Ever since the current recession hit, the economy has been doing strange things. While most freelancers I know are at or above their overall income goals, I’ve talked to numerous people who have gone longer than usual with little or no work. In my own case, my usual holiday slowdown (normally lasting from about Christmas Eve to January 2 or 3) morphed into almost no work from mid-December to mid-January. Another translator I talked to had absolutely no work for the month of July; yet another said that she had been going about one week a month with no inquiries at all.
For those of us who are usually as busy or busier than we want to be, a short-term slowdown can be more of a blessing than a curse. However, there’s a point where the feast or famine phenomenon gets problematic, especially when it motivates us to accept sub-standard projects or low rates out of a fear that no one will ever hire us again. Or, we start contacting our current clients out of desperation, trying to find a way to sugar-coat “Do you have any work for me?” so that it doesn’t sound so pleading.
The Wealthy Freelancer just ran an excellent post on this very topic, in which the author (Ed Gandia) stressed the importance of marketing consistently. Ed advises that every freelancer block out 10% of her or his time and spend it on marketing in order to even the work flow out. He makes the excellent point that “…even when you’re slammed, getting leads you can’t pursue is good for your self-confidence, which helps you keep your fees where they should be (and even raise them in some cases).”
Lately I’ve been trying to spend 30-45 minutes a day on marketing; I find it’s a task I can do even when I’m physically or mentally tired, so a small chunk of time in the evening works well. I have a spreadsheet where I jot down marketing ideas as they pop into my head, i.e. “xyz is marketing to Americans but website is only in French” or “Look for more clients in same niche as xyz current client,” then I take action on them during my marketing time.
Has anyone else tried methods to even out the feast or famine cycle?