Freelancers – here’s 4 ways to deal with quiet periods at work

If you’re currently in the middle of a quiet period at work – you aren’t alone, despite how it may feel.

It can be extremely distressing when commissions are few and far between – financially, of course, but often our self worth takes a knock too, which can make it difficult getting back into the flow of things when business eventually picks up again. Not ideal.

So, what do you do when you experience quiet periods of work as a freelance or self-employed creative? Keep scrolling for 4 of my best tips.

 

Desk with laptop and bunch of flowers

 

4 ways to deal with quiet periods at work when you’re a freelance creative

1. Remember that it’s totally normal to experience quiet periods at work as a creative freelancer

As uncomfortable as quiet work periods can be, rest assured that they’re completely normal and that, despite what Instagram may have you think, most freelance and self-employed creatives experience them from time to time.

Almost all industries have busy times, when freelancers and self-employed folk will be more in-demand, and quieter times (so, for example, product-based businesses may require more hands around Christmastime, whilst journalists may see a dip in commissions in December as publishing houses sometimes close offices during the holidays), which will have a direct impact on you and your workload. 

One way to avoid succumbing to industry ebbing and flowing is to diversify your clientele. Working with clients from differing industries will increase your chances of having a steady stream of work throughout the year. As an example: the journalist who struggles to secure feature commissions in December could instead do some copywriting or social media content creation for brands going big at Christmas. You can find freelance creative opportunities on sites such as The Dots, and Upwork.

2. Allow yourself some downtime

Taking time away from work can be extremely complex when you’re a freelance or self-employed creative. It involves working ahead – usually into the night or on weekends – to avoid an income dip whilst you’re away, or hiring and entrusting another freelancer with your clients and work. Either way, it’s costs to take time off when you work for yourself.

That said, next time a quiet work period comes around, consider whether you might be able to embrace it and take some time to rest. Hustle culture will have you convinced you’re a failure if you aren’t booked solidly but that’s truly not the case. In fact, taking some time away from work every once in a while could be hugely beneficial for your wellbeing and creativity. Of course, whether or not embracing quiet periods at work will work for you will largely depend on your financial situation, which brings me to my next point… 

3. Consider how you can increase your income

Does your current rate account for quiet periods at work? Or, is now the time to think about raising your rate and exploring additional income streams?

My advice for freelance and self-employed creatives trying to figure out their rate is to consider how much you need – or want – to earn yearly, and add 30%. The 30% accounts for sick days, days you have to run around to appointments, days you have to finish work early to collect an unwell child from school, vacation days and, of course, quiet periods at work.

You can also consider utilising your skillset to diversify your income. For instance, an interior stylist may also offer trend forecasting consulting services to brands, and they may also run an online course for other aspiring stylists.

Finally, if you don’t have one already, try to build up an emergency fund for low-work periods. Most financial experts recommend having 3-6 months worth of wages saved up in case of a rainy day.

4. Be kind to yourself

Easier said than done sometimes, but try not to give yourself a hard time during quiet period at work. Remember that they aren’t a reflection of how skilled you are or are not at what you do, and that they won’t last forever.

If you struggle with low self esteem during these times, part particular attention to your self care – meditate, journal, exercise – spend extra time taking care of yourself. And, consider reaching out to peers and industry contacts – not only will they be able to empathise and offer support, they may also know of work opportunities suitable for you.