforward, in most cases. Yours should contain information about who you are and your work experience, as well as show off some of your best work. Those are the four essential elements every portfolio should include. However, some people go the extra mile and create astounding portfolios to raise interest:
If you’re having a dry spell as a freelancer, it stands to reason you need more clients. To land them, you need to be constantly applying to new jobs, and you need to have a portfolio that will set you apart from the rest of the applicants.
I’ve been on the other side of the fence when it comes to hiring freelancers. The bad news is there’s almost always fierce competition for most gigs. However, most applicants put minimal effort into their pitches and their portfolios. That means if you put a little effort into it, it’s pretty easy to set yourself apart from the herd.
Sooner or later, you’re going to have a month or two when there isn’t enough work coming in. It may be some of your recurring clients are cutting down on how much work they can send you or all your projects wrapped up simultaneously. Ideally, you’ll see it coming and get hard to work on pitching new clients before it happens, but that isn’t always possible.
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you should have a three-to-six-month emergency fund to help you get through dry spells. That way, you can look for more work to make up for the downturn without panicking about bills in the meantime.
Do you have any questions about how to deal with dry spells as a freelancer? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.